Watches and Wonders 2022: A review on the new Ulysse Nardin Freak S.

Apr 25, 2022,06:52 AM
 

Aaah, the Freak... Here we are facing an Horological UFO which was born in 2001, a real stroke of genius from Ulysse Nardin, a watch which was and still is unique in its kind.

The original Freak on its way to meet the " S " Sister: 



Frankly speaking, I consider all the versions from 2001 to the latest one, the Freak S, as real Freaks, with the exception of one, issued in 2019, the Freak X. 


Let's first remember what a Freak is: It is a watch without hands, without a dial nor a crown and with a Carousel movement, which makes a revolution all around the dial in 60 minutes. 

Hence, the Freak X disqualifies as a real Freak, as it has a... Crown. It is a great watch, a good idea, but not a Freak.

The Freak S is a real Freak, with some interesting innovations and a new case. 



The case is new. Ulysse Nardin told me that it was inspired from the Freak first generation, I have to disagree, here. The first Freak has more curved lugs, the new one has more angular lugs. I don't even see any inspiration here, which doesn't mean it is less appealing. It is just different, and I must say that I like this new case a lot. Moreover, it enhances the technicality of the watch
It also is bigger, with a diameter of 45 mm, and blends ceramic, titanium and rose gold. 
And at the difference with the Freak One, the S is water resistant to 30 meters, while the " One " was not water resistant at all!




The movement is automatic, with a grinder system which is said to be twice as efficient as classic automatic systems, the oscillating weight being connected to a frame carrying four blades. Once again, or here again, it is not a simple automatic movement, but an original one, as a true Freak movement should be! And it offers a good power reserve of 72 hours, which can be wound through the ring, on the back, shown here


BUT the true " raison d'être " of the Freak S is on the front side. Here you can see the true originality of the Freak S, its unique character. 


You still have the baguette movement, but it is way different from the Freak One. 
Indeed, the " minute hand " of the Freak S is shaped like a Space Shuttle, with its two giant balance wheels and the differential as the reactors and the tail, and the arrow minute hand as the nose of the interstellar " engine ", while the hours are displayed by another arrow, you can see on the official pictures at 10 o' clock and on my pictures, at 3 o' clock.

Spectacular. Add the space feeling provided by the black aventurine dial / disc which is dedicated to the hour hand, and you will understand why this new Freak reaches, or better said, goes over the sky to throw us into the heart of the Universe. 


The originality is not only about aesthetics, but most of all, technique and mechanics.

How does it work? You have not one but two oversized balance wheels in silicon linked to a differential which " spread " the different speeds of the two oscillators, which is a technique borrowed to the Automotive universe. 

The two balance wheels: 




The differential: 


The purpose of such an original solution? The stability of the amplitude.

To read the time, you have the arrow of the minute 

In the Freak S, the silicon components of the escapement are coated with diamond... Something which has already been seen in the eponymous Freak... DiamonSil! 

My personal feelings on the Freak S, now: 


I have been a lover of the Freak from the first hour. An unconditional lover with biased and sometimes excessive feelings on the Freak. In fact I love almost all of them, with the exception of the Freak X which is, per se, a great watch, but not a Freak for the reasons I mentioned. 

No need to tell you how impatient I was to see the Freak S in the flesh. And in real, I was not disappointed. The reason for my initial doubts? The automatic movement, but once I saw it and understood that it was a special one, it was good enough for me. 


The dial side is really awesome. It brings you in a totally different dimension, crazy enough to deserve being a Freak, a TRUE one. I will say the same for the technical innovations, which are very Ulysse Nardin. 


Now I have three reserves: 

1/ The fact that it is a limited edition: 75 pieces, only.

2/ A probable consequence of the first point, the price: At over 120, 000 Euros, the retail price is hard to digest. Unlimited, the price may have been lower. 

3/ It is my personal taste, but I would have preferred a white metal ( white gold, platinum, or even better, tantalum... ). With a blue or black aventurine dial, it would have been even more irresistible. 


Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,

Best.

Nicolas








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Comments: view entire thread

 

absolutely stunning

 
 By: keks : April 25th, 2022-07:26
would love to see in person to get better grasp of how it wear in terms of size. Also not a huge fan of the strap, would have preferred a rubber or kevlar alternative as it feels more appropriate for a futuristic piece like tihs... the aventurine dial loo... 

Looking forward to it. :-)

 
 By: GregersLars : April 25th, 2022-15:32

Excellent review Nicolas, very informative and as always, a pleasure to read!

 
 By: eklektik : April 25th, 2022-09:12
Next time we meet, I would love to see your Freak, it seems fascinating! Best, E.

What a stunning movement!

 
 By: xiu laba : April 25th, 2022-09:39
UN has been developing innovative silicium movements for the Freaks and I have always read with eagerness the new innovations they have for each iteration. Am somewhat underwhelmed by this newest release as the double balance wheel seems like an exercise ... 

Awesome review

 
 By: MiguelFlash : April 25th, 2022-10:25
Aesthetically I love the the whole space thing.

What I think, too.

 
 By: amanico : April 25th, 2022-11:06

I have to take exception....

 
 By: guycord : April 25th, 2022-10:58
I would but then I am counter bias...on the winding mechanism/Freak X. By your own definitions, all Freaks without a pillar through the front crystal should equally be disqualified. Me thinks you have a chip on the shoulder with the X and will damn a very... 

 
 By: guycord : April 25th, 2022-11:15
Yes, I have to disagree. Looking just now....UN have 3 models of Freak in its Freak model section. An S variant, 3 Vision variants and the X++ variants. By UNs standard, the Freak X is indeed a Freak and no matter what pronouns you or I wish to grant the ... 

What an awesome review!….

 
 By: myles721 : April 25th, 2022-15:15
To read a review as detailed as this from beginning to end knowing full well I will probably never own a freak or even handle one tells me how much I love watches😁😉 I am a great fan of the Freak plus I like UN’s ambassador shark. The only thing perhaps I ... 

A stunning and freakishly beautiful FREAK of a watch!

 
 By: patrick_y : April 25th, 2022-15:51
I agree on the limitations of the piece. The fact that it's so limited and the price is so high, is a bother. Furthermore, I imagine they will create similar versions with other tweaks (different case materials or colors) in future limited editions or may... 

I doubt I will ever see one. How is this...

 
 By: Ronald Held : April 25th, 2022-16:14
Watch regulated?

No idea, my friend.

 
 By: amanico : April 25th, 2022-16:45

Thanks for finding this out. (nt)

 
 By: Ronald Held : April 26th, 2022-19:36
NT

Wow this must be a marvel to see in action…

 
 By: takman : April 25th, 2022-16:37
Any more details of how the automatic winding works?

 
 By: guycord : April 26th, 2022-10:00
www.youtube.com

Thank you! What an intriguing mechanism

 
 By: takman : April 27th, 2022-04:11
A little noisy though 😜

Supremely impressive,

 
 By: InHavenPro : April 25th, 2022-17:04
as you, I've always loved them with great intensity! I pretty much agree on every point you care to emphasize in your review, including the 'disadvantages' related to number of units, price and material choice.... Regardless, another hugely worthwhile ent... 

RM

 
 By: InHavenPro : April 25th, 2022-17:28
LoL X). I'd love to see this in person of course, thanks again, Filip

When you come. ;)

 
 By: amanico : April 25th, 2022-17:29

Fantastic review

 
 By: COUNT DE MONET : April 25th, 2022-17:04
I would be surprised if this one will not be done in platinum or any other further metal/material. Sounds like good news ... but it will be fewer in numbers and ... more expensive 😉. However, in RG it looks pretty timeless!

I can fully understand your desire to see this in an alternative skin.

 
 By: gadalex : April 25th, 2022-18:18
And in tantalum with a platinum bezel perhaps, this timepiece would be a fitting tribute to the granddaddy of twenty first century watchmaking.

... like in a book, my friend 😎

 
 By: COUNT DE MONET : April 25th, 2022-19:16

Hehehe... ;)

 
 By: amanico : April 25th, 2022-19:47

nice wrap up

 
 By: penfriend : April 25th, 2022-17:39
thank you on those details. I admired the Freak exhibition at w&w - although it is not my personal taste, it is a very cool design

Absolutely stunning!

 
 By: KCLQMULKU : April 25th, 2022-20:45
Reminds me of an opulent spacecraft! The finely crafted and unique detail within every aspect of the mechanism. Stunning!!!

😆

 
 By: KCLQMULKU : April 25th, 2022-21:00

;)

 
 By: amanico : April 25th, 2022-21:04

Fantastic post

 
 By: Cookies : April 26th, 2022-14:21
Full of great content and impressive pictures. Wow!!!’

Visually and technically stunning

 
 By: MichaelC : April 30th, 2022-15:06
But quite overdone for my tastes. Thanks for the report my Friend.

Pleasure, my friend.

 
 By: amanico : April 30th, 2022-19:46