Since 2001, Ulysse Nardin has filed more than 20 patents for the Freak, the watch with the iconic, crownless silhouette. Today, a newly independent Ulysse Nardin recaptures its unique story with the Freak ONE. Even now, 22 years on from its original release, the Freak is still a challenging concept. It’s also one of the most advanced examples of contemporary watchmaking. The original was a milestone watch brimming with cutting-edge tech and avant-garde design and changed perceptions of what a mechanical watch should look like—and how it should work. This was the rebel mindset. This year and after a series of memorable executions that have built the Freak’s unique profile, Ulysse Nardin is introducing the Freak ONE, a watch that returns the watchmaker’s icon to its roots.
The Freak ONE is a new watch inspired by the first Freak featuring its three signature characteristics: no dial, no hands and no crown. It’s regulated by a silicon hairspring introduced in 2008 and an escapement treated with DIAMonSIL, a trailblazing synthetic diamond and silicon plasma surfacing treatment first applied to the Freak in 2007 that makes the movement abrasion and shock-resistant.
The Freak ONE also synthesises the visual dynamics of previous generations of the Freak, from the notched bezel of the original 2001 Freak, to the open gear train of the Freak Cruiser of 2013, to the legibility codes of the 2018 Freak Vision. The black DLC-coated titanium and rose gold detailing echoes recent Freak iterations, such as last year’s Freak S.
The Freak ONE becomes Ulysse Nardin’s flagship watch and the company’s centre of gravity as it defines its new independence. The Freak has always been ahead of its time, appealing to explorer collectors with a taste for the avant-garde. More than two decades on, the Freak ONE distils its story.
The Freak’s unconventional time-setting system is operated via the bezel. It is activated when the locker at 6 o’clock is lifted, releasing the setting system. Turning the bezel rotates the entire movement, which doubles as the watch’s hands. Pushing the locker backdown fixes the bezel in place so the time-setting system cannot be disturbed.
The black sunray-engraved barrel cover sits underneath the movement and doubles as the rotating hour disc. It makes a full rotation once every 12 hours, indicating the hour via a V-shaped pointer that is filled with Super-LumiNova to aid low-light legibility. The Freak’s distinctive minute bridge hovers under the sapphire crystal and carries the entire gear train, an oversized silicon oscillator and an orbital 60-minute flying carrousel tourbillon. The escapement is treated with Ulysse Nardin’s patented DIAMonSIL coating.
The Freak ONE’s automatic movement has a 72-hour power reserve. Its patented Grinder winding system has been designed to capture energy with even the smallest of wrist movements. Its rotor is connected to a frame carrying four blades, which gives the system twice the angular stroke, a bit like a bicycle fitted with four pedals instead of two. This makes it twice as efficient as typical winding systems.
Integrated rubber strap The Freak ONE also picks up on Ulysse Nardin’s drive towards a more sustainable future. Its rubber strap is made of 30 per cent recycled production waste by Ulysse Nardin’s Swiss partner BIWI. This new flexible and water-resistant strap further enhances the Freak ONE’s ergonomics and wearability.