Enamored by avante’ garde watches I nominate Ulysse Nardin to be given a metal of courage, honor and astonishing Watchmaking prowess for delivering the goods (as Rob Halford of Judas Priest would say).

Freak is by far andlarge a watch I could work on on a daily basis at a bench in there factory in Switzerland and smile each day I reported for duty as Ulysse Nardin Watchmaker.

Some specifications to get us going here:

7 day Carrousel Tourbillon, 28,800 V/H. Patented Dual Ulysse Escapement in Silicium. Time settingby turning bezel with lock device. Winding by turning the case back. Blue bridge, superluminova at H/M tips.

Ref. Nr.

44.5 mm

18 ct white gold

Approx. 7 days

Manual wind

Sapphire crystal


Buckle type
Folding clasp

From UN:

Early in 2001, Ulysse Nardin unveiled a watch which was codenamed “Freak”. Until now, this watch has represented the pinnacle of both technological and artistic watchmaking.

Produced in a very limited quantity, the original FREAK remains one of the most sought after timepieces.

No watch company has ever produced a timepiece like the FREAK – one of the most technically innovative watches conceived, designed and produced in the past 100 years.

The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmakings most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox – it had essentially no true case ! The crystal and the bezel were actually part of the movement; the Freak had no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time !

It contained fewer parts than the simplest watch today, and remained a Carrousel Tourbillon by necessity. No watch had ever been designed this way.

The development of the FREAK pioneered the use of silicium in the context of necessity – not for decoration or to be different. While developing this novel escapement the Ulysse Nardin engineers explored the various opportunities to be had with the implementation of nanotechnology. Indeed, the accuracy and lightness (accompanied with the ease in designing complicated movement parts) confirmed the unique abilities of silicium for the production of our escapement wheels.

freakescape.jpgWhat intrigue’sme as a Watchmaker of complicated timepieces myself is the technical avenues they achieved regarding the escapement. It seems they are on a wonderful path to invent new ground, to look ahead into the future of Watchmaking and to step out of the stereotypical Swiss ways of doing luxury watches. I’m on board with UN in so many ways. I’m not quite sure what Monday morning meetings are like there but I sure love the way they swiftly execute mechanical excellence in such short period’s of time. Simply astonishing!
As you can see the “dual direct escapement” is quite unique in design. The escapement is where we lose so much in Watchmaking, as it is the one place inside your mechanical micro mechanical machine of precision that takes one way motion of driven wheels and shifts this motion into a “back and forth” direction. The “locking” and “unlocking” expels energy due to mass consumption leaving us with a weak point.

How it works for Watchmakers:

  1. The balance is about to move the stopper and to unlock the 1st wheel.
  2. When the balance passes its neutral position, the 1st wheel is freed and accelerates in order to catch up with the balance impulse tooth.
  3. The 1st wheel gives an impulse onto the Balance impulse tooth.
  4. The balance rides along its free arc, the 2nd wheel sits against the stopper.
  5. The balance returns to move the stopper and unlock the 2nd wheel.
  6. The balance passes its neutral position, the 2nd wheel is freed and accelerates in order to catch up with the balance impulse tooth.
  7. The 2nd wheel gives an impulse onto the Balance impulse tooth.
  8. The balance rides along its free arc, the 1st wheel sits against the stopper.

Ulysse Nardin not only changed the entire outlook on this ancient inventive principle, but even searched out new ways to make the wheels (silicone). Once again, who ever is in charge over at UN please keep up the groundbreaking technological prowess! We love you!

I think they even have a Master Watchmaker in there factory that is a bit of heavy metal guy. I’ve seen a tour of there factory online somewhere and there is a picture of one of there Watchmakers working on a freak with longer hair than me. If you’re out there email me metal Freak UN Watchmaker!

Please have a close look at a Freak or Ulysse Nardin as a branditself. They have many wonderful pieces beyond the Freak as well andI highly recommend their manufacturing process and level of Watchmaking. I would love to take a tour next time I’m over in Le Locle, Switzerland of the Freak custom shop.