The most wearable and affordable freak.
When Ulysse Nardin fake launched two extreme forms of Freak earlier this year, it ’s worth considering that when the original Freak was launched in 2001, it seemed to be a battle cry after the Quartz crisis, maybe even detour . But in the 18 years since then, Freak has remained at the forefront of watchmaking with its countless iterations and innovations. Despite being the simplest Freak to date, the new Freak X is arguably as advanced as its expensive cousin, providing a lot of mechanical properties with relatively little money.
Last year was to some extent an extreme reduction made by Ulysse Nardin in 2019. It introduced Freak Vision (the most technologically advanced Freak so far) and Freak Out (entry-level model, the price is only half of the latter).
This year, the brand once again launched two different versions of watches. The first is Freak neXt, which doubles the definition function of Freak using a 12Hz high-frequency “floating” oscillator in silicon. Moreover, even more surprising is that Freak X, a creation that has been simplified by technology and standardized in style, costs only half of the cost of previous entry-level models.
Importantly, although the affordable price of Freak X is its most obvious attraction, the actual changes made to the watch are obvious, even ingenious. Watches are cheaper, but they do n’t feel cheaper.
Freak X artfully clarifies and captures the essence of Freak, retaining the French bread-shaped movement, which can not only serve as a turntable minute hand, but also maintain twice the silicon escapement. But the mechanical device has been simplified and greatly simplified, so although it has a typical Freak appearance, it feels like another watch.
The original bulky watch has been transformed into a more wear-resistant case with a diameter of 43mm and shorter lugs. Although the display time is uncertain, the face is also clearly discernible. Even more shocking, Freak X gave up the traditional time setting bezel and grooved bottom cover, and the mainspring was wound.
Although both are characteristic of primitive freaks, it can be said that they are not the key achievements of the beginning, this is due to the original movement structure of the gear train located above the mainspring. With the original Freak setting, the winding process is very awkward, and the bezel needs a locking mechanism to prevent accidental changes in time.
Instead, the traditional crown is used to set the time and wind the clockwork.
The core of Freak X is also obviously less complicated. The original “geek” concept designed by Carole Forestier-Kasapi imagined a gear system surrounded by a huge mainspring, but after Ludwig Oechslin, head of Ulysse Nardin development, commercialized the concept, it evolved Running train above the mainspring. The clockwork is so large that it almost fills the entire case.
With Freak X, things have become more routine. Essentially, the inside is a traditional automatic movement, which integrates the Freak mechanism into the bottom plate.
Therefore, many gear trains are hidden under the dial, while the roulette contains only the balance wheel and the escapement. Despite the simplification, the rotary dial is still a minute hand, so the balance wheel rotates around the dial every hour, which is not an easy task in itself.
In fact, orbital escapements are relatively rare in the watchmaking industry and are often used in conjunction with tourbillons to make extremely expensive luxury watches replica. The famous examples are the Earl Tourbillon Relatif and Cartier Astrotourbillon, which are undoubtedly conceived by Ms. Forestier-Kasapi.
Newly developed cal. The UN-230 in Freak X is based on UN-118. The brand’s main automatic internal movement powers a large part of the Ulysse Nardin series. But the time display of the carousel is modeled after the display on the UN-250 movement in Freak Vision.
However, although UN-118 has a DIAMonSIL escapement system, and Freak Vision has a constant force anchoring escapement system, Freak X relies on a traditional escapement system, but it is naturally a silicon escapement system.
At the same time, the Freak X movement has an important technical function, which debuted in Freak Vision-a lightweight balance wheel made of silicon, with an automatically adjustable micro blade, using air resistance to stabilize its amplitude and improve accuracy, and Nickel adjustment weight. This means that Freak X may be equipped with the highest technology balance components in its price segment.
The UN-230 of Freak X has a complete rotor, as can be seen through the bottom cover, as well as the “magic lever” bidirectional winding mechanism, which is favored for its solidity, simplicity and thinness.
It has a 72-hour power reserve, which is almost the industry standard for the latest movement, but 7 days shorter than the original Freak (whose spring is almost as large as the entire Freak X case).
The compact movement means the actual size of the case, which is more rounded compared to the early Freaks. The most important thing is that the case has short and thin tapered lugs, which helps to fit the wrist well.
There are three different cases of Freak X: titanium, black titanium plating or 18k rose gold, and carbon fiber composite Carbonium. This material is lightweight and strong, as common as carbon composite materials, but it is sustainable because it is obtained from the residue left in the production process of the aircraft fuselage.
The complexity of the orbital escapement (plus the frequent addition of tourbillons) often leads to issues of commercial viability, which is the result of correspondingly higher prices. In this regard, Freak X managed to counter the trend.
Although the table is indeed a simplified version of the original table, it is a compelling proposition. It cuts into every corner in a reasonable way, while retaining the essence of the original Freak (still a relatively underrated ladies replica watches), making this concept available to a wider and possibly young audience.
At the same time, Freak X also managed to provide meaningful improvements, such as wearable cases, traditional and easy-to-use crowns, and high-tech silicon balances. The obvious difference between the hour and minute hands makes reading time easy.