Home Watches The Ulysse Nardin Freak is Having a Killer Second

The Ulysse Nardin Freak is Having a Killer Second

The Ulysse Nardin Freak is Having a Killer Second
Ulysse Nardin

“I simply love the Freak One. It’s simply an incredible watch. It’s a standing watch. It’s a killer watch,” enthuses George

Bamford, of Bamford Watch Division, and a Grand Prix of Horlogerie de Geneve jury member. “I imply, simply calling it the Freak is spectacular sufficient as a result of that should have been an enormous danger when the gathering was first launched over 20 years in the past. However then you’ve got all that design content material, these large concepts. It’s freaking nuts. It’s freaking mad.”

Ulysse Nardin

In 2023, the Grand Prix of Horlogerie de Geneve named Ulysee Nardin’s Freak One the winner of its ‘iconic’ class, acknowledging this newest iteration of the road debuted in 2001 – below the management of Rolf Schnyder and the watchmaking radicalism of Carole Forestier and Ludwig Oechslin – as totemic of one thing larger than itself: a shift in the way in which watches had been conceived and, in flip, perceived.

Right here was a watch with no crown – the show is adjusted utilizing the bezel, the watch wound utilizing the casebook. Extra spectacular nonetheless, right here was a watch with out a dial or arms, utilising the motion itself to show the time and, in flip, proposing that the motion may discover visible expression as a type of kinetic artwork. Right here was one which additionally took a brand new method to supplies, being the primary watch with a silicium escapement. Small marvel then that the Freak line has garnered some 20 patents for Ulysee Nardin.

Ulysse Nardin

“What made the Freak attainable was that Rolf Schynder, when he acquired the corporate in 1983, was decided to make substantial investments within the manufacture. Extra importantly, he aimed to determine a manufacture with its personal imaginative and prescient,” explains Clemence Le Rolland, Ulysee Nardin’s model director for South East Asia and Oceania. Certainly the impact of that imaginative and prescient was, nonetheless, higher than maybe he imagined.

“[The Freak] deserves its present popularity for initiating the period of ‘fashionable’ watchmaking,” argues Le Rolland. “This period shifted the main target away from a classical, albeit high-end, method to watchmaking to 1 that prioritized creating one thing totally completely different and progressive. It impressed different watchmaking manufacturers and introduced a twist to haute horlogerie.”

Bamford agrees. He means that with out the Freak – a watch given extra credibility in coming from an organization of historic pedigree, courting again to 1846 – probably new manufacturers the likes
of Richard Mille or Urwerk, each additionally recognized for unconventional approaches to observe design,
would have had a more durable time establishing a market following their launch quickly after. Perhaps the
timeline of recent watchmaking ought to be conceived as being BF and AF: Earlier than the Freak and After
the Freak.

Ulysse Nardin

“We’re extra used to seeing bizarre proposals in watchmaking extra typically now. Even in that context the Freak stays mesmerising: you take a look at it and instantly ask your self ‘so how does this work?’. Figuring that out for your self is a part of what makes the design intriguing,” he suggests. “However what I believe is particularly telling is that Ulysee Nardin was taking that method so way back. To essentially respect the Freak you need to take a look at [watchmaking] historical past and respect what its launch did for the watch world at massive. It’s akin to Swatch or G-Shock – it’s straightforward to miss how radical they had been once they had been launched”.

Certainly, these and different pioneering watches could be too readily appreciated now as primarily being aesthetic leaps ahead. And, as notes Maximillian Busser, Grand Prix of Horlogerie de Geneve jury member and founding father of MB&F – a model that additionally benefited from the trail paved by the Freak – the varied iterations of the Freak have managed to be unconventional whereas additionally being light-weight, compact and comparatively streamlined. In contrast to so many different unique watches, they’ve additionally managed to stay comfortably wearable even on a small wrist – one thing Busser cites as being a serious trial within the creation of his personal timepieces. And but, he stresses, all that’s to overlook the true import of those groundbreakers.

Ulysse Nardin

“Positive, earlier than [the likes of the Freak, RM001, the UR103 or the Harry Winston Opus 1] the look of high-end watchmaking was extremely basic and conservative. However that’s not why for me the Freak
needs to be thought of one of many nice up to date watchmaking benchmarks of the early 2000s,” says Busser. “Reasonably it’s as a result of it additionally required the event of an extremely complicated expertise to make it come to life. These sorts of watches should not solely about design. They’re not nearly a properly designed packaging of an current motion. They signify overcoming monumental technical challenges. The Freak’s lack of a crown is a working example. For the reason that motion activates itself a standard crown-stem wouldn’t have labored. And the answer simply makes the watch that rather more ground-breaking.”

From the Freak’s Twin Direct escapement – at a time when a watchmakers creating their very own escapement was largely unprecedented, George Daniels apart – to the thought of orientating the blades of the steadiness wheel to take advantage of air resistance for a extra fixed amplitude; from the massively improved vitality transmission of the Grinder computerized winding system to, extra not too long ago, the escapement being handled with a silicium and artificial diamond plasma end for abrasion and shock resistance… The Freak sequence has stored the improvements coming, with out the unique dropping its relevance.

Ulysse Nardin

“Remarkably, though a mess of latest concepts have emerged since then, the Freak continues to face out as a extremely artistic and distinctive watch,” argues Le Rolland. Certainly, in a approach the Freak has come to interchange the marine chronographs, with which Ulysee Nardin has lengthy been carefully related, as probably the most direct expression of what the model stands for in the present day. Merely put, “it [expresses] Ulysse Nardin’s unconventional, avant-gardist mindset in its method to watchmaking.”

This text first appeared on WOW’s Legacy 2024 situation.

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