Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE: No Dial, No Hands, No Crown
More than two decades after Ulysse Nardin debuted the original Freak, the new Freak ONE honors the delightfully unconventional watch that is the Freak.
Ulysse Nardin, led at the time by maverick owner Rolf Schnyder and brilliant watchmaker Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, introduced the Freak in 2001. This unconventional timepiece had no dial, hands, or crown and was considered out of this world in the conservative watch industry. To set the time, a system in the bezel was used, and to wind it, a device in the case back was employed. The rotating one-hour carrousel tourbillon replaced hands to display the time.
Ulysse Nardin viewed the Freak as a laboratory for watchmaking, and Dr. Oechslin used it to showcase his Dual Direct Escapement invention, which was the first to feature a silicon escapement in a Swiss watch. Although expensive and radical at the time, the use of silicon has become mainstream in contemporary watches. The Freak, with its crownless silhouette, has been the subject of more than 20 patents since its debut, and it remains a unique and unconventional timepiece.
No Dial, No Hands, and No Crown
Unlike typical mechanical watches that have a dial to cover their workings, the Freak does not have one. Instead, its movement functions as the minute hand, while a pointer on a rotating disc beneath the movement serves as the hour hand. The design is challenging but still easy to read. In contrast to traditional watches that have hands, the Freak has a one-hour orbital carrousel tourbillon that functions as the minute hand, and the hour hand is replaced by a pointer on a rotating disc. Typically, winding and adjusting a mechanical watch requires a crown, but the Freak is different. It has an integrated time-setting system in the bezel and can be wound using a mechanism located in the case back, eliminating the need for a crown.
The Ulysse Nardin Freak ONE
After more than two decades since the first Freak was introduced, Ulysse Nardin, now an independent company, is retelling the unique story of the Freak with the launch of the Freak ONE.
The Freak remains a challenging concept and is one of the most advanced examples of contemporary watchmaking. The original Freak was a milestone in watchmaking, featuring cutting-edge technology and avant-garde design that changed perceptions of mechanical watches.
Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Ulysse Nardin’s Chief Product Officer, says, “You cannot overstate the impact of the Freak on Swiss watchmaking,’ says Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Ulysse Nardin’s Chief Product Officer. ‘The application of silicon in the escapement was a revolution. And its design was so disruptive: no dial, hands, or crown. It was the industry’s first hyper watch. To aficionados, in watchmaking, there is only before the Freak – and after.’
The new Freak ONE is inspired by the first Freak and features its signature characteristics: no dial, no hands, and no crown. It is regulated by a silicon hairspring and an escapement treated with DIAMonSIL, which makes it abrasion and shock-resistant. The design of the Freak ONE synthesizes the visual elements of previous generations of the Freak, such as the notched bezel of the original Freak, the open gear train of the Freak Cruiser, and the legibility codes of the Freak Vision. The watch’s black DLC-coated titanium and rose gold detailing echoes the design of recent Freak iterations.
The Freak ONE is now the flagship watch of Ulysse Nardin, defining the company’s new independence. The Freak has always been ahead of its time, appealing to collectors with a taste for avant-garde designs. The Freak ONE distills the story of the Freak more than two decades later.
Price & Availability
The Ulysse Nardin Freak One is available at Ulysse Nardin retailers worldwide.
Price: USD 68,600
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