Ulysse Nardin Freak: The Silicon Revolution
The Ulysse Nardin Freak was the world's first luxury watch to feature silicon components. It revolutionized the watch industry with its innovative caliber technology and unique, handless display. The movement itself indicates the current time.
Innovative Watch Technology
While a watch with silicon components and no hands, dial, or crown may not sound very revolutionary today, when Ulysse Nardin launched the Freak in 2001, they shook the watch industry to its core. Instead of conventional hands, the Freak's upper rotating baguette movement and additional lower rotating bridge indicate the minutes and hours, respectively. This is possible thanks to the two bridges revolving around a shared central arbor. Ulysse Nardin also crafts many of the movement's components, including the balance spring, from silicon, a metalloid now popular in watchmaking due to its hardness, lightness, and anti-magnetic qualities. However, back in 2001, this material was truly groundbreaking in the watch industry.
Until 2018, the Freak collection contained models in rose gold, white gold, platinum, or titanium. This includes timepieces like the platinum Freak Out and the white gold Freak Diavolo. One particularly special edition is the Freak Diamond Heart with a diamond-encrusted platinum case. What's more, it boasts a manual tourbillon caliber with a 7-day power reserve – technology Ulysse Nardin refers to as the first "7-day tourbillon carousel" in watchmaking history. You can set the time using the rotatable bezel or case back.
The brand launched three models under the name "Freak Vision" in 2018. These timepieces come in titanium or rose gold. They were also the first watches to use the company's newly developed tourbillon caliber with a "grinder" winding mechanism. The Freak X series followed in 2019, and contains watches with a crown at 3 o'clock. Today, it is home to the collection's entry-level models in titanium and rose gold.
Reasons to Buy an Ulysse Nardin Freak
- Time displayed using the movement and a bridge
- The first watch to feature silicon components
- Top Model: Ulysse Nardin Freak Diavolo with a tourbillon
- Freak X: The collection's entry-level model
Prices at a Glance: Ulysse Nardin Freak
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Material, size|
|Diamond Heart, 029-80||134,000 USD||Platinum, 44.5 mm|
|Diavolo, 2080-115||120,000 USD||White gold, 44.5 mm|
|Vision, 2505-250||84,000 USD||Titanium, 45 mm|
|Phantom, 2086-115||78,500 USD||Rose gold, 45 mm|
|Blue Phantom, 020-81||71,500 USD||White gold, 44.5 mm|
|FreakLab, 2103-138/CF-ARTEMIS||69,000 USD||Titanium, 45 mm|
|Blue Cruiser, 2050-131/03||59,000 USD||White gold, 45 mm|
|Cruiser, 2056-131||52,500 USD||Rose gold, 45 mm|
|Freak Out, 2053-132/03.1||40,500 USD||Titanium, 45 mm|
|Freak X, 2305-270/02||25,500 USD||Rose gold, 43 mm|
|Freak X, 2303-270/03||18,500 USD||Titanium, 43 mm|
How much does an Ulysse Nardin Freak cost?
The most affordable entry point to the world of the Ulysse Nardin Freak is the Freak X series. Prices for these models begin just under 19,000 USD. For that price, you can purchase a mint-condition ref. 2303-270/03. A never-worn Freak Out (ref. 2053-132/03.19) will set you back roughly 40,500 USD, while the Blue Phantom requires an investment of about 69,500 USD. A new Freak Vision in rose gold costs about 82,000 USD. Finally, more complicated models like the Freak Diavolo and Diamond Heart demand well over 100,000 USD.
Freak X: The Entry-Level Model
Ulysse Nardin launched the Freak X, the collection's new entry-level line, in 2019. With the exception of one rose gold model, each Freak X features a titanium case. Every watch measures 43 mm in diameter and contains the automatic in-house caliber UN-230 with a 72-hour power reserve. Unlike the rest of the collection, Freak X timepieces have a crown for setting the time at 3 o'clock. Sapphire crystal protects the displays, and the case is water-resistant to 50 m (5 bar, 164 ft). In terms of price, you can save about 25% off the manufacturer's suggested retail price by purchasing your watch on Chrono24.
The ref. 2303-270/03 features a blue hour disc, blue bezel, and blue alligator leather strap. This edition costs approximately 18,500 USD in mint condition. If you're looking for a black Freak X in titanium, you should consider the 2303-270.1/BLACK. Its case, hour disc, and leather strap are all black. You can call this model your own for around 17,500 USD.
The rose gold Freak X bears the reference number 2305-270/02. The movement, hour disc, and bezel combine black and rose gold elements. Paired with a black leather strap, this timepiece is a real eye-catcher. Be sure to have about 25,500 USD on hand to purchase this version of the Freak X.
About the Freak Vision
Introduced in 2018, the Freak Vision line contains three models – two in titanium and one in rose gold. Each is 45 mm in diameter and uses the tourbillon caliber UN-250 with a 50-hour power reserve. The movement boasts the manufacturer's patented "grinder" winding mechanism with a central rotor linked to a four-armed frame. This technology debuted in 2017 and is much more efficient and precise than other systems. You can set the Freak Vision's time using the bezel, while a rotatable ring on the case back enables you to wind the movement manually as needed.
The ref. 2505-250 is one of two titanium models. It features a blue bezel, hour disc, and leather strap. While Ulysse Nardin lists this timepiece for 100,200 USD, you can find it for sale on Chrono24 for roughly 83,500 USD.
As its reference number suggests, black is the dominant color of the ref. 2503-250/BLACK. Bar silver-colored accents on its movement, this timepiece is solid black. You can purchase a never-worn edition on Chrono24 for as little as 54,000 USD, which is quite a steal compared to its official list price of 68,600 USD.
If you have your sights set on a rose gold Freak Vision, you should be on the lookout for the ref. 2502-250LE. In addition to its case, its rose gold movement contrasts beautifully with the timepiece's black hour disc, bezel, and strap. Limited to a run of 99 pieces, this model has a recommended retail price of 100,200 USD. On Chrono24, the same watch demands about 82,000 USD.
About Other Freak Models
The Ulysse Nardin Freak Out ref. 2053-132/03.1 is a 45-mm titanium watch. The manual tourbillon caliber UN-205 ticks away inside its case and provides it with an impressive 7-day power reserve. A new timepiece will set you back around 40,500 USD. The 2053-132/BLACK is the same watch but with a black coating. It also sells for about 40,500 USD.
The Freak With Silicon and Diamonds
Ulysse Nardin introduced the Freak 28'000 V/h Diamond Heart in 2005. This watch had several new features, including movement components made of diamond and diamonds set on the movement bridges and platinum case. It also comes with the patented Dual Ulysse escapement, replacing the conventional Swiss anchor escapement. The two escape wheels and a triangular lever with two small lugs set this escapement system apart.
The 44.5-mm Freak Diamond Heart's platinum case houses the manual in-house caliber UN-200. This movement boasts a tourbillon and a 168-hour (or 7-day) power reserve. Like every Freak, it also serves as the minute "hand." Ulysse Nardin mounts this rare watch on a blue alligator leather strap. The final timepiece costs about 133,000 USD.
The InnoVision and InnoVision 2
In 2005, Ulysse Nardin developed the concept watch InnoVision with over ten innovations. These innovations highlighted their role as pioneers and trailblazers in the realm of silicon technology. The Le Locle-based manufacturer slowly introduced these new features to their series models. Nowadays, silicon shock protection and hairsprings are standard features of all Ulysse Nardin watches.
Ulysse Nardin presented the InnoVision 2 ten years later at SIHH Geneva. The manufacturer's engineers and watchmakers proved their ingenuity once more with this concept timepiece. It boasts another ten new technologies, which are also set to find their way into the brand's series models. A few of the InnoVision 2's highlights are a new, tremendously efficient winding mechanism called the "grinder," a constant force escapement, and a silicon bridge with a sapphire coating. This coating improves the component's durability and is considerably more affordable than the diamond coating found on earlier timepieces.