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Watches and Wonders 2022: A review on the new Ulysse Nardin Freak S.

amanico
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Aaah, the Freak... Here we are facing an Horological UFO which was born in 2001, a real stroke of genius from Ulysse Nardin, a watch which was and still is unique in its kind.

The original Freak on its way to meet the " S " Sister: 

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Frankly speaking, I consider all the versions from 2001 to the latest one, the Freak S, as real Freaks, with the exception of one, issued in 2019, the Freak X. 

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Let's first remember what a Freak is: It is a watch without hands, without a dial nor a crown and with a Carousel movement, which makes a revolution all around the dial in 60 minutes. 

Hence, the Freak X disqualifies as a real Freak, as it has a... Crown. It is a great watch, a good idea, but not a Freak.

The Freak S is a real Freak, with some interesting innovations and a new case. 

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The case is new. Ulysse Nardin told me that it was inspired from the Freak first generation, I have to disagree, here. The first Freak has more curved lugs, the new one has more angular lugs. I don't even see any inspiration here, which doesn't mean it is less appealing. It is just different, and I must say that I like this new case a lot. Moreover, it enhances the technicality of the watch
It also is bigger, with a diameter of 45 mm, and blends ceramic, titanium and rose gold. 
And at the difference with the Freak One, the S is water resistant to 30 meters, while the " One " was not water resistant at all!

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The movement is automatic, with a grinder system which is said to be twice as efficient as classic automatic systems, the oscillating weight being connected to a frame carrying four blades. Once again, or here again, it is not a simple automatic movement, but an original one, as a true Freak movement should be! And it offers a good power reserve of 72 hours, which can be wound through the ring, on the back, shown here

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BUT the true " raison d'être " of the Freak S is on the front side. Here you can see the true originality of the Freak S, its unique character. 

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You still have the baguette movement, but it is way different from the Freak One. 
Indeed, the " minute hand " of the Freak S is shaped like a Space Shuttle, with its two giant balance wheels and the differential as the reactors and the tail, and the arrow minute hand as the nose of the interstellar " engine ", while the hours are displayed by another arrow, you can see on the official pictures at 10 o' clock and on my pictures, at 3 o' clock.

Spectacular. Add the space feeling provided by the black aventurine dial / disc which is dedicated to the hour hand, and you will understand why this new Freak reaches, or better said, goes over the sky to throw us into the heart of the Universe. 

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The originality is not only about aesthetics, but most of all, technique and mechanics.

How does it work? You have not one but two oversized balance wheels in silicon linked to a differential which " spread " the different speeds of the two oscillators, which is a technique borrowed to the Automotive universe. 

The two balance wheels: 

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The differential: 

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The purpose of such an original solution? The stability of the amplitude.

To read the time, you have the arrow of the minute 

In the Freak S, the silicon components of the escapement are coated with diamond... Something which has already been seen in the eponymous Freak... DiamonSil! 

My personal feelings on the Freak S, now: 

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I have been a lover of the Freak from the first hour. An unconditional lover with biased and sometimes excessive feelings on the Freak. In fact I love almost all of them, with the exception of the Freak X which is, per se, a great watch, but not a Freak for the reasons I mentioned. 

No need to tell you how impatient I was to see the Freak S in the flesh. And in real, I was not disappointed. The reason for my initial doubts? The automatic movement, but once I saw it and understood that it was a special one, it was good enough for me. 

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The dial side is really awesome. It brings you in a totally different dimension, crazy enough to deserve being a Freak, a TRUE one. I will say the same for the technical innovations, which are very Ulysse Nardin. 

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Now I have three reserves: 

1/ The fact that it is a limited edition: 75 pieces, only.

2/ A probable consequence of the first point, the price: At over 120, 000 Euros, the retail price is hard to digest. Unlimited, the price may have been lower. 

3/ It is my personal taste, but I would have preferred a white metal ( white gold, platinum, or even better, tantalum... ). With a blue or black aventurine dial, it would have been even more irresistible. 

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Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,

Best.

Nicolas







Comments:
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keks April 25th, 2022-07:26
absolutely stunning would love to see in person to get better grasp of how it wear in terms of size. Also not a huge fan of the strap, would have preferred a rubber or kevlar alternative as it feels more appropriate for a futuristic piece like tihs... the aventurine dial loo... 
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amanico April 25th, 2022-08:35
I am sure any Ulysse Nardin AD or Boutique can arrange that for you. At the beginning, from what I read in the press release, I was a tad skeptic. Once I saw it in real life, it convinced me. 
GregersLars April 25th, 2022-09:11
Thanks for a super review and a good mix between being objective and subjective. Thanks! From your read and the pictures it looks awesome and I am amazed at the level of high horology. As with any watch, it must be seen live. Thanks. Enjoy! Lars  
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amanico April 25th, 2022-10:40
That's typically Ulysse Nardin, and that's why I like them so much. Wait to see the next review I will post on the Blast Moonstruck! 
GregersLars April 25th, 2022-13:47
Yes looking forward to it Nico. From the two pics alone you posted the other day, I liked the Blast better than the Freak. But I am also an esthetician. Enjoy! 
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amanico April 25th, 2022-14:18
That's the big question. The Freak S or the Black Moonstruck, this year? I will give some elements of answer, soon. 
GregersLars April 25th, 2022-15:32
Looking forward to it. :-)  
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amanico April 25th, 2022-15:42
Within the next two weeks... 
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eklektik April 25th, 2022-09:12
Excellent review Nicolas, very informative and as always, a pleasure to read! Next time we meet, I would love to see your Freak, it seems fascinating! Best, E.
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amanico April 25th, 2022-10:41
With great pleasure, my friend. 
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FabR
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If Patek limited editions are reasonably rare, and unique versions produced for special collectors are (in modern times) even more exceptional, titanium pieces appear to be among the most exclusive and prestigious of the entire Patek production. So for some reason my friends, I got very curious about this topic during the past couple of days, and made my small "research" on the web. Here's the stunning result: It appears that only *12* (twelve!) titanium Patek wristwatches are known to have ever existed. ...


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