The Ulysse Nardin Freak is one of the most iconic “concept” watches there is and has been so since its polarizing release back in 2001. I say concept watch because the Freak is as original and daring today as it was over 10 years ago. The crown-less, dial-less and hand-less watch has gone received several little upgrades and facelifts through the years, yet retains the same instantly recognizable look.

During Baselworld I got to see two Freak pieces, the Phantom and the all-new Cruiser.

The Freak Phantom is a face-lifted rose gold version of the Diavolo, featuring a tourbillon carrousel, and for the first time, silicium is used in its patented hairspring and other escapement components. Remember that the original Freak from 2001 was the first watch to use silicium in an escapement, so were we say Ulysse Nardin implementing the technology to other parts of the movement.


The use of a transparent ruby for the tourbillon cage is a very neat touch; you’d think that’s why they called it the Phantom.


The case back acts as a power reserve indicator, where the mainspring is visible through an aperture and indicated by two graduated red curves on each side. When fully wound (by rotating the case back bezel), the watch delivers a running time of 7 days.



The Freak Cruiser is the latest addition to the line and sees the biggest design evolution in the Freak line to date. The bezel, which also acts as the time-setting crown, is given a maritime motif with its raised and polished rose gold waves set against the vulcanized black rubber bezel, as seen on the Phantom and Diavolo.


The movement has also been rehauled, this time equipped with a new Dual Ulysse silicon escapement, which uses direct impulse from two escape wheels without the traditional pallet fork and anchor wheel. Notice that each silicon wheel is a different colour. The upper bridge with the gear train and escapement (not to mention the minute indictaor) has also been redesigned, this time taking the form of a ship’s anchor. Unfortunately I was too distracted by pieces like the Stranger and the Skeleton Manufacture Tourbillon that I regrettably couldn’t take more shots of this one.


Every Freak is a winner in my book, though I find this latest Cruiser as visually captivating as it is mechanically fascinating.

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