Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision
SIHH 2018 - Exclusive Preview
Do you remember the Ulysse Nardin Innovision 2 that was presented exactly a year ago in Geneva? In case your memory is letting you down, let me please remind you what I am talking about with a photo taken by our photographer at the Ulysse Nardin stand. Ulysse Nardin has two characteristics that sharply distinguish it from its competitors; it is a very prolific manufacture in the field of concept watches - a skill that is still not very widespread among watch-manufacturers - and, even more important, it is a company that is able to rapidly transform those concepts into products; a policy that brings this manufacturer closer to the automotive world and gives you an idea of how much those concepts have already been industrialized.
Ulysse Nardin was the first brand to bring silicon into the watch-making world and, this year, the manufacturer translated many of the concepts already present on the Innovision 2 into the Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision; the Freak of the (present) future. The Freak by Ulysse Nardin has immediately distinguished itself as the real trademark of the manufacturer; a watch and a collection that have revived the mechanical movement with its baguette architecture (the caliber and all the gears are arranged on a single horizontal axis) coupled to a carousel tourbillon.
If we take a look at the first press images, one of the objectives used in conceiving the Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision involved stylistically re-editing the Freak, while still preserving its spirit and its main features through its aesthetic simplification; this result was achieved by re-designing the case that still maintains its originally 45mm size, but it is the dial, whose size has dramatically increased.
If we compare the new Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision with a Ulysse Nardin Freak Cruiser currently part of the collection, we will notice that the stylistic language has remained intact, but the Arabic numbers have disappeared and a new ship-shaped bridge now covers the movement. This new amplitude is due to the presence of a domed glass that allows for a thickness reduction of the bezel and the new design of the lugs, which are now more tapered and balanced if compared to those of the original Freak that was originally launched in 2001.
The successful effect creates a strong contrast between the circular geometry of the case and the flying carousel that features a more linear, less classic and more futuristic design. These are the stylistic concepts that the Innovision 2 had originally introduced. In Ulysse Nardin, the aesthetic language is never an end in itself, but it is rather always functional to the tangible innovations introduced on the watch itself. The UN-250 caliber is the first automatic movement that has equipped the case of a Freak, although the option to manual rewind the watch through the bezel is still there (the time can also be adjusted through the bezel); a smart solution that makes the case entirely symmetrical.
With its Freak Vision, Ulysse Nardin has launched several technical innovations; the Grinder automatic re-winding system - perhaps an involuntary reference to the sailing world that uses even the slightest movement of your wrist to re-wind the barrel. During the photo-shooting session, this is one of the features that I will be able to see with my very own eyes by looking through the see-through case-back, and it is also a characteristic that, according to Ulysse Nardin, doubles the timepiece's efficiency if compared to other traditional re-winding systems. The second feature is the Ulysse Nardin Anchor Escapement; a constant force escapement entirely made of silicon that touches on a fundamental technical point in the precision of energy release.
The last characteristic, but perhaps the most apparent one of them all, since it is clearly visible from the dial side, is the balance wheel that includes silicon blades and solid nickel elements used to stabilize the amplitude of the oscillation of the regulator. These are details that we will go back to during the presentation event for the press and the one-to-one meetings.
Meanwhile, the Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision is a beautiful reality that Ulysse Nardin has, wisely, already positioned within a price level well below the € 100,000 range that is typical of all high quality tourbillons. The exact retail price totals € 95,000 and it is quite an extraordinary retail price (the same can be said for the 2017 retail price of the Marine Tourbillon when it was originally launched) if we consider the rate of innovation, the uniqueness of the technical solutions and the fact that this timepiece is not the extension of an existing collection, but rather a totally new watch. Moreover, this item is made of platinum and, I guess, in very limited quantities. Early adopters and lovers of the haute-horlogerie; it is now up to you!
(Photo credit: courtesy of Ulysse Nardin)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®