The Ulysse Nardin Freak family does what it says on the case. Unlike any other watches in the world, they are outliers — created without hands or a dial. This is blue-sky watchmaking, with a pinch of lunacy thrown in for good measure.
The newest addition to the family is released as the product of over 10 years of continuous research and development. A whirling marvel of micro-engineering, the Freak neXt is a prototype watch, created to showcase Ulysse Nardin’s technological expertise and the brand’s flexible silicium blade technology.
This flying oscillator is made up of four layers of flexible silicon, with a solid layer acting as the flywheel. It’s a feat of engineering that’s not only fascinating to look at, but also removes the need for jewels and pivots in watchmaking.
Of course, the use of silicon is nothing new for Ulysse Nardin. The very first Freak, released in 2001, was the first watch of any type to use this revolutionary, anti-magnetic material. It makes sense, then, that they’re still finding new ways to use it almost two decades later.
And eliminating the need for jewels and pivots is a significant advancement in the field. Any watchmaker will tell you that the more pivot points — and, in turn, lubricant — you have in a watch, the more can go wrong and the harder your watch has to work. So, by removing many of these pivot points and lubricants, Ulysse Nardin have created a watch that can run faster, more efficiently and more accurately.
Even if you have little understanding of what’s going on in the case, the watch is still incredibly impressive. With all of the mechanics on display, it is visually striking and uses SuperLuminova to wonderful effect — especially in the four tubes that run the length of the bridge and act as your ‘minute hand’.
Then there’s the all-white colour scheme. Highlighted with blue and green details, it affords the watch an almost space-age feel — a touch of futuristic design to complement the technological advancements inside.
So, while this might only be a one-off concept watch, keep your eyes trained on Swiss watchmaker in the years to come to see just how this peacocking flying oscillator or out-of-this-world colour scheme will make it into production models.
Ulysse Nardin Freak neXt