Ulysse Nardin Freak One

by Sameera Gamage

This latest release by Ulysse Nardin sees the brand return to the Freak model, to update one of the most daring timepieces created in the 21st century. The original Freak released back in 2001 was well ahead of its time, with design innovation never seen before on a timepiece. Under the leadership of maverick owner Rolf Schnyde and genius watchmaker Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, the Freak was a wild creation, to say the least. It had no hands, no dial, and no crown.

These three signature characteristics rewrote high-end watchmaking codes, and since the release of the original Freak, several models have been created since, all following the same iconic principles. Now, more than two decades after the release of the Freak, Ulysse Nardin is celebrating this joyously unorthodox timepiece with the release of the Freak ONE.

The brand’s long-standing Chief Product Officer explains the role the original Freak played in watchmaking history by stating ‘You cannot overstate the impact of the Freak on Swiss watchmaking,’ says Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Ulysse Nardin’s Chief Product Officer. ‘The application of silicon in the escapement was a revolution. And its design was so disruptive: no dial, no hands, no crown. It was the industry’s first hyperwatch. To aficionados, in watchmaking there is only before the Freak – and after.’

The Freak ONE is the latest timepiece that’s inspired by the Freak’s three signature characteristics. It takes design cues from previous models. For instance, the movement is regulated by a silicon hairspring that was introduced back in 2008, an escapement treated with DIAMonSIL, a trailblazing synthetic diamond, and silicon plasma surfacing treatment which was first applied to the Freak back in 2007. Ulysse Nardin is making the Freak ONE the brand’s flagship watch, and the company’s center of gravity as it creates its new independence.

The ingenious way of operation of the Freak One is carried out the same as its predecessors, albeit now a different aesthetic can be seen. Firstly (1) the bezel and locker is used as the Freak’s unconventional time setter. The locker at 6 o’clock position is lifted, which then releases the setting system (similar to pulling out the crown on a traditional timepiece). By turning the bezel, it rotates the entire movement which also doubles as the timepiece’s hands. By pushing the locker back down again, it fixes the bezel and time in place.

The barrel cover (2) sits underneath the movement and acts as the rotating hour disc. The hour indication is carried out through the v-shaped pointer (filled with Super-LumiNova) and will make a full rotation once every 12 hours. The minute bridge (3), quite possibly the coolest feature on this timepiece, hovers under the sapphire crystal and carries the entire gear train, an oversized silicon oscillator, and the 60-minute flying carrousel tourbillon.

Through the open case back, we can see the Freak ONE’s automatic movement which gives out a power reserve of 72 hours. The patented Grinder® system has been created by Ulssye Nardin and is designed to capture energy from even the tiniest of wrist movements. The rotor is connected to the frame using four blades, which gives the system twice as much angular stroke compared to the standard automatic winding mechanical movement.

Lastly, to round off this freak creation is the integrated rubber strap. Continuing Ulysse Nardin’s drive for a more sustainable future, the rubber strap is made from 30 percent recycled production waste by Ulysse Nardin’s Swiss partner BIWI. The ideal successor to continue the Freak line, the Freak ONE comes packed with technology all the while remaining durable, easy to use, and be worn as a daily.

Reference: 2405-500-2A/3D


  • Case: 44mm
  • Case Material: 44mm black DLC-coated titanium case with a satin finish, rose gold 5N bezel, black titanium case back
  • Dial: Flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis, silicon oversized oscillator, and balance spring
  • Crystal:  Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 3 Bar (30m)
  • Movement: Automatic Caliber UN-240 Manufacture
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Bracelet/Strap: Black rubber ‘ballistic’ textured strap (2405-500-2A/3D), Black matt alligator leather strap (2405-500-2A/3C), Two-tone rubber strap (2405-500-2A/3A).

Australian Recommended Retail Price: $106, 900

Availability: Limited production (less than 200 pieces in 2023)

You may also like