The Freak is back and more of a champion than ever. Uncluttered, with the balance wheel recentered and equipped with a date function for the first time, this masterpiece now incorporates the UlyChoc safety system, a new generation of shock absorbers.
Born out of determination to continuously push the boundaries of watchmaking, the Freak collection has brought together the boldest innovations of the past fourteen years, originating both from Ulysse Nardin and the watchmaking industry as a whole. Thus the Freak was the first watch to incorporate a silicium escapement in 2001, a diamond escapement in 2005 and the Dual Ulysse escapement the same year. As stunning as ever with the bold nautical character of its Tourbillon using an anchor and sail as hands, the new FreakLab is easily legible and features the date at 4 o'clock. On the technological side, it is for the first time equipped with the UlyChoc safety system, a new generation of shock protection devices.
The Freak's avant-garde design remains unrivalled to this day. With neither dial nor hands, it is constructed so that the movement turns about its own axis. Connected together at the center of this unusual ship, the lower deck thus displays the hours, while the upper deck – which carries the gear train, the balance-wheel and balance-spring unit and the exclusive Dual Ulysse silicium escapement – shows the minutes.
The Dual Ulysse escapement also marks a significant technical advance: it has abandoned the traditional pallet fork and escape wheel. Two silicium impulse wheels, each with eighteen active, meshing teeth, alternately activate a stopper which transmits its energy directly to the balance staff, first in one direction, then in the other. Thus this mechanism, which requires no lubrication, always delivers its force in the direction of the rotation of the balance wheel, minimizing friction.
On the new FreakLab, the entire floating upper bridge has been completely redesigned. First, the gear train has been made smaller in order to reposition the balance-wheel and balance-spring at the center of the movement. This operation lightened the whole and made it easier to read the hours. At the same time, the oscillating unit has been equipped with UlyChoc shock absorbers, entirely designed, developed and produced in-house. A classical system comprises five micro-elements: the block, the setting, the jewel, the counterpivot and the spring. With simplification in mind and special focus on efficiency, Ulysse Nardin replaced three of these functions with a single one-piece component made of silicium, a genuine world first which is the subject of a patent application. This solution avoids forces of play and friction, enabling the balance staff to be perfectly recentered in the event of an impact.
Flaunting more of a corsair facade than ever, with an anchor to show the hours and a bridge representing a sail for the minutes, the FreakLab is phenomenally easy to manipulate. A safety clip between the horns at 6 o'clock frees the rotating bezel sculpted in the shape of waves. This is used to set the hours and minutes when rotated clockwise, and the date when rotated anticlockwise. And the mainspring barrel – designed for a power reserve of more than seven days – is wound by the other bezel. Thus the two bezels, front and back, are constituent parts of the movement.