Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPSZach Blass
With a name like Freak, this Ulysse Nardin collection wasn’t born to just be unsettling. Rather, it was created to shake things up – to defy what a wristwatch was supposed to look like, and how it was meant to function. In 2001, the Freak debuted with no conventional hands, no conventional dial and no crown, and it was also the first watch to debut silicon in its movement. Nearly two decades later, the Freak X was born as a next-generation compromise of sorts – with a simplified, yet still complex, movement and the inclusion of a traditional crown. This was a Freak that offered the cool carousel movement experience of the original, with the olive branch of a traditional winding and setting experience. Today, the next entry within the collection is unveiled – the Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPS.
This not the first time we have seen Ulysse Nardin use their ‘Magma’ carbon composite. With the Freak X Magma, we had fiery red carbon composite flanks that immediately gave the volcanic vibes of magma cascading down a volcano. In this khaki green colour, it is more like volcanic camouflage – which admittedly does not make much sense. It’s a Damascus-like pattern of black swirls interrupting the khaki green colour of the flanks, evocative of a military operations aesthetic, thus the OPS (operations) name. Ulysse Nardin explains: “It’s produced by weaving carbon fibre with a green epoxy resin, giving it its signature three-dimensional look. No two cases are the same.” At 43mm in diameter and 13.38mm thick including the sapphire crystal, it is certainly not a small watch, but it does wear rather ergonomically for its dimensions. Try it on, you might be surprised.
Ulysse Nardin would say there is no dial to the watch, but between the time indication integrated into the front side of the movement, outer rehaut that conveys the minutes, and a skeletal ring with sector-like hour batons, time-telling is simple. The broad hand closest to the surface of the movement indicates hours, and the the brighter and longer hand is tasked with minutes. Both the hands and hour batons have a case-matching SuperLuminova coating for visibility in darkness.
Two fabric straps are available for the watch, one in a case-matching khaki green and another in black made of recycled fish nets – something Ulysse Nardin has used extensively. Each is secured via a hook and loop fastener, doing a great job of offering that military ops vibe. I think with louder and more playful or casual wardrobes, the green will be the way to go, but for more serious or stealth moments, the black will tone things down a tad.
The in-house automatic calibre UN-230 is not the most glamorous movement to look at, but that’s because everything you really want to see is on the dial. The notable aspect about this 72-hour power reserve movement is the fact that the hands are really rotating bridges of the movement. At the opposite end of the indicating point on the long minutes hand, you’ll find the large silicon balance wheel and escapement in action. Because the bridge and minutes indication are one and the same, the escapement revolves around the dial once every hour – a one-hour carousel tourbillon if you will. Because of the dynamic positioning of the escapement, like a standard tourbillon, its rotation around the dial works to offset the effect of gravity over a longer period. It is a really neat mechanism, one few manufactures have realised.
As far as the novelty of the watch, it is very much the same as what we have seen from the Freak X these last few years – just in a new colour scheme. Whereas the Freak X Magma may have intimidated buyers with its bold look, the Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPS has a stealth camouflage look that I think people will be more readily able to get behind.
Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPS pricing and availability
The Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPS is available now for purchase. Price: US$33,800
|Model||Freak X OPS|
|Reference Number||2303-270-2A-KAKI/0A (black strap)
2303-270-2A-KAKI/0B (green strap)
|Case Dimensions||43mm (D) x 13.38mm (T)|
|Case Material||Magma carbon composite, DLC titanium|
|Water Resistance||50 metres|
|Crystal(s)||Sapphire crystal front and back|
|Dial||Circularly brushed grey, open|
|Strap||Khaki green fabric or black recycled fishing net fabric, hook and loop fastener|
|Movement||UN-230, in-house, automatic|
|Power Reserve||72 hours|