Freak was bizarre and artful when it debuted in March 2001, and remains cutting-edge even 20 years later. But unlike highly modern creations from the likes of De Bethune and Urwerk, Freak arguably gets less credit than it deserves, simply because Ulysse Nardin is not a niche independent watchmaker.
But that doesn't detract from the concept, which is edgier than ever. The Freak S, launched earlier this year, is now the flagship model in the Freak series. A first for Freak, it reimagines the iconic carousel display, now with twin inclined balance wheels linked by a differential.
The Freak, the iconic piece of the modern Ulysse Nardin (UN) brand, was and is interesting because it subverts traditional movement construction. Most of the moving parts are mounted on a carousel on the dial that doubles as the minute hand, while below the dial there is a huge mainspring that takes up most of the case.
Although the Freak was launched in 2001, long before most of today's best-known avant-garde timepieces, no other replica watches online combines unorthodox form and function quite like the Freak. For example, four years before Urwerk launched its satellite cube hour display, securing the Freak's status as a groundbreaking creation.
While the Freak's essence has mostly been preserved in its various post-launch iterations, the concept's appeal has been watered down by its many iterations since launch -- dozens at last count.
The Freak S is the latest in a series of Freaks, but arguably the best in terms of technical superiority, aesthetics and wearability. In fact, the Freak S may be the best iteration since the early 2000s, as it has all the qualities that defined the Freak while also boasting impressive new elements like the twin balances.
Watches with dual oscillators are objectively rare and often expensive (especially when it comes to Greubel Forsey iterations). Some of them are iconic, like FP Journe Resonance and Philippe Dufour Duality. In this rare segment of the market, the Freak S still manages to distinguish itself with its exotic merry-go-round construction and high-tech silicon oscillators, while being more affordable in the dual balance category.
From a technical point of view, the Freak S stands out not only for its visible features, but also for its improved functionality. For example, the chronograph function is better - at least in theory - because the extra balance wheel helps to offset the beat error of the other balance wheel.
The Freak S wholesale fashion watches is equipped with UN's proprietary self-winding system, which keeps the watch running without having to manually wind the extra-long mainspring tediously like earlier Freaks.
In addition to its technical advantages, the Freak S has been engineered with care. It's still modern and technical, but avoids the gimmicky overdesigns of some recent Freaks. From the case to the movement, the aesthetic is sleek, futuristic and coherent, a perfect fit for the intricate merry-go-round.
Admittedly, a lot of the aesthetic is due to improvements in manufacturing techniques, and this is most evident when comparing the Freak S to the 2001 original, which in hindsight has a simplistic, almost steampunk look.
The ergonomics of the Freak S are just as important, but can also be overlooked. The Freak S (and its siblings in the current line) are more comfortable to wear than previous generations of models. Shorter lugs and a strap without inserts mean a huge increase in comfort.
From the merry-go-round to the double balance to the winding mechanism, almost everything that makes up a Freak watch is unusual or unique, and it's also greater than the sum of its parts. With that in mind, the $137,000 price tag is very reasonable.
This figure is in line with similarly complicated buy luxury replica watches from independent watchmakers, while being more affordable than comparable watches from established brands, although it must be said that nothing really compares to the Freak, S or others.
Sci-fi styleWith many tight lines and sharp corners, the Freak S has an aggressive sci-fi aesthetic that perfectly matches its function.
Despite sharing a similar movement construction, the Freak S bears little resemblance to the earliest Freaks, thanks in no small part to the angular, sculptural carousel. In fact, the dial hardly resembles the face of a watch. If you didn't know where to look, you wouldn't know it told the time.
While its predecessors had to make do with one-dimensional, simple-shaped carousels, the Freak S does it in three dimensions. The carousel resembles a spaceship, kept aloft by two large turbines on either side.
The turntable is massive due to its many components, namely the second balance and differential. Its designers cleverly played with the carousel's scale by giving it prominent gilded bridges and perforated panels.
While watches with a similarly high-tech aesthetic often tend towards darker colours, the Freak S uses a lot of gold-plated parts, which is a smart choice, giving it a slightly luxurious look while providing a better contrast with the dark dial and steel wheels . differential.
In fact, the design of the carousel may be going too far. For example, the perforated panel on the minute hand serves no purpose other than to embellish the already complex structure.replica watches for men
There's a lot going on, so it's hard for the eye to focus on any one detail. Simplifying the overall aesthetic will better highlight key components, namely balance and differentiation.
The outer space theme of the carousel is accentuated by the aventurine glass inlay on the barrel lid. Although aventurine glass is a novelty for UN, it is increasingly used as a finishing material in the Freak collection. Unlike most aventurine glass dials where the material is at its core, the gleaming glass shimmers but fades into the background simply because the spaceship carousel is visually irresistible.
While I love the flashy sci-fi design, I find the case design too angular. The case has many sharp angles and facets, probably more than necessary. On its own, it's a nice iteration of the original Freak and its "bottle cap" bezel, but given the complexity of the dial, it's unnecessary.
That said, all of these details mean that the execution of the case is impressive. The chest could be as complex as the circular one; its creators managed to incorporate a surprising number of angles, facets, and grooves, as well as highly domed crystals.
At 45mm in diameter, the Freak S is about the same size as past Freak models, but it doesn't feel quite as large. What's more, it feels smaller on the wrist.
The fact that the case is not too tall helps - as the crystal accommodates part of the height of the movement - as does the short lugs. Also useful are traditional watch straps with no inserts at the ends. In contrast, most past Freak models used one-piece straps with stiff inserts, which meant they wouldn't fit well on many wrists.Discount replica watches
Going aroundAs is customary with Freak, the Freak S lacks the traditional types of hands and dials. But it still tells the time - with the movement as the hands.
With the hands removed, the watch's moving parts can occupy the free space beneath the crystal. In fact, with the exception of the mainspring and winding system, the entire movement is located on the dial. In true Freak fashion, the gear train and balance components are contained within a central dial shaped like a spaceship.
This setup is also the reason for the huge mainspring - a lot of energy is needed to constantly move the dials, wheels and oscillators that surround the dial. To be fair, the Freak concept is an answer to its own problems, but it's a brilliant, unorthodox idea, well executed, and it makes sense.
The operation of the Freak S stands in stark contrast to the architecturally more traditional entry-level Freak X. It was powered by a standard movement, but reconfigured to house a sole balance and escapement on the dial—in other words, a Freak “lite.”
The central dial rotates every hour and acts as the minute hand, while the disc below the dial rotates every 12 hours and acts as the hour indicator. The concept seems simple, but it's worth exploring how the Freak turns the movement into an indicator of time. Freaks did it for the first time twenty years ago, and it's still a feat.
The starting point is to break down the movement into its three main components: the gear train, barrel and winding mechanism. Each of these components is nearly as wide as the case, and they're stacked one above the other in the above order (starting with the winding mechanism closest to the wrist).
Because the barrel is almost as large as the case diameter, the barrel cover becomes the dial. Here, the barrel cover is inlaid with an aventurine glass disc topped by a fixed gilt hour hand. When the barrel is unrolled—the barrel makes one revolution every 12 hours—the cover rotates, and the hour hand rotates with it to indicate the current time.
On top of the lid is a carousel, but thanks to a set of gears hidden under aventurine discs, the carousel spins faster than the lid makes one revolution every half day. Specifically, the gears have a 1:12 ratio between barrel and disc, creating a multiplier effect so that the disc moves 12 times faster than the barrel cover - or one rotation per hour - thus Make it possible to indicate the minutes.Replica Ulysse Nardin
However, the rotation of the dial does not drive the gear train contained within; the carousel only points to the minutes. Instead, a small gear at one end of the dial connects it to a fixed ring gear on the periphery of the dial. As the merry-go-round rotates, the fixed ring gear forces the pinion to turn, which transfers energy to the gear train and dual oscillators.
double balanceThe final piece of the puzzle is the oscillator. The perfectly timed rotation of the barrel and dial depends on the oscillator, which is the heart of the Freak S, as in any mechanical watch. The oscillator, or more precisely the escapement, allows the mainspring to release its stored energy steadily in fixed amounts. In other words, if the oscillator is not on beat, the barrel may unwind faster or slower, meaning the displayed time will be ahead or behind the real time.
In pursuit of perfect timekeeping, the United Nations has experimented with materials from day one - the original Freak was the first mass-produced watch to use silicon in its movement, in a new "Dual Direct" form with dual silicon The escapement mechanism for the escape wheel.
The Freak S was twenty years ahead of the original in terms of the materials used to manufacture the escapement, hairspring and balance wheel. It makes extensive use of silicon, but its timekeeping performance also depends on the second balance wheel.
Over the centuries, various systems have been invented to keep the oscillation frequency of the balance wheel consistent. Probably the most famous is the tourbillon, which balances positional errors by constantly changing the position of the balance wheel.
Another example is the constant force mechanism, which smoothes the oscillator's energy supply, ensuring it receives a fixed dose of energy every time. And of course Francois-Paul Journe's famous invention, the Resonance relies on double-resonance balancing to produce a stable amplitude.
The Freak S, on the other hand, opts for two balance wheels connected by a differential. The differential is an intermediate device that connects two sets of gears and outputs the average of the two. For example, a car is equipped with a differential so that when the car turns, the wheels can spin at different speeds.
The differential in the Freak S averages the beat rate of each balance, so the error within each balance is averaged between the two. For example, if one balance is running at +3 seconds per day and the other at -3 seconds per day, the difference will average the two to a perfect zero seconds per day.
Each balance wheel beats in opposite ways, which is the ideal scenario for the differential to work its magic. At the other extreme, both scales beat at the exact same rate, leaving no difference that can be averaged. If both balance wheels were running at +3 seconds per day, the output would be +3 seconds per day. In this case, the double balances will keep timekeeping as if they were traditional single balances connected to a standard gear train.
But the fact that both balance wheels are tilted at different angles and are constantly rotated by the dial means that the two balance wheels are never in the same position. Therefore, gravity acts differently on each balance.
In fact, gravity should be the key factor behind any rate change on either balance, as the liberal use of silicon means that neither balance will be affected by adjustment or lubrication, as the silicon parts require neither adjustment nor oiling.
Therefore, the two balances will likely have slightly different rates and different inaccuracies, making the differential an ideal medium for timekeeping performance.
The timing of the Freak S is academic because it does not indicate seconds, and the double balance wheel is difficult to capture on a chronograph. But both technically and visually, the Dual Balance is fun. They're a logical evolution of the original Freak concept and add a lot to the appeal.
Despite being a far cry from orthodox movement construction, the Freak is a fairly functional watch, and so is the Freak S. Reading, winding and setting are easy (although setting may take some time).
While the complex dial can turn off the casual observer, it becomes easy to read once you get used to it. Both the minute and hour hands are large and prominent. At the same time, a large number of Super-Luminova luminous coatings on the hands allow you to easily tell the time in the dark. Both have large "lume" diagrams that are nicely integrated into the design.
As with all full-fledged Freaks—the Freak X is the only one with a traditional crown—the Freak S is set via the bezel. Explain the sharp notched bezel, which also ensures a symmetrical case with clean lines and no crown.
The bezel setting mechanism is a result of the movement's construction: a ring gear around the dial is fixed to the inner circumference of the bezel, so turning the bezel rotates the entire movement at the same time. As mentioned above, the pinion and ring gear are responsible for driving the turntable, which means that the setting mechanism is an ingenious secondary function of the structure.
The only downside to the bezel setting mechanism is that it is more laborious to operate than the crown. It may take several minutes to rotate the bezel to move the hands forward by several hours.
To prevent accidental time adjustments, the bezel is locked by a small tab at six o'clock, a feature that has been standard on the Freak since the second generation. But unlike earlier models, the locking tab is designed to be integrated into the bezel so it appears to be an extension of the bezel both in finish and style.
Finally, there’s the automatic winding system, the in-house developed “Grinder” mechanism first seen on the Freak Innovision 2 concept watch in 2017. The Grinder, a complex system with a peripheral rotor and quadruple winding pawls, is roughly twice as efficient as most traditional automatic winding mechanisms, according to the United Nations.
The mechanism relies on a skeletonized frame with four pawls that can rotate in both directions on a central axis. As it rotates, the pawl grabs the large ring teeth on the periphery of the movement, which turns the winding wheel.
While an efficient winding system eliminates the need for manual winding, the Freak S can still be wound manually by turning the case back like earlier Freak models, most of which were manually wound.Replica Richard Mille
The automatic nature of the movement means that power reserve is no longer a critical issue, but it must be noted that the Freak S has a power reserve of three days, compared to seven days (or more) for earlier models. This is due to the larger and heavier The merry-go-round requires more energy to move, and a slightly flatter mainspring, since both the grinder mechanism and the merry-go-round take up more vertical space.
Advanced finishes are rarely involved in cutting-edge watches, so the mediocre finishes of the first few Freak variants were considered acceptable. Since then, UN has worked hard to polish its movement, which is evident on the Freak S.
This is most evident in the complex components visible on the dial. The decor has enough fine detail to pass a watch at this price, while being clean enough for an ultra-modern style.
The finish of a watch like this should not be judged by traditional benchmarks, as its movement is not the right canvas to convey detail, as the bridges are too narrow and the corners are rounded. The architecture is too modern for such old-school details. Instead, it's better suited for delicate techniques like scrubbing and brushing.
The United Nations has done a great job on these fronts. The bridges are neatly brushed, some of the edges are polished and chamfered – there are no visible milling marks to suggest a hand-finished finish – while the screw heads are lightly chamfered. The steel wheels of the differential are mostly polished to give them a shiny surface.
That said, as Greubel Forsey has done, the movement can be enhanced with a handful of more decorative embellishments in a contemporary style, although this would raise the price to unreasonable levels.
The Freak concept in its original form as a unique product of watchmaking has been further developed in a logical and coherent manner in the Freak S. monster.
While this isn't the first innovative iteration of the model - with ambitious predecessors, including 2018's Freak Vision - the Freak S is certainly the most unusual from a visual standpoint.
It’s worth noting that Freak S launched shortly after UN became a standalone label, or at least after it ceased to be part of the luxury conglomerate. As such, the Freak S bears a resemblance to the 2001 original, launched by an indecent brand headed by an iconoclast, the late Rolf Schnyder. Given what Schnyder accomplished after 2001, I look forward to other outcomes from the United Nations.replica Jacob & Co.