Close-Up: Ulysse Nardin Introduces the Freak X Marquetry

Ulysse Nardin recently launched the Freak X Marquetry, the latest experimental take on the brand’s signature Freak X base design, touting it as the first watch to bring “silicium marquetry” to watchmaking. In effect, Ulysse Nardin has adapted a material used almost exclusively within the industrial electronics manufacturing sector to develop a novel aesthetic for a luxury timepiece. Here’s a closer look at it.

The Freak X Marquetry follows up the Freak X Razzle Dazzle unveiled by the brand last month (below), indicating a revitalized interest by the historically experimental watchmaker in more eye-catching, novel aesthetics. The use of the Freak X base design for both models further testifies to the maison’s renewed interest in adding playfulness to its collection while still maintaining its namesake “freakish” ways.

The watch’s 43-mm titanium case has partial blue PVD accents and an overall satin finishing. The shape of the 50-meter water resistant case follows the template of previous Freak models, with layered elements and a slightly recessed crown on the right side that contributes to its overall substantial appearance while still aiding wearability on the wrist. The watch is secured via a matching blue alligator leather strap with a titanium buckle, which uses a “scratch closing system” that is unique to Ulysse Nardin watches.

While the layered construction of the case is interesting in its own right, the obvious draw is the namesake marquetry dial — dominated by a matte blue surface overlaid with a green double “X,” both produced with silicium marquetry to lock the separate surfaces together. According to Ulysse Nardin, silicium (what English speakers generally call silicon) is extremely fragile and flaky when handled, and producing this dial thus required a tedious process of hand-aying the collage in order to produce the dial’s mosaic appearance. While it’s not evident in the provided photographs, Ulysse Nardin also remarks that the dial glitters under illumination, resembling “a galaxy of interacting laser beams.”

The dial’s unusual timekeeping elements should be familiar to those already acquainted with previous iterations of the Freak X. As part of the layered style, an outer curved ring frames a set of applied hour markers just within its border. In the center, a rotating bridge acts as a minute hand and one of the wheels indicates the hours, working together to provide the signature “flying carrousel” device from which the original Freak model derived its name.

Powering the watch is the in-house Caliber UN-230, which Ulysse Nardin describes as a fusion of the manufacture Caliber UN-118 and the Freak Vision Caliber UN-250, and one which has been used in prior models in the series. The automatic movement stores a 72-hour power reserve, beats at 21,600 vph, and besides featuring the flying carrousel ensemble visible on the dial side, also incorporates an extra-large-diameter silicon oscillator.

The Ulysse Nardin Freak X Marquetry will be available exclusively at brand boutiques later this year, in a limited-production run of 30 editions, with pricing currently set at $31,100.

To learn more, you can visit Ulysse Nardin, here.

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  1. Roger Bouvrie

    When design overtakes functionality, I.e. readability, there is a problem…

  2. Humberto Pacheco

    For an owner of an original Freak which Mr. Schnyder personally put through the engineering process to correct birth defects, I am dismayed by these horrors.

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