Close-Up: Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom

Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom - recliningUlysse Nardin made the watch cognoscenti sit up and take notice back in 2001, when it unveiled its wildly unconventional Freak watch, one of the first timepieces to use silicon in key parts of its movement. The Freak Phantom, introduced at Baselworld 2013, continues that tradition of innovation and, well, freakishness.

The original Ulysse Nardin Freak, which was the first timepiece to use silicon escapement wheels, also turned heads with its unprecedented design, with no traditional dial, crown or hands. Instead, the watch and its movement were designed so that the movement itself, would rotate in a manner that could indicate the time. The watch has undergone many evolutions since then, including a version that was the first-ever watch to use Ulysse Nardin’s patented “DiamonSil” material, a type of diamond-coated silicon. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom - reclining

The Freak Phantom (an earlier version of this watch was introduced as the Freak Diavalo, but UN reps revealed to us that the “Devilish” moniker was a problem in some Spanish-speaking markets) uses even more silicon parts in the movement than previous Freaks – including for the hairspring and throughout the majority of the escapement. The movement of the Freak Phantom — Caliber UN-208 — is produced entirely in-house, including the oscillator. It is outfitted with an eight-day “flying” carrousel tourbillon, which makes a complete revolution around the center once every hour to indicate hours and minutes. The tourbillon cage, which rotates in on itself once per minute, has an arrow that indicates the passing of the seconds on a transparent half-circle. The “zero” position stays steady on the axis of the minute indicator.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom - side

Both the “flying” motion of the minutes-indication movement and the seconds-indication via the tourbillon cage are enabled by a cutting-edge ball-bearing system that dispenses with the need for a supporting bridge. Like previous versions of the Ulysse Nardin Freak, the Freak Phantom’s movement is wound by turning the bezel on the back of the case (one full rotation is equivalent to 12 hours of power reserve), and the time is adjusted by turning the front bezel. Because of a direct gear link between the three “hands,” the user needn’t worry about throwing the hour, minute or second out of step when adjusting or readjusting the time. The movement offers a very lengthy power reserve of eight days. The Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom is a limited edition of 99 pieces. Its 45-mm diameter case is in 18k rose gold, which contrasts boldly with the black tones of the dial-side movement. The watch retails for $137,000.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Phantom - frontThis article was originally published on August 22, 2013, and has been updated.

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  1. MrTissot

    Another amazing feat of micro-engineering and mechanical madness. Love this so much. Ulysse Nardin is Cream of the Crop!

  2. Debashish

    Ulysse Nardin have created some truly outstanding watches and, I think, Freak Phantom is one of those. Just imagine, even hairspring is also made of Silicon!

    Though the watch is pretty expensive, it is really a fantastic watch!

    Thanks for the fine report, I only wish it was a bit more detailed and had some more pictures!

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