Ulysse Nardin presented its Freak X model, a more traditional (relatively) and accessible (ditto) evolution of the avant-garde, original 2001 Freak in 2019. This year, the brand — renowned these days for both its historical connection to marine chronometry and its bravura technical innovations — unveils two new versions of the Freak X: a polar-white “Ice” model in titanium and a fiery “Magma” edition in lava-red carbon fiber and black DLC titanium.
The 43-mm case of the Freak X Magma melds ultra-light carbon fiber with a red, marbled epoxy resin that renders each case’s surface unique as well as highly scratch-resistant. Aesthetically, the effect is reminiscent of volcanic obsidian rock and the lava that flows through it. The bezel has a variety of sandblasted and polished finishes and the black leather strap is red-accented, as are the dial’s hour indices, which are also treated with Super-LumiNova for nighttime legibility.
The Freak X Ice is designed to evoke “prehistoric glaciers” with its alabaster-toned, white-matte-finished titanium case, monotone white dial with navy blue indices, and perforated white leather strap with rubber coating. As in the Magma edition, the case has a sapphire crystal in the back to showcase the movement, Caliber UN-230.
Like their 2019 predecessor, the Freak X Magma and Ice editions are each highlighted by a carousel-type, baguette-shaped movement, which turns on itself once every hour to indicate the time in the now-famous “freakish” manner — i.e., with no dial and no hands, the hour indicated by a moving wheel and the minute by the movement’s dial-side-mounted central bridge. What distinguishes the Freak X design from that of the original, manual-winding Freak, and that of the Freak Vision, which added automatic winding, is the use of a traditional crown; the earlier models are notable for lacking a traditional winding crown and utilizing the watch’s bezel for setting and correcting the time.
Caliber UN-230, which is described by Ulysse Nardin as a “fusion” of two preceding Freak calibers, the UN-118 and UN-250 (the latter of which powers the Freak Vision), is slightly more stripped down than either, with fewer wheels. This self-winding movement also incorporates an extra-wide, ultra-light balance wheel made of silicon, which beats at 3 Hz and is stabilized by nickel flyweights and micro-blades. Fully wound, it provides the watch a power reserve of 72 hours.
Prices are 27,000 euros (about $29,250) for the Freak X Magma, a boutique-only 250-piece limited edition; and 24,000 euros (about $26,000) for the Freak X Ice.