Hiding in Plain Sight: Introducing the Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle

After wowing at Watches & Wonders with statement pieces from its Blast and Diver X collections, Ulysse Nardin has returned its focus to perhaps the most emblematic of its modern product families, the Freak. The new Freak X Razzle Dazzle follows up the most recent Freak X models of nearly a year ago, the Freak X Magma and Ice editions, and continues the avant-garde legacy of one of the brand’s best-known yet most unusual designs.

Though it may not seem obvious at first glance, the “razzle dazzle” design on the dial does have roots of a sort in Ulysse Nardin’s seafaring history as a maker of marine chronometers and timepiece supplier to world navies. The op-art-style pattern was used most famously during World War I as a camouflage pattern on ships, as it was shown to confuse and mislead enemy sailors launching attacks, reducing any landed hits on what were then relatively fragile warships. The pattern was eventually phased out as radar and other technologies were phased in, essentially making the visual-focused camouflage obsolete. While outdated in navy vessels, its use on the latest Freak X, adds a novel, artistically geometrical look to the already captivating design.

The watch’s 43-mm titanium case has a black DLC coating and a sandblasted finishing; its shape follows the template of previous Freak designs, with layered elements and a slightly recessed crown on the right side contributing to its substantial appearance. The watch, which is water-resistant to 50 meters, is available in two references, distinguished by their choice of strap, either in black rubber and leather or white calfskin, both with “point de bride” stitching.

Drawing the gaze of the wearer from its base beneath the case’s sapphire crystal is the namesake “Razzle Dazzle” patterned dial, whose alternating black and white zigzags give it a captivating appearance akin to a modern art piece, like something dreamed up by, or adapted from, the works of Sol LeWitt.

The dial, like the case, is layered in its structure and hosts the usual hallmarks of the Freak family, albeit a bit more obscured due to the eye-popping pattern. It features an outer curved ring with applied hour markers just within it, while a central bridge acts as a minute hand and one of the wheels indicates the hours. This “flying carrousel” assembly is the signature style for the Freak X, a watch that made history by eschewing traditional hands for this “freakish” particular manner of timekeeping.

Powering the watch is the in-house caliber UN-230, which according to the brand is a fusion of the manufacture Caliber UN-118 and the Freak Vision Caliber UN-250. 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 uses an extra-large-diameter silicon oscillator. The movement is visible, with its skeletonized rotor, behind a sapphire exhibition caseback, its blackened surface treatment matching the color theme of the rest of the watch.

The Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle will be available via the brand and its authorized dealers later this year, with pricing currently set at $27,300.

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

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