Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Shock Value: Ulysse Nardin FreakLab

Ulysse Nardin rocked the world of watches with the original Freak (a watch without dial, crown and hands) and now offers something a little different…

Dec 04, 2015 | By null

Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin rocked the world of watches in 2001 with the original Freak timepiece (a watch without dial, crown and hands) and now offers something a little different with the Ulysse Nardin boutique edition FreakLab. The FreakLab made its global debut at BaselWorld this year, bringing yet more innovations to watchmaking, including a newly centralized balance wheel. Collectors of course will recall that the original Freak had an off-centered escapement assembly, somewhat balancing the rest of the gear train visible dial-side. Features-wise, the FreakLab also includes the very first date display in the Freak line and new proprietary shock absorption system, UlyChoc. Indeed the in-house calibre UN-210 is very impressive indeed, with hairspring, escape wheels and anchor in silicon

Considering that the Freak was a monster from the start, it is hard not to think of the date here as a missed opportunity. The Freak deserves a date function every bit as extreme as its other timekeeping functions. No doubt adding a date function was challenging but we think the watchmakers should have thought about how to deliver an extraordinary date function. The limited edition (99 pieces only) version, exclusive to Ulysse Nardin boutiques around the world, also adds a dimension of material experimentation. The case middle and lugs are in blackened titanium while the bezel is in carbon fiber. We are not sure what process has been applied to get this finish on the titanium but we are willing to bet it is not anodizing! Likewise, we are unsure what the effect of having the balance at the center of the watch is and we won’t speculate here. Nevertheless, a central escapement seems like a good idea, if we only think of the escapement. This sentiment is amplified when one thinks of this movement, which has a massive mainspring beneath the exposed gear train and escapement methodically and merrily going about their dance of time.



  • Dimensions: 45mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, date
  • Power reserve: 7 days
  • Movement: Mechanical, ultra-thin, manual-winding, calibre CRMA6
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: Titanium and carbon fiber, with rubber strap
  • Limited to 99 pieces

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