The Freesdial watch from Nord Zeitmaschine is one of those watches that you love or hate because there is no way possible that this watch will be indifferent to you. In my case, this mechanical wonder is a profound love – one of the watches that makes me stop, during the day, from what I am doing and think what do I have to do to own one.
The name of this watch comes from the concept of freedom of the elements of this watch – nothing is fixed: the minutes’ hand has no typical rotation, the minutes’ dial is comprised of four independently moving elements without a fixed symmetry.
Daniel Nebel, the man behind the NORD Zetmaschine watches, explains: “the FREESDIAL name, which the watch bears, on the one hand, describes that the watch has dials that are not fixed in place (FREE DIALS) and on the other hand that the hands and dials of this watch move in “FREESTYLE”. The special minute hand, which also changes in length, moves over the moving dials (FREE DIALS). On the back of the watch, 3 additional, freely rotating indicator discs (FREE DIALS) are integrated into the winding rotor. These 3 indicator discs are each installed centrally with a ball bearing and rotate freely around their respective axis of rotation. The hand and dials of the minute indication move in a specific “FREESTYLE” manner and fundamentally differ from other watches, which usually feature a fixed watch face and hands that continuously rotate from the centre of the watch.“
The Freesdial Collection has now three watches with a different combination of dials and hands colour, each limited to 97 pieces. In the picture above, the Freesdial V1 has the mechanical parts coated with black gold / white rhodium and minutes’ hand in dark yellow gold.
The case is nicely manufactured from brushed stainless steel with polished steel bezel and sapphire crystal that is secured with 8 screws on top and the same for the back. The side cutouts help to reduce the watch weight to 110g but in the same time have an architectural add to the case shape.
The case with 44.3 mm diameter and a height of 14.7 mm or 15.7mm with domed crystal has two crowns, each with double o-ring seals. The crown suffers the same weight reducing treatment and resembles Solomonic columns.
In the picture below are easily visible the details of the case finishes: the brushed body and the mirror polished bezel with two angles, that make the polishing process difficult and the beautiful crown.
The most spectacular part of the Freesdial is the complicated construction of the dial: everything is thought to the last detail, nothing is random or left unfinished/incomplete.
The minutes’ hand assembly group is built using 27 individual components. The hand is moved by two counter-rotating gear wheels with fitted eccentric cams and for minutes display are also used two movable dials.
The amount of work and finishes only on the minutes’ hand is unbelievable: brushing, bevelled edges, polishing, perlage and in the end the montage. The yellow gold tip is brushed and has the edges bevelled and it looks great on the entire dial construction.
Daniel explains: “The hand changes its length over the course of the 60 minutes by means of the additional eccentric lever. The additional eccentric lever is connected via a connecting rod with the hand tip that shifts. As a result, the tip of the hand moves and slides up and down on the main hand, in which the tip of the hand achieves the greatest lift per minute at approx 15 minutes and 45 minutes. In turn, the main hand reaches its greatest lift and highest speed per minute in the area of 60 minutes and 30 minutes and moves slower in the area of 15 minutes and 45 minutes. The two movable dials (FREE DIALS) are driven per 1 gear wheel with a fitted eccentric cam and are designed in such a manner that they have their greatest lift in the area of 15 and 45 minutes.
The dials move in the opposite direction to the hand, which increases the resolution of the time display and improves legibility. The mechanism of the minute indication is generally comprised of 2 groups. Group 1, the movable dials and group 2, the special hand. Due to the use of eccentric cams, which drive the hand and dials, in the course of 60 minutes, they move at varying speeds. The interaction between the hand and dials is designed in such a manner that at the point of high lift per minute of the hand, the dials move with a small lift per minute and vice versa. Each of the 2 dials is mounted on a separate support, which has a ball bearing mounted pivot point. The support to which the respective dial is secured has a weight on the opposite side and is designed in such a manner that the centre of gravity of the entire dial support group is located exactly above the ball bearing mounted pivot point.“
The date indication is done using a large window on the top left of the dial. Symmetrical, an additional date window is placed on the right side and covered by a grill to obtain a visual equilibrium, to have a balanced amount of details and depths.
The hour indication uses a disc placed on the lower right side with a bridge on top wearing the Nord Zeitmaschine name and a tip for the hour indication. Above the hour disc, there is a small plate with the number of the watch, in this case, the No. 18.
The GMT / second-time-zone indication uses a 24h ring with ink filled Arabic numerals and indexes that can be adjusted with the left crown in both directions at any time and completely independently.
For the date/night indication the fixed, engraved disc from the centre of the GMT display is used with its arrow: upper half of the disc – day or the lower half as night.
If the dial ever gets you bored, even if I don’t understand how could this be possible, you just need to turn the watch and have fun with the back side where the movement of the watch doesn’t only spin the winding rotor, but also the three smaller discs with a five-arm indicator.
The rotor itself is a full 360 degrees complete piece with weight concentrated around the beautifully designed and executed 777 game.
The three smaller discs are mounted on ball bearings and move freely – FREE DIALS on the winding, reverse mounted rotor. These have no mechanical function and are just for fun and for visual design.
“The following 5 digits are visible per each small indicator disc: 7, 5 (shown as a 5-pointed star), 3 (shown as a 3-pointed star), 1 (shown as an arrow) and 0. Due to the movement of the watch, the 3 small freely movable indicator discs are brought into movement, enabled by an asymmetrical cut-out on the inside of the indicator discs. Three markings are visible centrally on the winding rotor, to which the 3 indicator discs point during standstill. The highest number of combinations is 3 times a 7, therefore 777, which point to the central markings of the winding rotor.” – Daniel Nebel
The second variant of the Freesdial, the V2 has the mechanical parts coated with white rhodium and black gold being a nice combination of contrasts.
The Nord Zeitmaschine Freesdial V3 has the hand and dials in blue and the winding rotor also blue coated. This is my favourite version – the contrast of the dial and movement with the blue elements is very appealing to me and I consider it has the most dramatic look of all three.
Powering the Freesdial watches is the very complicated machine – caliber NORD N4 based on the reliable and robust ETA2824: a 28800 vph or 4Hz and having a power reserve up to 42 hours.
The NORD N4 has 30 jewels and 14 integrated precision ball bearings used by the various cams and wheels. The sliding parts, the “butterfly” wings are built using Arcap alloys – a proprietary group of alloys that do not contain iron and are not magnetic.
This extraordinary movement has Haute Horlogerie finishes and looks amazing: unusual minutes indication with a hand that changes in length and is controlled via two counter-rotating eccentric cams and 2 movable dials, hours indication, day & night indication, GMT and date.
The Freesdial watch costs 23,700 CHF without taxes and can be ordered with the desired number, maximum 97, if still available. This timepiece comes with a 26mm wide calf leather strap.
I really appreciate that the NORD Zeitmaschine is keeping a certain personal direction, a clear signature that makes the watches easy to recognise. And even if a basic principle is met in all the watches, every collection is distinct and original.
I would like to thank Daniel Nebel for the images, information and the great time spent together. Please visit the NORD Zeitmaschine Website for more information or contact Mr Nebel directly.