During SIHH 2019, Ulysse Nardin launched a “simpler” version of the Freak. Received with enthusiasm but also with disappointment, the Ulysse Nardin Freak X is a much affordable version compared with the previous model, the Freak Out. A year after the launch, I intend to refresh your memory of this great piece.
Review Ulysse Nardin Freak X
I find the Freak X a much cleaner presence. While I do love the Freak Out, I find the latest model better oriented for a daily watch. The price makes a good argument for my consideration. But before going into detail lets have a look at the official presentation video:
And the Freak X on the wrist:
Ultra-modern material and contemporary appearance
Ulysse Nardin Freak X is presented in four versions using titanium, gold and carbonium. The 43 mm case is pleasantly conceived and finished.
The carbonium case is decorated with black DLC titanium inserts. Note the markings plate that uses screws for fixation.
The naked titanium version presents black PVD inserts. The crown manufactured in titanium follows the case finish and bears the brand logo.
The all-black version is manufactured from titanium with black DLC. The box crystal looks great from any angle. Plus it brings even more depth to the highly mechanised dial.
A fourth version comes in a precious variation of rose gold 5N and titanium with a black DLC finish.
The case is smaller and lighter compared with the Freak Out but it offers a more comfortable wear and a balanced look to a smaller wrist.
A spectacular dial, easier to comprehend
The Ulysse Nardin Freak X offers a much more unpretentious mechanics display. The simplified design offers an unobstructed view of the balance wheel and escapement.
The dial is a delight for the enthusiast with a thing for visible gears. While the dial is not open-worked, the necessary gears to rotate the complex hands are there to see.
The escapement is built on the hands, making them an active part of the show. The minutes’ hand bears the balance wheel on its shoulders like a giant tourbillon cage.
The legibility is quite good. The simpler mechanics does not steal the show as on the case of the bigger, older brother.
A personalised UN-230 to give each watch more character, more personality
Ulysse Nardin Freak X is powered by the Calibre UN-230. The most spectacular detail is, of course, the top carousel. The show is impressive not just visual but also technical. The Calibre Un-230 uses a silicon balance wheel. The hi-tech gimmick uses self-regulating micro-blades. The balance wheel uses the natural air resistance to stabilise its amplitude and increase accuracy.
Calibre UN-230 is an impressive 72 hours power reserve automatic movement. That means you can leave it Friday evening in the drawer over the weekend and Monday it will be good to go. Or excellent if you wear it quite often but you still change it from time to time with other pieces.
The movement presents a qualitative industrial finish. Due to the piece’s style, elaborate hand finishes are not missed. And this “nice to have” will hugely increase the price. I find the overall look and finishes proper, for its idea.
Some personal notes
I have heard people complaining that the Ulysse Nardin Freak X “killed” the Freak idea. The crown addition and the simplified design were considered a no go for some. But I tend to disagree. I find the watch a much proper daily piece. I am not bothered by the crown – it is a normal detail for a watch. Considering the price starting from 21k USD, the Ulysse Nardin Freak X is a redoubtable example of Ulysse Nardin creativity and expertise in playing with materials.
My favourite piece of four is the black DLC version. I consider it the most unpretending piece from the series. While the “coloured” versions are very attractive, the all-black model withdraws the least attention from the surroundings. The Ulysse Nardin Freak X sits well on the wrist and offers good legibility. I think Ulysse Nardin did a really good job with these timepieces offering in only four pieces a good variation in colours and prices.
Ulysse Nardin Freak X Technical Specifications and Price
- 2303-270/03 // 2303-270.1/03
- 2303-270.1/BLACK // 2303-270/BLACK
- 2303-270/CARB // 2303-270.1/CARB
- Calibre UN-230,
- Self-winding movement
- Flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis
- Exclusive central oscillator with large diameter
- 3 Hz Silicium balance wheel
- Index & bridges with Superluminova
- 72 hours
- Titanium / Titanium with PVD finish
- Titanium with black DLC
- Rose Gold 5N / Titanium with black DLC finish
- Carbonium ® matte-finish / Titanium with black DLC
- 43 mm
- Sapphire crystal
- 50 m
- Openwork veal or alligator strap with “point de bride” stitches.
- Freak X Ti Blue: 21’000 USD
- Freak X Ti Black: 21’000 USD
- Freak X Rose Gold: 30’000 USD
- Freak X Carbonium: 24’000 USD