Friday, September 21, 2007

The FREAK(s) of Ulysse Nardin

There is no dial, there are no hands, there is no crown, and the movement itself rotates to tell the time. One of the more important developments in the history of watchmaking, the Ulysse Nardin Freak is definitely a new mechanical breed. It's as if the watchmakers lived on The Island of Doctor Moreau. One of the earlier mustations (2003's No.339) is being offered at auction next week-->Link

As explained by HH, "The concept was a technical tour de force, requiring the combined efforts of three of watchmaking’s most renowned engineers. The arrangement of parts was inconceivably unorthodox - it has essentially no true case! The crystal and the bezel are actually part of the movement; the Freak has no crown, no hands and the movement pivoted to indicate time."

No. 339 Freak

And most recently, Ulysse Nardin developed the 'InnoVision' Freak (below). Improving breakthroughs with more extensive use of the light flexible material silicium throughout the movement and 96 non-lubricated ball bearings guide the barrel both vertically and laterally, in fact, the entire watch is now oil/coating/lubrication free.

A chart of the 10 innovations of the InnoVision Freak

If you'd like to attempt a deeper understanding of this wormhole of complexity, continue reading in depth articles here-->Horomundi and-->The Purists or download the PDF's at the Ulysse Nardin's website-->Link

The Freak is the brainchild of Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, as interpreted by Ulysse Nardin's research and production team. "The Freak" is a tourbillon of 7-day duration, without hands or winding crown. In most tourbillons, the balance wheel assembly rotates once per minute in a cage. In the "Freak", the whole movement rotates once per hour, the drive wheel meshing with teeth around the whole circumference of the dial, a similar arrangement mounted below driving the hour wheel. The mainspring is located underneath the movement and spans the entire diameter of the case. The extra large size of the mainspring provides the watch with a power reserve of one week. Winding is accomplished by turning the back of the case anticlockwise. The “Dual Direct Escapement” invented by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, astronomer, mathematician and master watchmaker. Among his many inventions for Ulysse Nardin are the "Perpetual Ludwig" and the "Trilogy" of astronomical wristwatches. The “Dual Direct Escapement” consists of 2 impulse wheels transmitting the energy directly to the balance wheel; they each rotate in the same direction and connect alternately with the balance. Using the technology of the CSEM (Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique), the 2 wheels at the center of the “Dual Direct Escapement” are plasma-engraved out of single-crystal silicon, the material from which computer chips are made. This technique offers the greatest hardness coupled with low weight."

Source - Antiquorum

Released earlier this year, the "The FREAK DIAMonSIL® in platinum is the first timepiece sporting a synthetic nanocrystal diamond escapement grown on a silicium raw part." (source -> HH)

Ulysse Nardin website-->Link

Be sure to enter The Watchismo Times 1st anniversary vintage chronograph giveway!-->LINK

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