Introduced in 2001, the Ulysse Nardin Freak is one of the 10 watches that have changed the face of watchmaking in the last 20 years.
The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV by Phillips took place in November 5th and 7th in 2021. The very first FREAK P001 prototype model was for sale at this auction event: Lot number 224, Estimate: CHF15,000 – 30,000 (€14,000-28,000/ $16,300-32,600).
The Ulysse Nardin “FREAK” prototype was the first watch ever to use silicium technology. It was a world premiere, the very first wristwatch anywhere – from any manufacture – to use silicium for its components. A memorable project originally designed by Carole Forestier Kasapi and implemented by genius watchmaker-cum-philosopher Ludwig Oeschlin – Ulysse Nardin’s technical director.
Over the past two decades, Ulysse Nardin has worked diligently to create engineering masterpieces while pushing the boundaries of traditional watchmaking. The FREAK has always been considered a “laboratory on the wrist” of the Swiss Maison, the entire collection dedicated primarily to showcasing the brand’s numerous innovations. FREAK has now become one of Ulysse Nardin’s strongest collections and the penultimate brand ambassador in the sphere of high-end timepieces.
Featuring a brand new dual direct escapement using silicium escapement wheels, the revolving movement is visible on the dial side, the gear train and escapement rotating once every hour doubling as the minutes hand. Ulysse Nardin’s dual direct escapement incorporates two escape wheels operating alternatively and giving two impulses per oscillation.
To obtain the best possible results, these escapement wheels needed to be as light as possible, thus the novel and groundbreaking use of silicium (which had the further advantage of not needing lubrication). The watch was further wound using the back bezel and time was set using the grooved top bezel.
This historically important FREAK prototype in pink gold was sold for CHF126, 000.
Facts and figures
- Manufacturer: Ulysse Nardin
- Year: Circa 2001
- Reference No: 016-88
- Case No: P001 Model
- Name: Freak Prototype N° 001
- Material: 18K pink gold
- Calibre: Manual, 32 jewels
- Bracelet/Strap: Alligator
- Clasp/Buckle: 18K pink gold Ulysse Nardin deployant clasp
- Dimensions: 44.5mm in diameter
- Signed: Dial and movement signed, case engraved P001 indicating prototype and buckle signed
- Auctioned price: 126’000 CHF