If Ulysse Nardin’s Freak isn’t unconventional enough for you, this week the Le Locle-based watchmaker unveils a limited edition of the famed Freak that doubles-down on its dial-free carrousel-movement display with an even freakier pattern. Where earlier Ulysse Nardin Freak X models show the time atop a blue or black movement plate, the new Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle offers a hypnotic black and white movement plate.
Those with wartime nautical knowledge might recognize the pattern from a painting technique employed to camouflage British ships in World War I, and to a lesser extent in World War II. Called ‘dazzle camouflage,’ or ‘razzle dazzle’ or ‘dazzle painting,’ the pattern was one of many unusual warship patterns created to attract attention.
Drawing from its long history as a manufacturer of nautical timekeepers, Ulysse Nardin explains that the crossing lines are “meant to confuse the viewer and make it difficult to estimate the range, speed and direction of the ship, therefore misleading the enemy in regard to the ship’s course and resulting in the adversary making poor target firing decisions.”
To create the razzle-dazzle pattern on the Freak X, Ulysse Nardin’s artisans devised a new movement plate finish that combines three different dial-making techniques: lacquer, electroplating or galvanic treatment, and laser cutting. The resulting pattern is essentially a miniature optical illusion on your wrist.
Remember that since the Freak X has no traditional dial and no standard hands, its central bridge acts as a minute hand with one of the wheels indicating the hours. Thus, the entire movement plate turns once an hour to indicate the time. As it slowly rotates, the black and white lines create eye-catching patterns, ostensibly to dazzle the viewer.
Ulysse Nardin is making thirty Freak X Razzle Dazzle watches, each cased in titanium with a black DLC 43mm case and a black openwork rubber leather strap with “point de bride” stitches and rubber, or a white openwork calfskin leather strap with “point de bride” stitches. Price: $27,300.
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle
References: 2303-270LE-9A-RAZZLE/0A (black strap), 2303-270LE-9A-RAZZLE/0B (white strap)
Movement: Caliber UN-230, self-winding flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis, extra-large diameter silicium oscillator, super-light 3 Hz silicium balance wheel, extra-wide, with nickel flyweights and stabilizing micro-blades. Index & bridges with SuperLuminova, 72-hour power reserve.
Case: 43mm titanium with black DLC, sandblasted & satin finish, sapphire crystal back, 50-meters of water resistance.
Dial: Razzle Dazzle pattern (decorative plate).
Strap: Black openwork rubber leather strap with “point de bride” stitches and rubber or white openwork calfskin leather strap with “point de bride” stitches.
Price: $27,300 (30-piece limited edition).