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Ulysse Nardin Freak 28,800VpH Luxury Watch Review

www.thewatchbox.com This one's a high horology superstar. With too many innovations to list and a look that defies classification, the original Ulysse Nardin Freak may be the most aptly-named watch since the Rolex Submariner. For 2005, this 44.5mm white gold Ulysse Nardin Freak 28,800 VpH embodied a major overhaul of 2001's 42.5mm game-changer. When unpacking the singular features of the Freak, it's best to start with the obvious; the freaking movement is the *minute hand*. To be precise, it's a carrousel - and definitely not a tourbillon. The two often become confused since each mechanism aims to solve the fundamental problem of imprecision due to positional variation. Both mechanisms rotate the escapement to equalize gravitational effects on the escapement. But while the tourbillon draws power for the escapement AND its rotating carriage from the same drive train, the carrousel separates the two. Invented by the Dane Bahne Bonniksen [Tim: not in Germany- pardon my video blunder to this effect!] during the 1890s, the carrousel also boasts durability advantages over the traditional pocket watch tourbillon. When a carrousel is halted or slowed, the escapement remains unaffected and continues keeping time. This prevents the balance wheel from having to be stopped and restated in the process of setting the time. As a result, timing precision does not suffer during time-setting. Moreover, since the Freak's carrousel assembly serves as the minute hand for the watch, physically forcing a tourbillon gear train through the motion of setting the time (moving the "hand") would crash the escapement and destroy the watch. Ulysse Nardin's engineering team, led by Pierre Gygax, selected the carrousel as the mechanical brain of the Freak. If the carrousel is the brain of the Freak, the heart of the Freak and Freak 28,800 VpH is the Dual Ulysse Escapement. Two skeletonized silicium escapement wheels index the balance with zero lubrication and a physical minimum of friction. In 2001, the Freak represented the first-ever application of silicium in a (barely) serially-produced wristwatch. The silicium wheels are vivid blue components easily viewed within the carrousel using only the naked eye. Their creation was facilitated after years of Ulysse Nardin research into photolithography etching technology developed for the microchip industry. Additional unique elements of the Freak and Freak 28,800 VpH include mobile bezel and case back rings that replace the functions of a conventional crown. The bezel of both Freaks is used to set the watch; the Freak 28,800 VpH introduced a pull-tab at 6 o'clock that locks and unlocks the bezel's setting function. Each Freak 2 includes a ball bearing-mounted case back that serves to wind the mainspring, and sapphire windows in the rotating case back allow the user to gauge the stored energy of the seven-day power reserve. Important care and feeding notes apply for owners of the Ulysse Nardin Freak 28,800 VpH. As a manual wind watch, the Freak does require periodic user intervention to remain energized; there's no automatic winding system. More critical is the intentional lack of water resistance dictated by the many moving case elements. Like a traditional minute repeater whose slide actuator obviates the potential for a watertight seal, the Freak lacks even "splash resistance." The Ulysse Nardin Freak 28,800 VpH offered by thewatchbox.com has just returned from UN's factory service in LeLocle, Switzerland and is covered by the manufacturer's one-year warranty against mechanical defects. See this landmark Ulysse Nardin Freak 28,800 VpH with all original factory accessories in high-resolution images on www.thewatchbox.com. Video and content by Tim Mosso.