Ulysse Nardin’s latest incarnation of its highly acclaimed and award-winning Freak collection is the “neXt.” It features what the manufacturer calls “the pinnacle of a paradigm shift in mechanical watchmaking” – the new neXt flying oscillator. It is the result of 10 years of research, development and improvements in collaboration with Sigatec, a firm co-owned by Ulysse Nardin specialising in the production of silicium micro-components.
The Freak neXt’s new flying oscillator’s innovative 3D design, based on flexible mechanisms using the elasticity of silicium blades, does away with the central pivot as its centre, and is suspended in mid-air to create a virtual pivot point. Its 3D multi-layer construction, comprising four layers of blades and a solid layer that serves as a flywheel, eliminates the necessity for pivots and jewels. This translates to the total elimination of friction on the bearings, and therefore, the movement’s energy consumption.
The oscillator is made up of 32 silicium micro-blades measuring 16 micrometres in width and are connected to one another without contact with the mainplate, forming 16 triangles superimposed in the four parallel layers. It beats to a highly efficient frequency of 12 Hz while delivering a remarkable 70-hour power reserve. The frequency has been multiplied by three while at the same time increasing the power reserve by 30 per cent.
The Freak neXt features the Ulysse Anchor escapement that is based on the principle of flexible mechanisms using the elasticity of leaf springs. This constant escapement, made entirely of silicium, presents a circular frame with a fixed anchor at its centre that pivots without friction. It is held in the air by two tiny silicium leaves, perpendicular to one another, which are tensioned in order to bend and maintain them in a bistable state. The result is a positive energy balance during the angle of lift that maintains constant oscillations of the balance without being influenced by the variations of the engine torque.
It also features the self-winding “Grinder” system which is twice as efficient as conventional systems and is wound by the smallest of wrist movements. The oscillating weight is connected to a frame carrying four clicks or blades, which gives the self-winding system twice the angular stroke, and thus, resulting in considerably lower friction.
Freak neXt has three variants. A “white” variant featuring a white Superluminova bezel, white Superluminova shafts at the sides, as well as a white automatic winding support on the back of the watch. The rubber strap is also white with white stitching and dark blue “point-de-bride” stitches. This variant, however, was developed as a concept and is not available for sale. The two other variants are for sale. Of which, one is in Black titanium priced at EUR 65,000, and the other in either satin-brushed or polished rose gold priced at EUR 95,000.