As if a watch that's more or less inside-out and named "The Freak" weren't already attention-grabbing enough...how about one covered in an intentionally confusing pattern? The newest watch in Ulysse Nardin's historic Freak collection, called the Razzle Dazzle, features a mix of avant-guard design and exotic watchmaking that results in nothing if not a striking look — but there's a lot going on behind all the complexity that first meets the eye.
The Freak is historically significant not only for pioneering the use of silicon in watchmaking back in 2001, but for its influence on unconventional horology. With a movement that rotates to indicate the time, it might be difficult to tell at first exactly what's happening...or how the time is actually read.
At visual front and center, the escapement (with its oscillating balance wheel) is held in place by a bridge which itself turns and is shaped to indicate the minutes. Simultaneously, a similarly shaped wheel indicates the hours; there's no traditional dial to speak of. What you are looking at, rather, are all parts of the movement's construction.
It's these surfaces (movement plates) which host the black and white striped pattern that characterizes this version of the Freak X. Ulysse Nardin based this aesthetic on a pattern called "razzle dazzle" used on ships during World War I as camouflage; it was believed that interrupting lines and geometric shapes would result in visual trickery that would make the vessels' speed, direction and distance harder for enemy craft to estimate. It didn't prove an enduring solution, but sure made for some crazy-looking ships — and now, a watch as well.
All that history, design and engineering is visible at once in the 43mm titanium Freak X for your wearing pleasure. The watch's case back reveals the rotor that offers automatic winding.
This might seem like exotic watchmaking and a lot to take in, but the Freak X is in fact relatively affordable among the line of Freak watches introduced over the last two decades. We're not talking pocket change, but the Ulysse Nardin Freak X Razzle Dazzle offers a lot for $27,300 compared to watches in a similar price range.