Since releasing the original Freak, replica watch brand Ulysse Nardin has used the collection to push the boundaries of time display and use of materials. When the Freak X debuted a few years ago, the brand created what it called an “everyday Freak,” with a traditional crown and a lower price point. It recently added Freak X OPS to the Freak X series. I’ve always found this line interesting and was excited to use it myself.
As with all other Freak models, the distinction between the traditional dial, hands and movement is almost indistinguishable. Green luminous hour markers extend outward from a track with machined gear teeth and meet a slanted machined metal scale ring with minute markers. The time is displayed by “hands” extending from the movement itself, most of which can be seen from the front of the watch. The visible silicon escapement beats at 21,600 vph as the entire mechanism rotates over time. The assembly is located beneath the boxed sapphire crystal and consists of 405 parts. Despite the massive mass of this mechanism, the UN-230 in-house movement offers a 72-hour power reserve (helped by the self-winding rotor visible through the sapphire case back).
The hour indicators protrude from the center, while the one-hour orbital rotating tourbillon forms the balance of the minute hand. You might think that this complication would make reading the time difficult, and you’d be right. Although the green tips of the indicators have lume applied to them, they are still quite dark during the day, and the lume isn’t particularly bright either. The hour hand may also be obscured by the tourbillon at certain times of the day. I do think I’ll get used to it over a longer period of time, but this isn’t a tool watch. It is more like a piece of mechanical art that can tell time.
I do find this app to be nicer looking than a typical skeleton replica watch. It has an extreme sense of depth for a watch that’s not too thick, and I still found it sharper than many such watches. Plus, because it has a solid dial, there’s no arm hair amplification that often occurs in other dialless watches.
While I find reading the time inconvenient, I do find the Freak X OPS a pleasure to wear. The first thing you notice when you pick it up is how light it is. The outer shell (complete with numbered side panels) is made from the brand’s “Magma” carbon fiber. The watch’s tactical-looking green and black pattern (made from a mix of carbon and green resin) surrounds an internal titanium skeleton. The green nylon hook and loop strap further reduces weight and makes the watch more comfortable to wear. It’s very light but still has the feel of a solid build quality.
At 43mm wide and 13.88mm thick, the Freak X is no small watch. However, its dark color and feathery weight make it visually constricted. It feels like it wraps around the wrist rather than sitting on it.
Ulysse Nardin Freak X OPS is not cheap for most people. That being said, it’s priced lower than the original Freak but still offers a tourbillon, a visible movement, and a novel time display. I love watches right out of the box and unique colors and case materials, so I could immediately see the appeal of the Freak X OPS. While I wouldn’t consider this to be someone’s only watch, I find it to be a compelling alternative to more obviously sporty watches from more popular brands. It’s unique, but not as eye-catching as a Hublot.