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A revolutionary “flying oscillator” from...
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A revolutionary “flying oscillator” from Ulysse Nardin

Monday, 15 April 2019
By The FHH Journal editors
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The FHH Journal editors

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2 min read

Ulysse Nardin’s Freak neXt concept watch is a showcase for the brand’s technology, not least flexible silicon blades. This prototype prefigures the next generation of Freak watches.

So what’s the latest from the depths of Ulysse Nardin’s new “laboratory on the wrist”? After 10 years of continued research, development and improvements in collaboration with Sigatec – a firm co-owned by Ulysse Nardin that specializes in the production of silicium micro-components – the Manufacture is now in a position to present what appears to be the pinnacle of a paradigm shift in mechanical watchmaking that began in 2015 with the Ulysse Anchor flying escapement: the new neXt flying oscillator.

Freak neXt © Ulysse Nardin
Freak neXt © Ulysse Nardin

First came Ulysse Nardin’s flying tourbillon and flying anchor escapement. Now, we present the flying oscillator! Toying with the limits of the physics of materials, the new Freak neXt flying oscillator presents an entirely innovative 3D design. Based on flexible mechanisms using the elasticity of silicium blades, a principle that is truly mastered by Ulysse Nardin, this oscillating regulating device does away with the central pivot, its center literally suspended in mid-air. The central idea of this regulating organ is to totally eliminate the axis of the balance wheel in order to create a virtual pivot point.

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This is a radical development that hugely improves the traditional principle of balance spring regulation introduced in the 17th century. The neXt flying oscillator, with its 3D multi-layer construction – four layers of blades and a solid layer that serves as a flywheel – is a highly significant technological development for watchmaking research. This new oscillator eliminates the necessity for pivots and jewels. The new Freak features a “suspended” beating heart that “levitates” without a balance-cock (balance bridge). The direct result of this system is none other than the total elimination of friction on the bearings, optimizing the global quality factor and therefore the movement’s energy consumption. The only remaining friction is with the air. No more – or very little – friction, no more contact, no more wear, no more oil. Made up of 32 silicium micro-blades measuring 16 micrometers in width, connected to one another without contact with the mainplate – forming 16 triangles superimposed in 4 parallel layers – the oscillator beats to a highly efficient frequency of 12 Hz, for a remarkable 70-hour power reserve. The frequency has been multiplied by 3 while at the same time increasing the power reserve by 30%.

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