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Ulysse Nardin Reveals the Freak neXt Concept Watch

With a high-frequency "flying" oscillator.

Just months after Ulysse Nardin launched the entry-level “Freak-lite” at SIHH 2019, it has returned to the other extreme of watchmaking, providing a glimpse into its vision of watchmaking’s future with the intriguing Freak neXt concept watch. It’s essentially a followup to last year’s Freak Vision, the cutting edge flagship watch of the Freak range.

Made entirely of silicon, the neXt oscillator is “floats”, meaning it has no balance staff, and vibrates at high frequency. It’s made up of four stacked silicon wheels, each fitted with eight “micro-blades”. Each pair of blades form a triangle, so each wheel has four triangles within. Each vibrates on the same central axis, or a “virtual pivot point” according to Ulysse Nardin.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Next Watch 3

Their operation relies on the elasticity of silicon, meaning the blades flex and release with constant energy each time. And because silicon is lightweight and operates with zero friction (remember, no pivots), the neXt oscillator is highly efficient.

Not only is the oscillator silicon, but so are all the wheels of the going train. Also made entirely of silicon, the Ulysse Anchor Escapement also relies on the elasticity of silicon to operate as a constant force escapement.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Next Watch 6

The neXt oscillator runs at 12Hz, or 86,400 beats per hour, three times the frequency of a conventional balance wheel. The watch nonetheless has a 70 hour power reserve, a 30% increase over the preceding Freak model, due to the extreme energy efficiency of the oscillator, wheel train and escapement.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Next Watch 1

This video illustrates the neXt oscillator in action.

The third notable feature in the Freak neXt is the Grinder automatic winding system that uses a rotor connected to an outer frame with four winding clicks, increasing the efficiency of winding.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Next Watch 5

Unlike earlier Freak models that were clad in dark colours, the neXt is mostly white, accented with Super-Luminova on the bezel and also the baguette-shaped movement that forms the minute hand. The case is 45mm, and a mix of titanium and platinum.

Ulysse Nardin Freak Next Watch 2

The Freak neXt is a concept watch but expect its to make their way into production watches very soon. The Freak Innovation concept watch of 2017 took only a year to evolve into a production watch, so expect the same for the Freak neXt.


 

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Introducing the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver

With a sterling silver case.

Once the standard case material for inexpensive timepieces a century ago, just as pocket watches were evolving into wristwatches, sterling silver forms the watch case on the new Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver.

Style-wise the case is identical to Zenith’s standard pilot’s watches, measuring 45mm in diameter and fitted with an oversized onion-shaped crown. While the styling is inspired by early aviator’s watches of the 1930s, the material diverges from the theme as the vintage originals mostly had chrome-plated brass cases.

The sterling silver case has a fineness of 925, meaning it’s 92.5% silver by weight. The alloy is soft and prone to tarnishing from exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a black patina that’s actually silver sulfide. Sterling silver cases are often plated with noble metals like rhodium or gold (to create vermeil) to prevent tarnishing, but here the aging is part of the appeal.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver 3

To match the aviation theme of the watch, the dial has a stamped pattern inspired by the riveted aluminium bodies of vintage aircraft, finished with a randomly brushed surface.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver 4

Inside is the Elite 679, a workhorse in-house automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver

Price and availability

The Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver (ref. 05.2430.679.17.C902) is limited to 250 pieces, priced at US$7700, or S$11,900. It’ll be available starting April 2019.


 

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Aston Martin Introduces the DBS Superleggera TAG Heuer Edition Supercar

With a watch thrown in.

Co-branded watches between car- and watchmakers are dime a dozen, but TAG Heuer and Aston Martin have added a twist to the traditional oeuvre by releasing both a special edition car and timepiece as a package. Though TAG Heuer has long been involved in motorsport, the combination of a car that costs about US$300,000 in its base version and a watch that costs 2% of that feels mismatched.

Clad in all-black livery, the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera TAG Heuer Edition is based on the British carmaker’s top of the line V12 grand tourer and will go from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds. It’s named after Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, an Italian coachbuilder that constructed ultra-light bodies for Aston Martin in the 1960s (superleggera is Italian for “super light”).

Limited to just 50 examples, the DBS Superleggera is finished in “Monaco Black” paint, a dash of red on the tyres and brake callipers, and lots of carbon fibre. The TAG Heuer branding is relatively discreet, with the seat backs embroidered with the watchmaker’s logo.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera TAG Heuer Edition

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera TAG Heuer Edition 2

Included with the purchase of every car is its horological pairing, the DBS Edition Carrera Heuer 02. Styled just like the blacked-out grand tourer, the watch features a honeycomb cut-out dial inspired by the front grille of the DBS and the Aston Martin logo on the seconds register.

The case measures 45mm in diameter and is made of black-coated stainless steel with a carbon composite bezel and lugs. It has a “tri-compax” chronograph layout thanks to the in-house, integrated Heuer 02 movement. The calibre is self-winding with a 75-hour power reserve, and features both a vertical clutch and column wheel.

TAG Heuer Aston Martin DBS Edition Carrera Heuer 02 -3

The movement is visible through the sapphire case back, which has the DBS logo printed on its underside. The column wheel is painted in red as is standard for TAG Heuer, with a rose gold-plated rotor.

TAG Heuer Aston Martin DBS Edition Carrera Heuer 02

Price and Availability

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera TAG Heuer edition is priced at £295,000. In Singapore it costs S$1.25m before COE and taxes.


 

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