Blue Cruiser is the latest version of the Freak, a revolutionary watch introduced by Ulysse Nardin in 2001. Freak is a watch totally different from most, because most of the movement forms the minute hand, revolving around the case, with the balance, which is justifiably defined as a flying carrousel-tourbillon, in full view at the opposite end with respect to the minute pointer.
Below, the hour hand is on the rotating lower bridge, while the upper bridge, in the shape of a skeletonized anchor, shows the minutes. New in this version is the fact that the movement is entirely free floating. In previous versions it had a centre pin linked to the sapphire crystal to support the structure. As a result, this Blue Cruiser looks even better than previous models of the Freak. Hairspring and escapement are in silicon, which improves durability and reduces lubrication problems.
I think that it is remarkable how, back in 2001, Ulysse Nardin extended the radical innovation of this movement even further. There is no crown, and the time is adjusted using the rotating bezel, which can rotate in both directions. It is locked, so that there is no chance of accidentally changing the time: a small tab at 6 o’clock, bearing the name of the watch, is lifted to release bezel rotation. Likewise the rear bezel can be rotated to wind the watch. The sapphire caseback reveals the mainspring and enables you to check its power reserve – seven days – visually. It is a large watch at 45 millimetres diameter, very attractive with its deep dial in a white or rose gold case, mounted on a blue or brown alligator strap.
The Freak Blue Cruiser retails for CHF 89,000. It only exists in one version, 18 carat white gold.
The Freak Blue Cruiser has a sibling called Freak Cruiser available in rose gold and with a black movement. Here are a few photos.
In this last photo you can see the window that provides a view into the barrel where you can see how tightly the mainspring is wound. The watch is wound by rotating the caseback (as indicated by the words engraved onto the perimeter).