Powered by the finest haute horlogerie, but designed like a machine from the future, Urwerk, founded by the Swiss watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and graphic designer Martin Frei completes two decades of watchmaking. Thanks to its idiom of developing new – both technically and visually – methods of displaying time Urwerk has created a lot of buzz among watch buyers. More so, because the watches are too limited, just 10 or 20 pieces, have kept potential buyers asking for more. Hiren Kumar Bose on the five Urwerk watches that are provocative and disdain the ordinary
The 35mm wide, 49.4mm long and 14.45 mm thick ladies watch features the brand’s signature satellite hours with three satellite hours wandering across the dial to create the most graphic of horological blooms. The steel cased, titanium crown 48-hour power reserve watch with moon phase in lapis lazuli and minute indication features a revised version of the hour satellite hours. Three satellite, each with four-hour numerals, sweep along the minute scale in an analogue and digital indication of time.
The fully interactive, EMC (Electro Mechanical Control) is the world’s first precision mechanical watch in which the timing can be both monitored and adjusted by the user to suit their lifestyle. The watch was honoured with both the “Mechanical exception” and “Innovation” prizes by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2014. The world’s first fully-integrated mechanical watch (43mm width x 51mm length x 15.8mm height) with built in ‘artificial intelligence’ changes in position and temperature, as well as shocks which can adversely affect the isochronisms (timing regularity) of a wristwatch. Thanks to EMC’s unique and pioneering monitoring unit, not only can the wearer obtain the precise timing rate on demand, they can then use that information to accurately adjust the precision of their watch to suit their own personal rhythm.
The UR-210’s patented revolving satellite complication with wandering hour and three-dimensional retrograde minute hand; features a world-first complication – a winding efficiency indicator that indicates winding efficiency over the last two hours. The titanium and steel-cased watch (43.8mmx53.6mmx17.8mm) doesn’t just measure a universal value in a completely original way but starts a real dialogue between the watch and its wearer. The winding efficiency selector is on the back of the watch.
The UR-1001 is a grand über complication both measuring and quantifying the era in its entirety, from a solitary second to astronomical millennia. Exuding force from a case seemingly carved from a block of solid metal, the UR-1001 (106mm x 62mm x 23mm) marks the passage of time in seconds, minutes, hours, day/night, date, month, years, 100 years and all of the way to a monumental 1,000 years. The UR-1001 Zeit Device houses a constellation of indications, which include orbiting satellites and a comet-like flying retrograde. Dials, springs, satellites, carrousels, retrograde spiral spring are all manufactured in-house by URWERK, as are most of the components in the Zeit Device’s complications and indications. Then indications include revolving satellite complication with wandering hours, retrograde minutes, revolving satellite calendar with months and dates, day/night indicator, power-reserve indicator, running seconds. On the back are the “Oil change” indicator (5 years), running-time indicator for 100 year, and linear running-time indicator for 1,000 years.
It took more than three years of research, development, production, and testing just to ensure that the rotation and instant fly-back of the large hour and minute cylinders is achieved without compromising accurate timekeeping in this watch. The indications include linear jumping hours, linear retrograde minutes, digital and linear seconds (world first) with Super-LumiNova® on markers. The white gold with caseback in titanium watch (18mmX53mm) has there are two horizontal indications displayed by two cylinders: one for the (jumping) hours, the other for the retrograde minutes. It brings fond reminiscent of the linear instrument panels found on some old American cars. Said Martin Frei about the watch: “Physicists tell us that time can be warped or stretched, and our daily experiences are with the circular cycles of the days, seasons and years. But I am also intrigued that time can be ordered, even straitjacketed, to flow in a linear direction – a straight line from the past, through the present, to the future.”