Designed like a machine from the future, when Urwerk arrived twenty years back it created ripples looking at the representation of time with a completely fresh perspective. Ever since then it has won three GPHG awards which are no mean achievement. Felix Baumgartner, co-founder and master watchmaker, Urwerk spoke to Hiren Kumar Bose on what it entails to be different and become a trendsetter
Very unlike others, it’s really a playground of horology—the Urwerk creations. What is Urwerk really in your own words?
Urwerk translates our vision of Haute Horlogerie. I know my classics as my father used to renovate antique clocks. He taught me the history of chronometry and horological complications. This is a precious cultural background that I cherish but I just do not want to keep on repeating the past. At Urwerk since the very beginning, we’ve been striving to develop new ways to show time, explore a new path. That’s our originality, our signature.
In so short a time Urwerk has won three GHPG awards. How does it feel?
It feels really good. For a decade, we were considered as outsiders because we did not follow the rules. We were stubborn enough to fight for our ideas. So these awards have a special taste for us. They mean that our work is being considered and appreciated.
Tell us how this association–Felix and Martin–happen. And how does it keep going bringing out crazy creations which watch lovers lap up?
I met Martin via my cousin who was studying in the same art school. We really had a chance to talk together and bonded well during a New Year eve party. We shared a few beers, talked about our respective passion and watchmaking was one we shared. We started talking more and more seriously about having our own brand. I was like 22 then. My dream was coming true. It was the best start possible. Martin works part-time for Urwerk and the rest he spends drawing, sculpting and putting together artistic performances. This is this originality, this freshness, this freedom that makes Urwerk what it is.
We have witnessed various iterations of the satellite system. Do we see more variations of it in your forthcoming creations?
We do not want to limit ourselves. So yes, you are going to see new satellite system but we are also working on a few cool surprises.
Do take us through the Laurent Ferrier Urwerk creation for the 2017 Only Watch?
We met by chance during a horological exhibition. We were both taking a break and were hiding from the crowd. I knew his creations but had never met him in person. It was such a cool moment that we continued to hang out even when we were back in Geneva. He is a very passionate person. We talked about cars, speed and eventually about our creations. The idea of cooperation came soon; it was natural and felt we had to do it. The best thing is that all this will help children fight against a terrible disease.
Can you elaborate on the typical Urwerk buyer?
He is curious, he wants to stand out. He does not follow the flow but is a trendsetter.
Which countries have been more accepting of the Urwerk creations?
Singapore is certainly one of the most daring countries when it comes to watches. Here you can witness a true Haute Horlogerie culture and passion.
You were on a tour to Asia recently. Was it an exploratory tour to search for new markets?
We do not want to expand our production. We’ve been creating approximately 150 pieces a year and will like to keep it at that.
Do take us through your newest creation-UR-T8?
We made the UR-T8 to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We’ve been dreaming about it for a while now. It is a revolving satellite complication with 3 levers of complexity. You have rotating satellites for the hours mounted on a planetary gear placed on one of the biggest carrousels we ever have. It is also a transformable watch. You can unlock the case from its cradle, flip it over. Then the time is protected beneath a titanium shield. A kind of Reverso but in Urwerk style!