The Urwerk UR-100V Full Black Titanium Jacket is a new creation from the prolific duo, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. This latest model perpetuates the brand’s love of wandering hours and minutes. Limited to 25 pieces, it is housed in a black DLC treated steel and titanium case, features a new movement and comes presented on a metal bracelet.
Most devotees of Haute Horlogerie will admit to being fond of independent watchmaking. These comparatively small companies, often fronted by their owners, are incredibly creative. Indeed, these small firms conceive highly original watches that the bigger brands can’t, or choose not to, make. These exceptional creations are often esoteric in nature, appealing to a comparatively small audience, but they dwell in micro segments that are large enough to make the independent sector profitable and vibrant, something that is very apparent at the moment.
Urwerk, owned and operated by Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, is definitely one of the golden children. Its watches blend breathtakingly original design codes, cutting-edge materials and the kind of sublime hand craftsmanship usually only associated with traditional Haute Horlogerie. The brand is probably best known for its models equipped with wandering hours and minutes. However, Urwerk’s repertoire extends to other types of timepieces, including its UR-Chronometry models which allow the wearer to regulate the movement easily. The UR-111C and its siblings display minutes on a rotating drum, as well as in digital form, and employ jumping hours to indicate the minutes in a succinct manner.
In 2019, Urwerk released its UR-100 SpaceTime. Once again, the watch was endowed with a wandering hours and minutes display, but this time it also showed two rather unusual functions. On the left side of the dial, an aperture revealed a red hand that indicated the Earth’s average speed of rotation on its axis at the equator, some 555km every 20 minutes. Positioned opposite, on the right side of the dial, was a similar type of indication. This displayed the distance travelled by the earth around the sun, again in 20 minutes. When orbiting the sun, the Earth travels 35,740km every 20 minutes.
Since the launch of the inaugural model which was offered in two variants at the time, the UR-100 Iron and UR-100 Black, the Maison has released additional versions of the UR-100 model. These latter references include the UR-100 Gold Edition, UR-100V Iron, UR-100V T-Rex, UR-100V ‘Blue Planet’ and UR-100V Time and Culture I.
Now, there is a new kid on the block, the Urwerk UR-100V Full Black Titanium Jacket. It shares much of the design codes of its forebears but its steel and titanium case is dressed in a sultry black DLC finish. Moreover, for the first time on the UR-100 model, the watch eschews a strap in favour of an ergonomically designed titanium bracelet featuring 32 black-treated sandblasted links.
I’ve always thought the dial of the UR-100 model was eminently legible, however, Baumgartner and Frei clearly thought there was room for improvement. In this instance, the former movement, the Calibre 12.01, has been supplanted by a new movement, the Calibre 12.02. This latest specification has allowed the firm to redesign the carousel, ‘bringing the hours closer to the minutes as they travel in succession along the 60-minute scale. The result is an easier and more intuitive reading of the time.’
A potential problem for many independent brands is that they procure very small quantities of components in contrast to the watch industry’s behemoths which purchase huge volumes of parts and, by default, enjoy greater economies of scale. Nevertheless, this has never deterred Urwerk from releasing several ‘animations’ each year. It dares to employ blue-sky thinking, conceiving some highly imaginative watches, making it one of the most fascinating companies in the watch industry.
Under the UR-100V’s dome, in addition to URWERK’s trademark satellite configuration of the wandering hours and minutes, the UR-100V Full Black Titanium Jacket brings your spin through space into sharp focus. When the minutes hand has completed its 60-minute journey, it reappears on a 20-minute scale of 555 kilometres. This is the distance you travel in 20 minutes if you are standing on the equator of our rotating planet. The opposite scale tracks your journey through space around the sun: 35,740km every 20 minutes.
In the display on the Urwerk UR-100V Full Black Titanium Jacket, time and distance are on a par, the hours and minutes in blue, and the kilometres in bright white. Watchmaker and URWERK’s co-founder, Felix Baumgartner, reveals that he got the idea from a clock given to him by his father, Geri, a noted restorer of antique clocks. “It was made by Gustave Sandoz for the Universal Exhibition of 1893. Instead of showing the time, it showed the distance travelled by a point on the equator.”