It’s become a point of discussion within the watch collecting community of how many times, a watch brand will choose to announce an existing watch, in a new color and call it a new watch. What causes these discussions to often turn ugly is when a color that’s applied to an existing watch, doesn’t quite suit the watch in question. From first launch to offering the same timepiece in several other colors, how does any watch brand manage this thought process?
For the launch of their UR-100V “Blue Planet”, the sixth version of the UR-100 since its launch in 2019, master watchmaker, Felix Baumgartner and chief designer Martin Frei to address this very question.
“When I envision a [new] watch, normally I envision it in a plain steel [execution]. It’s kind of like the most neutral version. You can say black on the other hand has a similar aesthetics. That’s why I actually like these two colors; rather that they are not colors, they’re non colors. They reflect the world around,” begins Martin.
He adds, “When you have the neutral version of this watch finally in the flesh, and you are able to see how light reflects on it, that’s when I think it is possible for Felix and I to imagine what other colors or treatments could be applied to one of our watches. For URWERK, we have a palette of options, in terms of materials and how we treat the surfaces of these materials.”
Felix joins the conversation then to proclaim, “It’s not a difficult thing for Martin and I, we keep it quite organic, we discuss the fantasy realms of our watchmaking, share stories, conduct research and try out different things that we feel might work for the brand we’ve forged. It doesn’t happen too often for us, but from time to time, the stars align, and we find an approach that is of appeal to both our senses. We then commit to creating a series of the watch in question with this possibility in effect. We love how such an approach and the freedom that it allows, works for Martin and I.”
Says Martin, “It’s alchemy, it’s super pleasurable work, to try different materials on familiar designs. At times we find certain approaches not feasible, but it is during the process of the attempt that we discover new realms. Sometimes it feels like a game for us, but you know what we really enjoy this.”
“You know for the UR-100V “Blue Planet” all of the aspects of it that are in blue — shades of blue that Martin and I are both happy to share with the world on this watch — this didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken up almost a year now to get all of the colors just right for the watch,” sums up Felix.
The URWERK UR-100V “Blue Planet” gets its blue from a blue PVD-treated steel case with a titanium caseback and a blue PVD sandblasted steel crown. The blue within the movement of the watch is as well a PVD treatment, but as you can see, different shades of blue are applied from component to component, creating a great richness of depth across the timepiece. It’s no wonder the simple act of applying blue to the UR-100V has required the dynamic duo an entire year.