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Urwerk UR-112 Bicolor Aggregat

Our first encounter with the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat model was in October 2021, a signature creation of extreme mechanical complexity and sleek design forged for the brand’s Special Projects collection. Equipped with jumping digital time displays, the streamlined black and grey titanium case of the first reference leans on design cues of the mythical Bugatti Atlantique. Today marks the launch of the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey, a second model bristling with curved, grooved, sculpted and flat steel and titanium surfaces with alternating matte sandblasted and gleaming polished finishings.

Described by the brand as a “wrist spacecraft,” the references to science fiction movies abound. Its gleaming surfaces are compared to Padme Amidala’s J-Type 327 from Star Wars; its grooved hull to the spaceship in Battlestar Galactica, and its large, eye-like windows to Archie, the Owlship from Watchmen.
Besides its formidable technicality, the mission of the new UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey is to showcase its top-quality finishings. The dimensions of the case – 42mm width x 51mm length x 16mm thickness – are identical to the earlier edition but crafted in steel and titanium. The upper part of the case, the grooved steel cover that opens vertically to reveal the digital seconds and the power reserve indicator, is mirror-polished on top with a bead-blasted edge. The central titanium body is treated to satin-brushed, sand-blasted and bead-blasted surfaces giving the watch a slightly grainy surface and more texture. As co-founder and head designer Martin Frei explains: “Like the pencil strokes that draw and refine the outlines of the watch on paper, the traces of machining on the titanium and steel render its creative process visible. It then takes all the magic and mastery of the craftsman’s hand to transcript this emotion in the finished product, which is bead-blasted, satin-brushed and polished. In the case of the UR-112, this was a particularly long and trying process, a real odyssey, which enabled us to convert the strength of the raw material into the refinement of the finished product.”
The Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat belongs to the brand’s Special Project line and marks a departure from some of the brand’s signature features. Replacing the brand’s famous wandering hours, the UR-112 displays jumping hours and minutes placed on prisms. The digital hour and minute indications are housed in two cylindrical sapphire crystal containers separated by the central seam, a position reminiscent of driver’s watches. Each indication relies on triangular-shaped prisms that move in sharp, precise jumps, almost like old airport split-flap (Solari) displays (without truncating the numerals). All the hour numerals and the minutes, which advance in 5-minute intervals, are engraved on the satin-brushed aluminium prisms and filled with Super-LumiNova that glows blue in the dark. However, since the minutes advance in five-minute increments, there is an additional trailing indicator to point to the precise minutes.
By pressing the two pushes on the sides of the case, the top cover pops up to reveal the power reserve indicator on the left – the only analogue display on the Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat – and the small seconds etched on a silicon disc that advances under a magnifying lens framed by a bright red anodised aluminium bridge.
To transmit the power required for the jumping hours, minutes and seconds, the UR-112 Aggregat relies on a long, thin rod known as a cardan shaft, spanning horizontally across the central area between the seconds and power reserve gauge. Although it is hidden by the seam, the transmission shaft has double gearing – one at each end – and transmits all the energy required through a complex set of cogs and gears.
Calibre UR-13.01 is an automatic movement with a Swiss lever-type escapement, a 4Hz/28,800vph frequency and a 48h power reserve for the jumping digital hours, minutes, trailing digital minutes, digital seconds and power reserve indicator. Like all Urwerk’s movements, the finishings are top-notch with circular graining, Côtes de Genève and polished screw heads.

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Urwerk UR-100V C52

Over the past several years, the claw-like asymmetrical form of the Urwerk UR-100V C52 series has become a canvas for the boutique haute horlogerie brand to explore new concepts for materials, colorways, and finishes. From the “Star Wars” galaxy to the primal scaly hides of dinosaurs, the UR-100 line’s wild stylistic inspirations have taken it in a variety of aesthetic directions, but for the brand’s latest release Urwerk reinterprets this audacious sci-fi styled platform in a subtler, more contemporary light. The new limited edition Urwerk UR-100V C52 takes a novel approach to the current carbon-cased watch trend, with a satisfyingly clean and purposeful ethos.
Urwerk’s new case construction concept for the Urwerk UR-100V C52 forms the backbone of this new release. Although both the 41mm-wide, 14mm-thick asymmetrical angular form and the carbon composite case material should be familiar to enthusiasts, Urwerk sets this new model apart with its fine details. Rather than the woven design or random mottled patterns usually associated with carbon composite cases, Urwerk uses a proprietary CTP carbon composite stacked in 52 micro-layers around a circular center (hence the C52 name) and bonded with epoxy polymer resin. The result of this exotic layered construction concept is the appearance of even, orderly concentric rings in shades of matte black and charcoal gray when viewed from above. This is a cleaner, more deliberate finish than most carbon case designs in images, with an almost organic feel that calls to mind the growth rings of a tree and contrasts intriguingly with the angular, industrial case form. This case, with its broad asymmetrical lugs, geometric lines, oversized 12 o’clock crown, and aggressive grooved accents at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock is a staple of Urwerk’s lineup, but the muted tones and clean matte finish of the carbon composite material drastically changes the character of this familiar form. Where brighter gold or stainless steel iterations of this design have come off as gleaming bits of futuristic sci-fi tech from the collection of Jean-Luc Picard, this darker, less adorned interpretation gives off a coolly purposeful, near-future military equipment feel in initial photos. This new material also allows the UR-100V C52’s case to weigh in at a mere 11 grams overall, which should make this design exceedingly comfortable on the wrist. As with previous iterations of this design, however, durability remains a weak point for the UR-100V C52, as Urwerk rates the watch for a subpar 30 meters of water resistance despite using a robust titanium caseback.
The slightly revised version of Urwerk’s satellite wandering hours display first seen in 2020’s UR-100V Iron makes its return for the dial of the Urwerk UR-100V C52 , and in keeping with the dark, muted look of the overall design the brand keeps its colorway simple here. At 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, the wide partial inner bezel tracks the distance of the Earth’s rotation and revolution around the sun, respectively, with a clean matte black finish and optic white scales. As a vibrant contrast, the engraved minutes scale at 6 o’clock is rendered in high-visibility neon green with a red highlight at the 60 mark. Likewise, the arrow-shaped hand at the end of each of the arms of the central Geneva cross assembly uses pure gloss white with a flaming red lume fill for easy legibility in images. The satellite wandering hours displays themselves use bold Arabic numerals in a matching neon green hue, keeping the overall design simple and cohesive. Urwerk mostly allows the mechanical complexity of its wandering hours complication to fade into the background visually, thanks to matte black finishing across most of the exposed movement elements. However, a handful of polished highlights give some sense of this design’s intricacy without detracting from legibility in images. Like previous iterations of the UR-100V, Urwerk powers the UR-100V C52 with its in-house UR 12.02 automatic movement. Beyond the UR 12.02’s striking signature orbital satellite hours gear train, this movement boasts Urwerk’s unique Windfänger planetary gear winding rotor, which uses a miniature turbine to reduce overall movement wear caused by overwinding. Performance for the UR 12.02 is solid if unspectacular, featuring a 48-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Urwerk pairs the watch with a semi-integrated textured strap in black rubber that continues the ridged pattern of the case sides around the wrist.

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Urwerk UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey

When URWERK released the UR-112 at the tail end of 2021, I was predictably in love. It was a completely new member of the URWERK fold, but here we had something totally new, yet still quintessentially URWERK. Now, the Swiss masters of the Avant-Garde have released the second iteration of the UR-112 with the new UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey.

For a brand that has created its identity around futuristic mechanical time-telling sculptures, the UR-112 Aggregat was something I was not expecting. It was so clinical and perfectly executed. There was no hint of the playfulness that we see in some of the brand’s other models, but I liked that. URWERK intended to make a statement, and it had done just that. Now that statement is made, the brand has shown another side of the UR-112’s personality. Where the previous UR-112 Aggregat was a dark and brooding character, the Odyssey is a flash of all things bright and metallic.

When I first saw pictures of the URWERK UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey, I spoke to a colleague who was having similar difficulty interpreting the watch. I use the term difficulty lightly, as the Odyssey’s personality was so starkly different from its predecessor. My colleague described the aesthetic as “50’s electric shavers”. Thankfully I understood what he was trying to say, as I interpreted it similarly, but hopefully articulated slightly better! Vintage futuristic.

It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite video games from the Fallout franchise, Fallout 3. For those not so familiar with the Fallout games, they are set in a post-apocalyptic world. The atompunk retrofuturistic setting is influenced by the post-war culture of the 1950s United States. The game franchise does a wonderful job at playfully exploring ideas of what a dystopian future may have looked like within the style boundaries of that era. How does that translate to the UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey? Where modern ideas of futurism are more industrial with matte and dark finishes, the Odyssey is defined by vintage expectations of our current future. Bright shining polished finishes lead the way among the other brushed and blasted surfaces in a beautiful shower of metal. It’s a glorious retrospective reincarnation of a visionary design.

Despite this quite different aesthetic, the UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey is still clearly a UR-112 at its core. It’s a harmonious member of the UR-112 family. Watchmaking is an art, and true art transcends singular classification. Imagine it this way; the original UR-112 is to the UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey what the minor key is to the major key in classical music. A complementary and harmonious opposite. Yin and Yang. Hot and cold. Yes and no.

So what are the fundamental changes? Where the original Aggregat was a titanium beast, the UR-112 Aggregat Odyssey uses both steel and titanium in its construction. As mentioned, the range of finishes is different, too, with the black and gunmetal PVD coatings eschewed in favor of the natural color of the metals. Aside from that, there are no real changes to the guts and spirit of the watch. Then again, why would there be? The intricate and technically impressive mechanized digital movement took so long to perfect that it needs no changes.

URWERK separates its automatic caliber UR-13.01 into two distinct sections, the head, and the body. The body of the movement sits inside a hunter-style case with a hinged hull. By pressing the twin pushers on either side of the case, the hull opens to reveal an analog power reserve (the only analog display on the entire watch) and an elaborate digital seconds counter. We find the hour and minute indicators at the head, connected to the body through a Cardan shaft. A complex set of gearing allows this axis to transmit all the energy required from the mainspring in the body to the display in the head.

The hours and minute counters use revolving triangular prisms made of blackened aluminum attached to flying carousels to tell the time digitally. URWERK achieves this through jumping increments. The numerals on each of the eight triangular prisms are engraved and filled with Super-LumiNova. Interestingly, the operation of the jumping hours display is driven by the advance of the minutes. At the 60th minute, the force accumulated during the previous 3600 seconds releases to change the time to the next hour.

Of the three-year design process it took to design and build the first UR-112 Aggregat, URWERK co-founder Martin Frei said: “Once again, we have let our guts speak for us in making a spaceship, a UFO that is a technical challenge. This UR-112 is pure madness in terms of the mechanics and the finishes. We will only be able to make a very limited number, and there may be just five of them, but this is sheer unadulterated watchmaking pleasure!”

With theUR-112 Aggregat Odyssey, URWERK shows us once again how it can reimagine and deliver very different characters on very distinct canvases. It’s hard to imagine the brand’s watches being as versatile as they are. But here we are, presented with yet another perfect example. Watches are different beings to each of us. Here I see a nostalgic connection to video games in my younger years. Watchmaking should always make you feel something, no matter how personal or obscure. Mission accomplished!

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Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture

URWERK is exploring the culture and perception of timekeeping through the ages with a new series based around its 100V.

The first watch in the UR-100V Time and Culture series is engraved with the motifs of the “Sun Stone” described as one of the “most emblematic works of Aztec art” which dates from 1479 and is housed in the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City.

The design depicts the Aztec Calendar, with the third circle representing the 20 days of the month, the fourth the 260 days of the year.

“This line is about history, cultures, our place beneath the stars, the research and observations that have been conducted around the world using the same sky above our heads as a source of knowledge. I am always fascinated to see that these unique observations, made thousands of kilometres away, have given birth to a universal language, that of time”, says URWERK co-founder Martin Frei. “We are therefore literally being treated to a journey through space-time. And to materialise such a journey, the UR-100V Time and Culture, combining indications expressed in minutes and kilometres, proved to be the ideal vehicle.”

The engraving is carried out using a milling cutter with a point measuring just 0.05mm, while the ridge lines of the motif are satin-brushed and the troughs are micro-sandblasted to highlight the relief of the engraving.

Singapore-based watch journalist Su Jia Xian, better known as SJX, approached URWERK with the idea for the series three years ago.

I always enjoyed history lessons at school, but most of the history taught in UK schools revolves around Britain. So, that’s the Romans and the Celts, the Saxons and the Norman Invasion, as well as the likes of Henry VIII. Of course, World War One and World War Two also received extensive coverage. The likes of ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, the Aztecs, and the Mayans, however, were left entirely untouched. Thankfully I had my trusty Horrible Histories books to cover that part. Now that my beloved URWERK has introduced the new and fantastic UR-100V Time and Culture I, I’m feeling ready to dive into “The Angry Aztecs” all over again!

That’s right, the UR-100V Time and Culture I is inspired by Aztec culture. It is also supposedly partly based on an idea from our friends over at SJX Watches. SJX suggested adding an extra dimension to the UR-100 by closing the top just like the first edition of the UR-103. It is not, however, a collaboration with SJX.

Upon a recent visit to the new URWERK atelier in Geneva (in what is supposedly the oldest building in the city!), the brand told me more about the Time and Culture collection. But let’s start at the very beginning. As you may or may not know, the UR-100V received its inspiration from an old clock. In fact, the original concept of the satellite hours complication was inspired by an old clock too. Interestingly, these clocks now reside in the URWERK atelier, and URWERK co-founder Felix Baumgartner’s father, Geri, restored them both. So you can see there’s a solid sentimental connection here. The clock that inspired the UR-100V, however, doesn’t tell the time… I know, how weird! After some in-depth research, Geri Baumgartner worked it out. He established that the clock measures the distance traveled through space by someone standing on the equator.

I’m not going to try and explain the concept in too much depth. Honestly, it’s more complicated than my mind can handle. But, our friends at Quill & Pad have a rather excellent article that helps explain it in more detail, so I’d suggest checking that out right here.

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Urwerk UR-220 Red Gold

Beyond the heavily modified base movements inside them, Urwerk’s otherworldly mechanical contraptions that appear to tell time only incidentally have always had more in common with something out of a sci-fi film than conventional watches. The bedrock feature of its watches is the wandering hours complication, which was first invented in the 17th century for a Vatican City clock. Though it was reinterpreted for the wrist in the early 1990s by Audemars Piguet as the Star Wheel, it was Urwerk that reinvented the complication for the 21st century with an almost celebratory architecture that displayed the hour satellite in all its three-dimensional glory. By combining the satellite cube display with a three-dimensional retrograde minute indicator, the UR-210 and 220 series arguably marked the pinnacle of a concept that became a brand.

After three editions spanning a mere two years, Urwerk is giving a curtain call to the UR-220. Characterized by a slimmer, sleeker case thanks to the manual-winding movement inside, the model was first unveiled in 2020 as the successor of the beloved UR-210. It was originally introduced in carbon, followed by an all-black titanium and steel version and then a second carbon version with luminous satellite cubes.

This makes the fourth and final Urwerk UR-220 Red Gold the only iteration in solid red gold. Due to its size and style, Urwerk timepieces tend to benefit from the use of lighter, more modern materials such as carbon or titanium. But a warm precious metal, with a pronounced concentrically brushed finish, does lend it an irresistible contrast. It is further paired with a white rubber strap, which gives it an unmatched presence while ensuring great comfort on the wrist.
Notably, as opposed to all the other red-gold watches from the brand, the bridge that frames the hour satellite has been gold plated to match the case in the Urwerk UR-220 Red Gold, which visually accentuates the motion of the three-dimensional proprietary carrousel system that came to define Urwerk.

The central carrousel comprises of three cubes with an hour numeral on each face. As time progresses, the cubes traverse the dial, slotting into a massive hollowed-out retrograde minute pointer to show the current hour. At the top of the hour, the minute hand makes a leap back to zero and surrounds the next hour cube. This is accomplished with the use of a ruby bearing system to ensure stability, a double star-shaped cam underneath that triggers a spring attached to the satellite frame, along with a large vertical cylindrical spring to generate sufficient tension to power the flyback. The minute hand is openworked and made of aluminum to minimise inertia and it is counterbalanced by a bronze weight, visible on the central axis.
Notably in the Urwerk UR-220 Red Gold, the 48-hour power reserve is charted across two gauges located at one and 11 o’clock. When the watch starts running, the indicator at 11 o’clock begins its journey backwards, and once it hits zero, the second indicator takes over.

A digital service indicator is also present on the reverse and activated by removing a protective pin, which sets in motion a counter displaying the number of months the watch has been running on two rollers, allowing the owner to keep track of the brand’s recommended 39-month service interval.

The base movement is still a heavily adapted Zenith Elite which has been rid of its automatic winding mechanism. As such, the watch is significantly slimmer, clocking in at 14.8mm versus the 17.8mm thickness of the UR-210.

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Urwerk UR-100V Full Black Titanium Jacket

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.”

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Urwerk UR-100V UltraViolet

Geneva Watch Days takes place in the Swiss cultural capital from Monday, August 29, to Thursday, September 1, 2022, so stay tuned to HODINKEE in the days ahead for detailed coverage of all the top releases, from brands such as Bulgari, MB&F, Oris, Urwerk, and many more.

Apioneer of modern, independent watchmaking since the late 1990s, Urwerk founders Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner have long used their unique, creative sensibilities to rebel against traditional conservative Swiss watchmaking norms. The result? Larger-than-life timepieces influenced by science fiction that can be easily recognized across a room and are typically priced over six figures.

Those brand-defining elements, however, were streamlined and overhauled in the fall of 2019, when Urwerk unveiled the first UR-100, a less technically complicated model that balanced its visual complexity with what most consider to be the brand’s most wearable case design to date. More importantly, its price tag of under $60,000 opened up a new entry point to the Urwerk universe. A solid dozen or so iterations down the road and close to three years later, we now have yet another version of the UR-100 to ponder.

The new UR-100V “UltraViolet” – announced today at the Geneva Watch Days exhibition in Switzerland – carries the same satellite-disc time display system Urwerk is known for inside the wearable UR-100 profile, but it’s now executed in a rich, royal shade of purple that provides an immediate visual impact.

Frei, Urwerk’s chief designer, says he was inspired to use this specific shade of purple on the UR-100V because violet is considered to be the color with the highest frequency of all those that make up the visual spectrum (being one step away from invisible ultraviolet, of course). “I am fascinated by the idea of creating a watch that celebrates this boundary, this tipping point, this transition from perceptible to imperceptible,” he said, in a release. “The UR-100V UltraViolet is about this exploration of the limits. Our UltraViolet conveys something mystical, it’s a hue that sits on the border of a dimension we call color.”

Another notable development inside this latest version of the UR-100V is a reworked movement. The new caliber 12.02 replaces the previous-gen caliber 12.01. The update, Urwerk explains, is mainly concerned with aesthetics. The hour markers on the central aluminum carousel have been adjusted to a slightly closer position to the minutes scale, to improve at-a-glance legibility. The carousel has also received a different decoration than most previous UR-100V editions, matching the case finish with an anodized, sanded, and shot-blasted exterior. Identical to the caliber 12.01, the new movement utilizes the same extra-efficient winding system that is controlled through a unique Windfänger airscrew placed on the bidirectional oscillating weight.

Despite the new hue and tweaked movement, the UR-100V “UltraViolet” maintains a similar price point to previous UR-100V references, arriving at precisely CHF 55,000. However, unlike previous UR-100 watches, the UR-100V “UltraViolet” will not be limited to a fixed number; it’s instead restricted solely by Urwerk’s production limitations.

Urwerk is incapable of doing anything in moderation – that’s one reason I like the brand so much. So it should be no surprise that when Urwerk hopped on the purple bandwagon, the result was anything but a simple color swap. Nearly every aspect of the UR-100V is now fully decked out in purple, highlighted by the violet DLC-coated titanium case that has been sand-blasted to achieve a matte, textured surface. The aluminum carousel is, of course, also newly rendered in a matte shade of purple, as are the three pyramids and multiple bridges that make up the time display.

Timekeeping on the UR-100V is indicated by the three numerical pyramids that gradually pass one-by-one over the minute track, visible in the lower portion of the dial (the time reads approximately 8:23 in the above image). But it’s what happens after each hand finishes indicating the time that makes the UR-100 so horologically – and astronomically – compelling. After an hour has passed, the hand that was actively displaying the time disappears under a large shield and a new hand starts at the zero marker to indicate the beginning of yet another hour.

The original hand reappears after a few moments in a small opening to indicate the first of two celestial complications: the distance the Earth rotates on its axis. Located between where nine and 11 o’clock would be on a traditional watch dial, this 20-minute scale highlights the 555 kilometers its wearer would travel in rotation if they were standing on the equator. While at the same time the original hand is undergoing this measurement, a third hand is also at work on the opposite side, near what would traditionally be the two o’clock position on the dial. This third hand calculates the distance the Earth has traveled along its orbit around the Sun, approximately 35,740 kilometers every 20 minutes.

I’ll admit to being a big fan of Urwerk’s creations, but the UR-100V series has never been my personal favorite. I think the use-case of the celestial complication here involves a certain level of fascination with space and astronomy that I personally do not have. The good thing is that I believe I’m relatively alone on that horological hill; my understanding is that pretty much all previous examples of Urwerk’s UR-100 series have sold out in minutes.

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Urwerk UR-120 AKA Spock

URWERK has added a new open-satellite design to its collection of unorthodox timekeepers, the UR-120 AKA Spock.

URWERK’s existing ‘satellite’ time displays feature rotating carousels of three arms, each tipped with four rotating hour numerals. Only one arm is ‘active’ at any one time, tracking against a 60-minute scale to display hour and minute, before the next arm moves into position to take over.
The UR-120’s new ‘open satellite’ system instead sees each arm tipped with two rotating cubes that display a numeral when side-by-side. When not being used for timekeeping the inactive displays separate, rotate on their own axis and then reform to change the numeral displayed before again being called upon to display the time. The whole movement is said to resemble the Vulcan salute from Star Trek, hence the Spock moniker.

“When we realized we were going to have to open the satellite, I was over the moon,” says Felix Baumgartner, URWERK’s co-founder and master watchmaker. “Our biggest challenge has always been to manage forces. At the exact moment of the salute, a lyre-shaped spring opens and then closes the satellite. Managing energy then and there is complex and very subtle. We need to manage the opening and the stud rotation. We ended up manufacturing the spring ourselves, in-house, because we had to go through so many trials while defining its geometry and thickness.”
TheUR-120 follows the now discontinued UR-110 and “furthers the codes” of that watch.

“The idea was to go in a thinner, smoother, more elegant direction,” Martin Frei, co-founder and URWERK’s Artistic Director. “To do that, we redesigned the entire satellite system. Each satellite is now made of two sub-elements to make it thinner, easier to read and to give it unprecedented fluidity.”

The watch – presented here in sandblasted steel – measures 44mm by 47mm with a depth of 15.8mm, while the case is constructed of interlocking upper and lower components, something Frei stated was inspired by the work of Gerald Genta, and articulated, spring-loaded lugs.