URWERK can’t leave anyone indifferent. Since its debut in the 1990s, the indie brand created by Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner stands out with its radical, futuristic designs and its original way to portray time. The idea of wandering hours, like those on a sundial, is omnipresent. The stage was set from the very beginning with the creation of the UR101/102 (we will come back to these watches later) displaying time on an arc. Then came the satellite time indication with a host of creative and complex iterations… satellites, cams, transporters, rotating cubes, telescopic hands and retrograde indications. The story continues with the new URWERK UR-100 SpaceTime.
The new URWERK UR-100 SpaceTime features the brand’s emblematic satellite time display with orbital hour satellites. The red-tipped minute pointers on the hour satellites disappear after 60 minutes – replaced by the next hour – but reappear to display original astronomical indications: distance travelled on Earth (at 10 o’clock) and distance travelled by Earth (at 2 o’clock). It is a bit puzzling at first but you can watch our video (at the top of the article) and continue reading to make things clearer.
Basically, it uses the speed of Earth at the equator or the Earth’s orbital speed around the sun to display the distance travelled from these different perspectives in about 20 minutes. For instance, at the equator, the circumference of the Earth is 40,070 kilometres, and the day is 24-hours long so the speed is 1,670 kilometres/hour. That gives you the 555.55km travelled in about 20 minutes by the indicator at 10 o’clock. In a similar fashion, the indicator at 2 o’clock shows the distance Earth has travelled around the sun, a journey spanning some 35,740 km every 20 minutes.
Naturally, these additional ‘space-time’ indications won’t be of any practical use in everyday life (at least to me) but it’s more an invitation to dream that matches quite well URWERK’s space-age universe. And it looks technical and cool. Just as Martin Frei, chief designer and co-founder of URWERK, says: “For me, watches have a philosophical dimension. They are a physical and abstract reproduction of our situation on Earth, with the dial representing the equator, simultaneously in constant motion while seemingly stationary for us.”
Interestingly, these watches were inspired by a 19th-century pendulum clock offered to Felix Baumgartner by his father Gerry, a now-retired clock restorer. Made by Gustave Sandoz for the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, it featured a regulator-type display showing the distance of the Earth’s rotation at the equator on three different scales.
The URWERK UR-100 SpaceTime comes either in titanium and steel (UR-100 Iron) or in titanium and steel with black DLC (UR-100 Black). The name UR-100 itself is presented as some type of “back to the future” for the brand. In the late 1990s, URWERK presented the UR-101 and UR-102.
The UR-100 is inspired by some design elements of these early URWERK creations. In particular, the steel UFO bubbly dome of these historical models is reproduced here in sapphire crystal. At 41mm x 49.7mm x 14mm, the futuristic case has its crown at 12 o’clock. The video and pictures in this article will be better than words to get an idea of its complex 3D design and details.
Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback offers a superb view of the automatic calibre 12.01. And there again, it looks like no other watch. The drilled full rotor is regulated by a planetary flat turbine to minimize shocks to the rotor bearing and to reduce wear and tear. A traditional URWERK feature, the baseplates are in ARCAP, an alloy that does not contain iron and is not magnetic. The calibre 12.01 ticks at 28,800 vibrations per hour and its power reserve is 48 hours.
The URWERK UR-100 SpaceTime comes either on a black technical fabric strap or on a black alligator leather strap with pin buckle. It is available in two introductory limited editions of 25 pieces each. Price is set at CHF 48,000 (excl. taxes), making it the most “accessible” (relatively speaking, of course) URWERK in the collection.
For more information, please visit www.urwerk.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.