Almost vintage… Indeed, this phrase might be a bit provocative, however, consider that what you see here is a time-capsule, containing 20 years of history. That’s right, this year the forever young and creative brand URWERK is celebrating two decades of bold and unchained horological creations. So, well, vintage… Maybe not! Extremely collectible… Most definitely, as Christie’s Watches Online is now offering for sale three of the earliest URWERK watches, giving you the rare opportunity to get your hands on a piece of the independent scene’s history.
20 years ago, one young watchmaker – Felix Baumgartner – and one young designer – Martin Frei – decided to launch their own watch brand, which was revealed to the world at the AHCI booth during Baselworld 1997. Don’t be fooled by the small and quite obsolete look of these watches. Of course, they are far away from the daring looks of the brand’s more recent creations, such as the UR-T8 or the UR-210. However, back in the day, the first URWERK was a blast. The most surprising thing however, is that when you look at the details, these three watches that Christies Watches Online is offering for sale , actually have it all: the unique display, the non-compromised look, the Sci-Fi inspiration… These watches are the foundation, the roots of one of our favorite brands and a perfect testimony to the work achieved by these two respected gentlemen.
Finding one of these early URWERK watches, meaning the UR-101 or the UR-102, for auction is really not easy. Firstly, they were produced in small quantities. Secondly, we all know that auctioneers are more focused on selling vintage Pateks and Rolexes than young-timer watches from indie-watchmakers (more profitable maybe…) Thus, it was with pleasure that we discovered that Christie’s, through its Online Auction page, is now offering for sale not one but three “vintage / early” URWERK watches, including two UR-102 and the very first of them all, one UR-101.
The URWERK UR-101/40
The URWERK UR-101 was launched at Baselworld in 1997 and was the company’s first watch. The UR-101 was, design-wise, a complete surprise back in 1997. Its case is shaped like Han Solo’s space craft, the Millennium Falcon, from the movie Star Wars – you can already see here where the brand takes some of its inspiration, having always relied on Sci-Fi and space crafts for its watches. The display was also greatly innovative, with wandering hours running on a semi-circular minute track (a display inspired by 16th century Italian night-clocks made for the Pope). In fact, everything the brand is known for today is here, making this watch a must have in any collection focussed on independent watchmaking.
The URWERK UR-101/40 for sale here was produced in 1999 and came in a limited production of 500 pieces made in 18k white gold. This is number 7. The case, while in very decent condition, shows some slight marks, but nothing to worry about. It will be delivered with box and original certificate. URWERK will offer a free complete movement overhaul to the buyer. The watch is estimated at USD 8,000 – 12,000 and is current bid (at the time this article is published) is USD 7,000. A great opportunity to own a piece of history and a rare watch – listed here.
The URWERK UR-102
Just one year after their first watch, in 1998, Frei & Baumgartner introduced their second creation, the URWERK UR-102. Based on the same movement and display as the first watch – wandering hours on a semi-circular minute track – they redesigned the case, again inspired by space crafts, however this time no Sci-Fi but real life. The design of this model was inspired by the Soviet satellite Sputnik: a perfectly round case and surprising way to fix the strap, with 4 horns. Funny anecdote: these lugs are the same as Swatch watches…
The present URWERK UR-102 was produced in a very limited production run and this example is number 12. The 38mm case is stainless steel, with a blue track for the minutes and a matching strap. The case is in good condition with slight scratches and the movement is in working order at the time of cataloging and URWERK will offer a free complete movement overhaul to the buyer. The estimation for this UR-102 is USD 8,000 – 12,000 and current bid (at publishing time) is USD 7,000. Again, a great opportunity to buy a watch rarely seen on public sale. Listed here.
The URWERK UR-102 “Black Series”
Probably the rarest and boldest of the three watches listed here – in all honesty, one that I’ve never even seen in the metal before. Based on the same case, movement and display as the previous watch, URWERK decided to give the UR-102 the all black treatment, again a style that will re-surface later on more recent creations of the brand. This URWERK UR-102 “Black Series” is extremely rare, with only 10 pieces produced. The present example is number 6.
The present URWERK UR-102 “Black Series” is rather special in terms of materials, as the case is ceramicized, anodized aluminum with platinum case back – quite an unusual combination. The strap and the minute track are also done in black. The case is in good condition with light surface marks. The black coating is mostly in-tact and shows little signs of wear. The movement is in working order at the time of cataloging and URWERK will offer a free complete movement overhaul to the buyer. It comes with original box. The estimation for this UR-102 “Black Series” is USD 8,000 – 12,000 and current bid (at publishing time) is USD 7,500. Listed here.