Baumgartner and Frei’s fascination with materials and experiments in watch aesthetics will never cease to amaze us. In over two decades since the inaugural UR-101 and UR-102, we have witnessed mechanical ingenuity and creativity of the most commendable level. They have demonstrated infinite development of the original idea, inspired by a 17th-century clock made by Italian brothers Giuseppe, Matteo and Pietro Campani, who, at the request of Pope Alexander VII, built a very practical clock with a wandering hours display. But there’s an exciting philosophy that goes into every Urwerk timepiece, and the constant search also distinguishes the brand better to understand the interaction between the watch and its wearer. We had our hands on the recently-unveiled UR-100V Magic T, a watch that is hard to part with; it’s a classic.
In 2019, Urwerk unveiled the UR-100 SpaceTime, a remarkable timepiece that paid homage to Baumgartner and Frei’s early creations featuring the iconic orbital hour satellites with minute pointers. The UR-100 SpaceTime also drew inspiration from a pendulum clock Baumgartner’s father, Geri Baumgartner, gifted to him. Crafted by Gustave Sandoz for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, the clock displayed the distance of the Earth’s rotation at the equator. The UR-100 SpaceTime incorporated this concept into its unique time display. As the red-arrow-tipped minute pointers on the hour satellites passed the 60-minute mark, they indicated the distance travelled on Earth and by Earth. The upper left indicator represented the distance in kilometres covered by Earth’s rotation on its axis at the equator and another indication revealed the distance Earth had travelled in its orbit around the Sun.
For Urwerk’s co-founders, these indications had tremendous philosophical meaning. Martin Frei, the chief designer, viewed watches as a representation of our situation on Earth, with the dial symbolising the equator in constant motion yet seemingly stationary for us. Felix Baumgartner, the master watchmaker, emphasised that watches capture the three dimensions of time, rotation, and orbit that govern our universe, yet the elusive notion of spacetime eludes our grasp.
The UR-100 collection first launched with two compelling editions: the UR-100 Iron, crafted from titanium and steel, and the UR-100 Black, featuring titanium and steel with black DLC coating. Building on this hit, Urwerk expanded the line to include the UR-100 Gold, GunMetal, and Electrum editions, each with a distinctive allure. The series further evolved in 2020 by introducing the UR-100V references, showcasing the automatic UR-12.02 movement. A comparison between the initial editions of the UR-100 and the UR-100V revealed noticeable changes. The hour numbers have been relocated from the centre of the satellite system closer to the minutes scale and the side of the satellite indicating the hours has been switched, signifying the evolution of the carousel mechanism. The significant improvement brought the hour hand aperture closer to the minute scale, enhancing the intuitive reading of time, with the hour pointing straight to the current minute.
Since 2020, several UR-100V iterations have been produced – in titanium, titanium with a violet DLC, carbon and bronze, reflecting Baumgartner and Frei’s fascination with materials and their different qualities and aesthetic impact. The recently unveiled UR-100V Magic T once again brings to our attention, you guessed it right, the magic of titanium, and it is a watch that projects a different feel from the earlier UR-100V Full Titanium Jacket with its distinct character and appeal.
With a 41mm titanium case, the UR-100V Magic T exudes a magnetic presence on the wrist, making you want to check it out every single moment. Its well-proportioned dimensions of 49.7mm from top to bottom and a thickness of 14mm, including the domed sapphire crystal, strike the perfect balance between size and comfort – it is, by far, one of the easiest Urwerk watches to wear, being barely larger than a Submariner. And titanium being lighter, it’s also a watch that you (could) almost forget once on the wrist.
The titanium two-position winding crown is recessed, sits within a hollow of the case, and is not protruding, so it is protected and plays to ergonomics. The attention to detail in the finishing of the titanium case is truly remarkable, featuring a shot-blasted texture that enhances the material’s aesthetic qualities. Shot blasting (not to be confused with sandblasting) is the process of propelling abrasive material with centrifugal or mechanical force. This meticulous finish creates an overwhelming effect interacting with ambient light, resulting in a mesmerising interplay of matte brilliance and reflections. The same level of exquisite finishing extends to the 32-link titanium bracelet, ensuring a seamless and harmonious design. And this makes quite a difference with the previous, darker and more matte FMJ.
Its refined interpretation of titanium finishing sets the UR-100V Magic T apart. It transcends the common perception of the material’s raw and rugged industrial aesthetic. Instead, this edition offers a delicate, luxurious texture, an intriguing colour palette, and a touch of magic that catches the eye. The monochromatic and muted appearance of the watch exudes classic elegance, which is a massive departure from the standard language used to describe Urwerk’s creations.
The time display of the UR-100V Magic T has also undergone enhancements to improve legibility and visual appeal. The dial now features a variety of textures and shades, providing better contrast and increased complexity. This thoughtful redesign makes it even easier to read the time while retaining the iconic wandering hours and satellites that Urwerk is known for. The dial of the UR-100V Magic T invites you to delve into its intricate details and appreciate the craftsmanship behind its captivating design and function literally for hours. Watch a satellite carrying the current hour gracefully moving along a curved track spanning 120 degrees. This track is marked from 0 to 60, allowing it to indicate the minutes until the next hour arrives. As the minute module reaches red-marked 60, it suddenly jumps back to align with the hour satellite, ready for the next hour. It’s an intriguing spectacle, to say the least. The indications are fully luminous and joyfully observed in the dark.
But remember, the UR-100 series goes beyond displaying time. It also incorporates two meaningful astronomical features. On the upper half of the dial, you’ll find a raised flange that showcases these indicators. In the upper left, there’s an inscription displaying the distance travelled on Earth: 555.55 km. It’s accompanied by the word “ROTAT,” denoting rotation. The scale is graduated to what looks like 100 km increments. On the right side of the flange, you’ll spot another inscription: 35,742 km. This represents the distance Earth travels, accompanied by the word “REVOL,” representing revolutions. In other words, it is all about the speed of the Earth at the equator and the Earth’s orbital velocity around the Sun, tied to a 20-minute interval.
The back of the watch allows a look at the machine-finished calibre 12.02, an automatic movement with 28,800vph frequency and 48h power reserve, with the drilled rotor and equipped with a profiled propeller-like Windfänger airscrew to moderate winding through minimising shocks and reduction of wear. The caseback bears appropriate markings.
Wearing the UR-100V Magic T is a pure delight. Its titanium case and bracelet offer a sense of lightness and comfort on the wrist, while the refined finishing commands attention from both the owner and – quite naturally – those around. This Urwerk timepiece effortlessly combines a classic feel with modern sophistication, resulting in a great watch that will make a lasting impression.
For more information about the brand and the UR-100V Magic T, please visit www.urwerk.com.