URWERK is a brand that we do like here at Monochrome-Watches; strong design, innovative materials and striking horological content. During Monochrome’s last trip to Paris, we had the chance to wear two Urwerk timepieces: the UR-210 AlTIN and the UR-202 White Shark in steel on a bracelet. Laurent Picciotto welcomed us in his Parisian watch-Mekka called Chronopassion, and explained everything about the UR-210 AlTIN and the UR-202 White Shark.
The UR-210 is everything that URWERK represents, meaning that you will find all the DNA of Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei in a single timepiece. First, the case is made of AlTIN, a specific alloy of Titanium Aluminium Nitride. Then, the design. To be honest, it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The UR-210 looks like nothing else in the watchmaking world. It’s futuristic, clean but highly elaborated. Last but not least, the engine. Not only will you find the astonishing satellite complication to display the time, but also an indicator of the efficiency of winding during the past 2 hours. Frank already told us about this complication (see here) and it is properly amazing to look at.
More important, here is how it feels on the wrist. To be honest, I was quite amazed after putting the UR-210 on the wrist. The first time I saw the UR-210 on a press release, I was kind of suspicious about the material, with its “synthetic” look. I was wrong. In comparison with steel, AlTIN feels light. The surface is slightly textured, warm and somehow it feels soft. Nothing like ceramic or titanium for example. You can feel the quality while wearing it. Naturally the case’s finish is amazing, as it is always the case with URWERK.
How the watch works… There is actually only one “hand” to indicate the time and this hand comprises the hour indication and point towards the actual minutes. This is called the satellite complication. In the photo is points towards zero minutes and the hour numeral is ten. The time is exactly 10:00 o’clock.
The hours are printed on some sort of ‘cubes’ and there are 3 ‘arms’ with cubes. Every cube has 4 sides with a numeral. The three arms with cubes rotates around a central axis. However, the cubes with numerals also rotate around their own axis.
At the left side you can see number nine, which is not inside the “hand” anymore. This will rotate around the central axis, first towards the place where you can see number eight. And from there it will slowly move further towards the position where number ten is. The cube with number “8” on it will rotate a quarter rotation around its own axis, resulting in a different number that is visible. It will be number eleven.
As soon as the “hand” reaches the 60-minutes position, it releases the hour cube, and as a retrograde hand it moves back to zero and picks up a new hour cube.
Believe me, the show is amazing! The only regret is that it’s a slow moving complication, which would be more spectacular if it moved much faster.
The UR-210 is a big watch but it feels very comfortable once on the wrist. The lightweight material helps of course, and so does comfortable shape of the case. Of course, you cannot use it under your cuffs, but who wants to hide such a brilliant timepiece.
The back of these watches reveals a unique feature: a winding selector and that allows you to slow or stop the automatic winding rotor. Depending on your activity, you can select the winding strength of the rotor in one of three positions:
- Full (sitting on your sofa reading a book, the rotor will be more reactive and provides a smooth winding)
- Reduced (while having a more active occupation, the air turbine in the top right corner of the case-back creates resistance and slows down the rotor – you’ll notice that the UR-210 has two of theses turbines)
- Stop (if you plan to go for some jogging with your URWERK on the wrist, you can protect the movement and stop completely the rotor. The watch runs on power reserve)
On the dial side, you find a winding-efficiency indicator, which indicates the winding efficiency of the past 2 hours. It is in the top-left corner of the dial, and it goes from green to red. Do not confuse this with a power reserve indicator! This entirely new indication does not measure mainspring’s torque, but calculates the difference between the consumed and generated energy of the mainspring. When you are not active enough, the indicator will move toward the red zone, meaning that your watch consumes more energy than the rotor provides to the main spring. On the other hand, if you are moving energetically, the indicator is going in the green zone, showing that the rotor provides more power than the watch consumes.
Both sides of the watch are a real show: the front with the ballet of the satellite complication for the hours and the 3D retrograde hand for the minutes, and the back with the winding efficiency selector. An impressive timepiece.
UR-202 White Shark Stainless Steel bracelet
The UR-202 presented to us here, is a special version, available in 12 pieces only, at Chronopassion in Paris, the Hour Glass in Singapore and directly from Urwerk (see our first article here). The White Shark is (mainly) made in stainless steel, except for the titanium back and ARCAP dial (an antimagnetic alloy that is also used to built the Swatch Sistem51 movement). Usually it comes on a leather strap, however we were presented one on a steel bracelet, reinforcing the monochromatic look designed by Baumgartner and Frei. Once again, you will find here every part of the URWERK’s DNA but in a slightly different interpretation.
Of course the design is always very futuristic and technical. More luxurious you will say, maybe, due to the shiny finish of the case, a steel bracelet and a moon phase and day/night indicators on the dial? We agree, the UR-202 is more refined, more classical in design, although its far from the average. The White Shark is the naked version of the UR-202, with no other adornment than its technicality. The only touch of color shown on the dial is ONE red hour digit to identify the individual number of each piece. Invisible on the photo, but this is number 11/12.
How the watch works… The UR-202 uncovers its satellite complication in a slightly different interpretation. No retrograde hand here, however instead, you will discover 3 telescopic hands at the end of the hour cubes. These “spikes” are extracting and detracting, in order to perfectly align with the minute track at the bottom of the dial. While the cubes, as in the UR-210, indicate the hours, they also rotate on their own axis, so the correct hour is indicated when the cube arrive at the zero minute position. When coming to the end of the minute track, the telescoping “spike” is going back in the cube.
Once again, one regret concerning this complication: it moves slow. Maybe we are too much used to see some amazing watches with striking displays… No matter the speed issue, the work made by Frei and Baumgartner is impressive, both for the technical part or the finishing of the whole watch.
As clean as the design could be, the display remains highly complicated, with the three telescopic hour hands, extracting “spikes” from three orbiting and revolving hour satellites. The back of the UR-202 also includes the patented winding efficiency selector and several turbines to slow down the rotor whenever that is necessary, just like the UR-210.
On the wrist, the White Shark is a heavy timepiece. That’s mainly due to the stainless steel case and bracelet. However, the size remains wearable and comfortable. The watch feels ‘naturally’ on your wrist and is well balanced. Of course, considering the outstanding design and the finishing, it is a watch that you will probably carefully select for specific occasions. And that is actually exactly what we are looking for, with an URWERK on the wrist.
Many thanks to Laurent Picciotto and Catherine Olekhnovitch from Chronopassion in Paris!