Following the intense teamwork and understanding that developed between Laurent Ferrier and Urwerk’s dynamic duo – Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner – to create the Arpal One timepiece for the Only Watch Auction of 2017, the sale of the watch left them with an empty nest syndrome. To counter the blues they were experiencing, they decided to go for an encore and have created four signed watches named LR-UR 2, which, like the Arpal One, will “be sold for the benefit of medical research”. While the shape of the case and the movement are the same as the Arpal 1, the material of the case and finishes are light years apart. The only problem with these four watches is that their parents don’t want to give them a name because they “merely represent the lap of honour of an outstanding team.”
Polar opposites attract
When Laurent Ferrier and Urwerk teamed up to create the unique piece that was auctioned at Only Watch 2017, nobody could have imagined the outcome. The fusion of two staunchly independent spirits with radically different visions was, at the very least, a stylistic gamble. Traditional to the core with a love of refined minimalism, what was Laurent Ferrier going to propose to the leading exponent of avant-garde design and revolutionary time displays that define Urwerk?
What emerged was an object of sublime beauty combining Urwerk’s signature wandering hour satellite indication with the sensually curved aerodynamic case imagined by Laurent Ferrier. One of the most memorable watches at the Only Watch auction the Arpal One timepiece went under the hammer for CHF 100,000.
Laurent Ferrier’s sleek titanium case
Unlike the Arpal One, whose hi-tech case gleamed like a silver spaceship reflecting the light in all directions and drawing attention to its sensual curves, the cases of the new Laurent Ferrier x Urwerk LR-UR 2 are crafted in matte titanium. To achieve this integral matte effect on the case, the anthracite grey titanium was subject to sandblasting and shot-peening until the desired finish was acquired.
The mood it projects is radically different from the Arpal 1 giving it a darker, stealthier, more subtle personality. Laurent Ferrier’s passion for racing cars is evident once again in the streamlined body of the case. The accentuated curves and aerodynamic beauty of the case remind me of the Batmobile from Batman Returns. What is odd though is that the U-shaped crystal (now I can only see Batman’s silhouette!) protecting the dial stands out even more than it did in the Arpal 1 providing a dramatic window on Urwerk’s mesmerising movement.
A merry-go-round movement
Urwerk is renowned for its unconventional display of the time and watching the movement powering these new Laurent Ferrier x Urwerk LR-UR 2 is like peering down at a miniature merry-go-round. Similar to the movement inside the UR-105 family, but without the automatic turbine control, the four watches inspired by the Arpal One are fitted with Urwerk’s proprietary automatic calibre UR5.03, which in turn powers the brand’s trademark wandering hours indication.
The 12 hours are divided up into groups of three and placed at the end of four rotating arms. These arms sweep along a 60-minute scale giving the spectator an analogue and a digital reading of the time. The guilloché finish on the black satellite cover – made from a thermoplastic known as PEEK – is decorated with Urwerk’s characteristic armadillo spikes adding an edgy touch of neo-punkiness to the watch. In the case of the four new titanium models, the hours, minutes and markers are white and highlighted with Super-LumiNova with a touch of red at the 60-minute marker.
Each watch will retail for CHF 88,000 and funds from this sale will finance a specific programme associated with the Only Watch action. All purchase offers should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A draw will be held under the patronage of Luc Pettavino to determine the four lucky owners of the LAURENT FERRIER x URWERK watches in titanium.