When looking at the independent watchmaking scene, no two watchmaking companies could be more different than Laurent Ferrier and URWERK. One is the essence of classicism, of traditions and of high-end, hand-finished watchmaking. The other is the very definition of bold creativity, avant-garde display and futuristic design. Who could have imagined that one day, the two would collaborate in order to create a watch? But, as is the case with magnetic fields, opposites attract. And the result, which will be auctioned at Only Watch 2017, is a stunning unique piece made by Laurent Ferrier and URWERK, named the Arpal One.
This watch is neither a Laurent Ferrier watch nor an URWERK, yet the signatures of both firms appear on its back and, surprisingly, the DNA of each manufacture is clearly visible throughout. The existence of this unexpected watch defies logic because it is the joint effort of two watchmaking companies who could not be more different. Each bases its identity on opposite ends of watchmaking’s stylistic spectrum. On one side we have Laurent Ferrier, an ex-Patek employee, who has devoted his time to creating some of the most classic and traditional pieces you could imagine. On the other side is URWERK, a brand that is defined by its unique satellite complication and its sci-fi inspired designs. And, although suprising, the result of their efforts is a stunning piece, merging the design of Ferrier into URWERK’s incredibly modern approach of watchmaking.
Basically, the idea is simple: take the overall shape and movement of an URWERK UR-105 TA, give a pencil to Laurent Ferrier and let the magic appear. While the UR-105 is a modern watch, with a case shaped like a Star-Wars shield, the Laurent Ferrier / Urwerk collaboration piece Arpal One is designed with curves and elongated lines, and almost aerodynamical shapes. These fluid lines are inspired by Laurent’s passion for cars (remember that he raced at the 24h of Le Mans), and the watch “is like streamlined coachwork, fluid and without any affront to the eye.” The case, while sharing an overall resemblance with other URWERK creations – in terms of proportions and curvature – feels more aerial, more elongated, more classical in a way, without losing the modernity of URWERK. Laurent Ferrier has added to this watch his signature, by bringing elegance and refinement.
Such a design demanded a special material and the Laurent Ferrier / Urwerk Arpal One is crafted in an unexpectedly modern alloy: ARPAL+, which has been specifically developed for this unique watch. It consists of 75% precious metals and resists wear and scratches better than white gold or steel. Its colour never fades, nor does it oxidise. This alloy was first developed for the electronics industry where it is much appreciated for its strength and because it is easily worked. For this watch, this alloy has been entirely polished (something that can be seen on all LF watches), without any sharp angles. The crown, placed logically at 12, also shows a more curved shape.
On the other side is a movement and display, synonymous with URWERK. While the case is all about elegance and softness, the innards of the Laurent Ferrier / Urwerk Arpal One are textured, sharp and modern. The Arpal One is based on the wandering hours and satellite complication used in the UR-105. The time is shown by four satellites, each bearing three hour numerals, which successively sweep past the track of minutes. The satellites turn on a hidden carrousel, at the heart of the successive passage of the hours. The movement has automatic winding, with the signature double turbine to govern the winding. On this occasion, the display has been done in a more subtle monochromatic scheme.
Overall, this Laurent Ferrier / Urwerk Arpal One is the most refreshing surprise of Only Watch 2017 to date. Who could have imagined that these two firms, opposed on so many aspects of watchmaking, could have created such an elegant, modern and innovative watch?
Only Watch is a biennial fundraiser for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy – Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM). Organized under the patronage of HSH Albert II de Monaco, the 7th edition gathers a record 48 participants. Only Watch 2017 will be auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva in November 2017. For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com.
Technical Specifications – Laurent Ferrier X Urwerk Arpal One for Only Watch 2017
- Case: Width 40,9mm, length: 60,8mm, height: 20,7mm – Arpal+ alloy, polished – sapphire crystal on the dial side – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Self-winding UR5.03 governed by a double turbine – Satellite hours turned on Geneva crosses – 28,800v/h frequency – 48 hours power reserve – Wandering hours, minutes
- Strap: Sand-coloured leather, hand stitched with matching thread
- Piece Unique for Only Watch