Doesn’t this remind you of the eighties? A do it yourself electronics kit, soldering wires to the circuit board and than the magic moment…. will it work or not? The photo however shows URWERK’s brand new concept and they call it the very first mechanical ‘smart’ watch movement. By adding an intelligent eye to the balance wheel, you’ll be able to measure how fast or slow your URWERK is running and adjust it go absolute precision.
The concept goes by the name EMC, which stands for Electro Mechanical Control, and its implementation is underway. “The challenge is now in the hands of URWERK’s designer, Martin Frei, and our engineers,” says Felix Baumgartner, URWERK’s master watchmaker and co-founder. “It is now a question of miniaturising all these elements to fit the size of a wristwatch. The EMC adventure is up and running – this is just the start of something big.”
Of course URWERK is well known for its experimental creations like the millinium-measuring UR-1001, dubbed Zeit Device, and our favorite, the UR-CC1 King Cobra. But this new development also has a relation with the URWERK 103 collection and that’s because the 103 has offered the opportunity to adjust the length of the balance spring, by means of a screw in the case. With the EMC they take it a step further, by adding an optical sensor on the balance wheel.
The balance wheel is made of ARCAP, a non-magnetic and anti-corrosisive alloy that has been used URWERK before. Mounted on top the the balance wheel, is an optical sensor that can capture the precise rate of oscillation. The sensor is connected to a 16,000,000-hertz electronic oscillator that provides an extremely precise reference rate and an print circuit board that calculates the difference between the timing rate of the movement and that of the reference oscillator.
“The interaction between a mechanical watch and its owner is a theme that has always inspired us,” says FelixBaumgartner. “Designing a reliable and precise mechanical timepiece is the foundation of our work. We wanted to extend our ambition by creating a precision timepiece with a system whereby the owner can accurately calculate the timing rate of the movement so that it can be finely adjusted to the owner’s lifestyle and habits. That’s the idea of EMC, which we are currently perfecting in our atelier.”
“Our goal with EMC is to give the owner of the timepiece information that, until now, has been decipherable only by a watchmaker equipped with complex apparatus,” says Felix Baumgartner. “To achieve this, we thought long and hard, and then created an easily useable and readable mechanism from scratch.”
Philippe Dufour about URWERK’s new EMC: “During Baselworld 2013, I had the private privilege of discovering URWERK’s new EMC movement. I was speechless at the ideas, the creativity and the innovation required to realize such a project. The result is a truely brilliant invention: it is useful, fun and is very technical – all very much in the spirit of Urwerk.
I love the blend of mechanics and electronics. I tip my hat as an old-timer in the world of independent watchmakers. With inventiveness such as this, the future is assured and independent watchmaking has
great days ahead. Congratulations and well done to Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei.”
Regards, Philippe Dufour
The timing adjustment screw is accessible on the back of the watch, and enables very fine adjustments to the balance rate regulator by changing the active length of the balance spring.
Now it’s waiting until the final version is ready. We’re curious to see more of this project, and we’re also curious to hear your opinion. So please share your thoughts with us by posting a comment. Is this, an integration of mechanics and electronics, the future of high-end watchmaking?