There’s one thing certain about Urwerk… It is a brand like no other. Whether we talk about design, displays or complications, Frei and Baumgartner (the two founders) clearly live on another planet. Even in the small circle of independent watchmakers, they are a breed apart… but that’s what makes them and their creations so fascinating. Portraying their signature futuristic design and satellite complication, the UR-100 is their latest baby, which we explored here. Today, a new version is presented with a dark grey colour scheme. Meet the Urwerk UR-100 GunMetal.
Everything started over 20 years ago, with the inaugural UR101/102 displaying time on an arc. Then came a series of watches, each one bolder than the next in terms of design, but also regarding how time was displayed. Satellites, wandering hours, cams, transporters, rotating cubes, telescopic hands and retrograde indications… Anything except traditional hands. This has become the brand’s hallmark. Frei and Baumgartner’s latest creation, the Urwerk UR-100, was presented in September 2019, as a less extravagant take (price and design-wise). Still, there was no way they were going to get rid of the brand’s emblematic satellite time display with orbital hour satellites.
On a Urwerk watch, you don’t consult the time with hands rotating around a circular dial. Time is displayed differently, by the mean of an arc, satellites, wandering hours and rotating indications. On the UR-100, we still find this concept. The minutes are indicated on the semi-circular arc right in front of you. The track runs from 0 to 60 and, while travelling on this arc, also holds in place the satellite for the current hour. When it reaches the 60-minute mark, the red tip performs a retrograde motion and in the meantime grabs the next hour satellite. Certainly unconventional… but easy to read and positioned straight in front of you when wearing the watch.
New to this Urwerk UR-100 are two additional complications, placed on each side of the dial. While not indicating an hour anymore, the carrousel follows its journey and displays original astronomical indications: distance travelled on Earth (at 10 o’clock) and distance travelled by Earth (at 2 o’clock). As Xavier mentioned in a previous article: “Basically, it uses the speed of Earth at the equator or the Earth’s orbital speed around the sun to display the distance travelled from these different perspectives in about 20 minutes. For instance, at the equator, the circumference of the Earth is 40,070 kilometres, and the day is 24-hours long so the speed is 1,670 kilometres/hour. That gives you the 555.55km travelled in about 20 minutes by the indicator at 10 o’clock. In a similar fashion, the indicator at 2 o’clock shows the distance Earth has travelled around the sun, a journey spanning some 35,740 km every 20 minutes.” Not very useful on a daily basis, but totally in line with the brand’s characteristic space-inspired designs. For more details on this, you can check out our video in the in-depth article here.
Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback offers an uncluttered view of the automatic calibre 12.01. And once again, it looks like no other watch. The drilled full rotor is regulated by a planetary flat turbine to minimize shocks to the rotor bearing and to reduce wear and tear. A traditional URWERK feature, the baseplates are in ARCAP, an alloy that does not contain iron and is not magnetic. The calibre 12.01 ticks at 28,800 vibrations per hour and its power reserve is 48 hours.
The design of the Urwerk UR-100 GunMetal (and all other editions of the UR-100) feels both very Urwerk and slightly more restrained than previous watches, like for instance the UR-111C or the UR-210. Not only does it have a “traditional” domed crystal on top with a round shape, but the case itself is less out-of-this-world… Still futuristic, still angular, but also more compact and easier to wear. It measures 41mm (width) x 49.7mm (height) x 14mm (thickness). Not a small watch per se, but not a behemoth either. In addition to that, the casebands are relatively thin and the fabric strap well integrated.
New this year is the Urwerk UR-100 GunMetal, a 25-piece limited edition. The main difference comes from the colour and finishing of the case. It is made of titanium and stainless steel, it is now entirely sandblasted (it was partially brushed and polished on the Iron version in steel) and has been coated in dark grey “GunMetal” PVD. In addition to that, the indications on the dial are now executed in neon green and the carrousel matches the case.
The new Urwerk UR-100 GunMetal will soon be available at retailers and priced, like the other editions, at CHF 48,000 (excl. taxes), making it the most “accessible” (relatively speaking, of course) Urwerk in the collection. More details at www.urwerk.com.