When you think URWERK, you immediately think Sci-Fi, space-crafts, ultra-modern design, sharp and bold shapes, unusual display of the time and haute-complication. Like them or not, you must admit that URWERK watches are anything but standard. They elicit strong emotions from us, one way or another. However, tradition and ancestral techniques are not words that you would usually associate with URWERK… Until the brand came out with this unchained watch, mixing century-old craftsmanship with its signature bold design. Presenting; the URWERK UR-210 Amadeus.
The URWERK UR-210 Amadeus is an outrageous watch. I say this with all due respect to its creators, Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, and I’m sure they won’t disagree with me on this statement. It’s bold, massive, heavy, razor-shaped, completely out of watchmaking standards, extremely present on the wrist and far from being discreet. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s no bad feelings here. The UR-210 Amadeus might be an ultra-statement watch, but it also demonstrates an extreme attention to detail, an incredible level of decoration and of hand-finishing, a stunning and unique display of the time, driven by a complex mechanical engine. This watch is full of contrasts, a sort of fusion between baroque and science-fiction… Like if Johann Sebastian Bach was the captain of the USS Enterprise.
The base: the URWERK UR-210S
At the base of this unique piece of horological art, there is a masterpiece – or at least a watch that we, at Monochrome, consider as such. For the story, Frank and I literally had to fight to decide who will be the one to review this watch, a situation that ended up in some shared wrist-time. Anyway, back on topic. This Amadeus version is a visual evolution of the URWERK UR-210S Full Metal Jacket, which doesn’t refer to Kubrick’s film but to the full metallic attire of the watch. This certainly was the most technical creation of Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, both in terms of design and technology. While the display (more on that topic later) is the same as all UR-210 editions (see the AlTIN or the Clou de Paris versions), the external armor – a voluntary reference to military tanks – is different, made entirely from stainless steel, bracelet included.
This gave the UR-210 a technical and monochromatic look, and at the same time, more steamlined – the bracelet is almost melded with the case – but also an even more modern, more sci-fi look. There is an abundance of metal on this watch, unusual shapes and unique proportions that create a proper horological UFO. This watch looks like nothing else on the market and this is exactly why it is such a success. Mechanically and display-wise, the UR-210 is far from standard. Based on a traditional automatic movement, the way time is indicated is highly complex yet intuitive to read.
Time is easier to read than what you think. Here, it is 8h55.
Centrally positioned is the fly-back minute hand. This hand moves from 0 to 60 over a 120 degree arc, and points to the actual minute. On its way from 0 to 60, it carries the hour digit, and as soon as it flies back to zero, it releases the hour digit and picks up the next digit when it starts at zero again. A very ingenious system rotates the three hour satellites, so the correct hour digit will always be facing up, and ready to be picked up by the fly-back hand. The fly-back minute hand, which also forms a frame for the hour satellites, is milled from solid aluminum and weighs just 0.302 grams. It is counter balanced by a weight, so it is balanced on its axis.
Also on the ‘dial’ are two indications on the two top corners: left is a winding efficiency indicator and to the right is the power reserve indicator. The winding efficiency indicator is something entirely unique to URWERK and allows the wearer to adjust the winding of his watch to his/her own level of activity. On the back is a selector which allows you to change between full winding capacity, reduced winding capacity and finally, to no winding at all.
The URWERK UR-210 Amadeus
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the brand (launched at Baselworld 1997), Frei and Baumgartner have decided to use one of their flagship models, the futuristic UR-210S, to create a provocative statement, based on a complete anachronism. For this retro-futuristic move, the UR-210 was transformed by the expert hands of a talented engraver, Florian Güllert. “The decoration is very post-Renaissance 17th-century, but on a determinedly contemporary structure,” comments Florian. “The swirling pattern of acanthus leaves is most suitable for this style, contrasting with the angular look of the watch. We have merged the case, the crown protection and the bracelet into one unit to create an exceptional piece. I was given the entire watch to work on and I took it over to produce a design in steel.”
The pièce de résistance of the URWERK UR-210 Amadeus is indeed this impressive engraving work, applied on most external parts of the watch – case, bracelet, crown protection – thus covering all visible facets of the watch when worn. The result must be considered from an artistic point of view, before any judgement can be made on the aesthetics. The work done to achieve these patterns is extremely impressive. The metal is chiseled, hammered, engraved, chased and is nothing like an industrially-made surface, which we are used to seeing in watchmaking. No satined or polished finishings here, the metal is rough, textured and feels brutal, contrasting with the delicacy of the acanthus leaves motifs.
This painstaking work took Florian Güllert more than 260 hours to complete. The most surprising side of this engraving work is how it manages to merge with the sharp lines and angular shapes of the futuristic UR-210. While highly surprising at first, the URWERK UR-210 Amadeus takes another dimension when worn, being subtler and more consistent than we initially expected. This decorum makes even more sense after Martin Frei explains it to you: “we have evolved a strikingly contemporary notion of indicating the time, yet it is based on a 17th-century concept (the Baroque era). I see the UR-210 Amadeus as a continuum rather than a contradiction.” The UR-210 has come full circle…
The URWERK UR-210 Amadeus is the kind of piece we like here, at Monochrome. Full of contrasts, yet extremely consistent, mechanically crazy, full of details, with an astonishing level of finishing, and completely unique on the market. Of course, some will simply hate it, which is totally understandable. This watch is bold, massive and as such, reserved for mature collectors – and it makes sense, as it will remain an extremely limited production (expect 3 to 5 watches), all being unique (each collector can customize the engravings done on the case). Priced at CHF 210,000 (ex. taxes). More details on urwerk.com.
Technical Specifications – URWERK UR-210 Amadeus
- Case: Width 43.8mm, length 53.6mm, thickness 17.8mm – stainless steel, full hand-engraved – grade 5 titanium caseback – sapphire crystal on the front – 30m water resistant
- Display: Patented revolving satellite complication with wandering hour and three-dimensional retrograde minute hand; power reserve indicator; patented winding efficiency indicator
- Movement: calibre UR-7.10 – 51 jewels, 39h power reserve with automatic winding, 4Hz frequency – Self-winding coupled to turbines and winding-efficiency selector
- Bracelet: stainless steel bracelet with folding buckle, fully hand-engraved
- Price: CHF 210,000 (ex. taxes)