For those who vist Monochrome-Watches regularly, you probably know that we have soft spot for independent watchmakers and timepieces that display the time in a different way, meaning without traditional hands and dials. One of our top favorite watches is, without any possible discussion, the URWERK UR-210, a piece that we extensively reviewed and filmed in a rather personal column, written by our editor in chief – for the full steel edition. It was certainly enthusiastic – and for very good reasons. This year, at Baselworld, the brand comes back with a new iteration, with a pattern that is usually reserved to highly classical watchmaking, the “Clou de Paris”… And believe or not, in the context of the URWERK UR-210 CP, it becomes very unusual and highly modern.
That’s the kind of watchmaker’s bench you’d like to see more often…
The URWERK UR-210 has always been out of this world, whatever the edition (Titanium, AlTIN or Full Metal Jacket). It’s even quite hard to qualify it as watch, by using the traditional definition and image we have of a timepiece. Everything in it is unusual, different, strange, bold, sometimes voluntarily outrageous… This is true for the design, for the materials used, for the display, for the treatment applied on the parts, for the colours chosen or for the complications (we dare you to find another watch with winding efficiency indicator and winding efficiency selector). Yes, once strapped on the wrist, the URWERK UR-210 is special. It is special for the feel, the look, the user-experience, because of the way to read time and it feels special for people around you, who, for a large majority, probably don’t understand what’s on your wrist. All these feelings are part of a unique experience, and we, at Monochrome, love it. But enough of digressions, let’s go back on the main subject; the URWERK UR-210 CP with Clou de Paris engraved case.
Basically, the URWERK UR-210 CP is a decorated edition of the UR-210 AlTIN – see here for details. It uses the same colour codes – a mix of black and bright yellow, a combination dear to the brand – and the same materials. The main difference comes from the pattern applied on the case and on several other parts of the watch; a pattern called in watchmaking “Clou de Paris“. This traditional pattern, which could be translated by Parisian spike or Parisian stud, is usually reserved to dials. It is a specific type of guilloché pattern with carved and intersecting lines, which create some small pyramids looking like the head of spikes. This technique is usually reserved to classical watches and to highly decorated dials, using engine-turned technique.
In the context of the URWERK UR-210 CP, the surprise comes from two factors. First, this pattern is not applied on a dial but directly on the case – very few watches show such decoration (think Patek Philippe Calatrava, in a completely different style). However we’re very far from the idea of a classical dress watch. When the Clou de Paris adds a traditional elegance to a watch, when applied on the dial, on the UR-210CP it creates an interesting, eclectic contrast. Because the pattern is applied on the case, because this case is extremely angular and bold, because the pattern comes in black metal and not on silver or gold, and because of the resemblance with the texture of the strap, this pattern creates a sort of continuity. The watch feels somehow more lively (in the way to reflects light differently than the normal flat case) and probably more mature, without being overloaded. And there’s also the feel under you fingers… A watch is not just visual but also tactile. This pattern also participates to the experience. Small detail: a squared pattern is also applied on the main retrograde hand, for a better integration with the overall look.
For the rest, the URWERK UR-210 CP Clou de Paris remains technically identical to the UR-210 AlTIN. The case, which measures 43.8mm in width and 53.6mm in length (not small but, in the metal, the watch is rather easy on the wrist) is a combination of titanium and AlTiN-treated steel. The black fabric strap, with its strong pattern, gives echo to the case. The entire movement is black coated and only enlighten by bright yellow accents. The beauty of the URWERK UR-210 lies in the display, which uses the signature satellite carousel – see the video we made to understand how to read the time on this watch. This watch, from the words of Felix Baumgartner (one of the two founders and master watchmaker), is the most evolved version of the satellite complication “In terms of the degree of evolution of the satellite carousel, I feel with the UR-210 that we have reached the pinnacle of what we can do with this complication“.
The principal feature of the URWERK UR-210 is a high-tech, oversized, three-dimensional retrograde minute hand. Its function is to enclose the hour satellite and indicate the time as it transverses the 0-to-60-minute scale. This one-hour journey through time, tracing an arc of 120°, is smooth and fluid. But all changes at the 59th minute, as a sharp “click” signals the return of the minute hand to its starting point, at 0. Meanwhile, the carrousel with the 3 hour satellites rotates and these satellites (sort of cubes), each with 4 numerals, rotates on themselves to indicate the right following numeral. A properly impressive display, based on everything except traditional hands but which remains extremely easy to read (look at the photo below, it is 3h46). The dial of the UR-210 also features two extra indications. One is easy – the power reserve indication located on the top right corner – the other one is simply unique in the world of watchmaking: an indication of the winding efficiency over the last two hours.
This unique indication does not measure the mainspring torque, however it calculates the difference between the consumed and generated energy of the mainspring. Thus, if your comfortably sitting on your sofa, reading a book, you won’t be moving a lot – therefore the rotor will not provide energy to the mainspring but the watch will continue to consume energy. On the other hand, when you’re walking energetically, the rotor will move a lot, and thus wind the main spring inside its barrel – and the watch will probably store more energy than it consumes. This indicator is linked to another signature feature of URWERK, the winding selector, located on the caseback – what the brand calls “dashboard”.
The selector allows you to choose between three positions; FULL (where the rotor is free to rotate, to be used to benefit from every single movement of the rotor to wind the watch, when you’re not very active); REDUCED (where the rotor is slowed-down by an air turbine compressor, which spins and creates internal resistance – based on air friction. To be used when you’re more active, to protect the watch from over-winding); STOP (where the rotor is simply disabled and the watch runs on its power reserve without automatic winding. To be used during strong activity, to protect the movement from wear). These three modes can be selected, depending on your activity.
Again, this URWERK UR-210 CP is extremely bold, completely unique in the way to display the time, in its complications or in its design. It’s an outrageous watch, probably “too-much” for many collectors and watch-lovers but it’s also why it’s so attractive. Relatively speaking, it remains a combination of strong design with traditional horology (the display and the complications are all based on mechanical solutions, using traditional watchmaking to be displayed). The technical feel has to be applauded but also the relative wearability. It’s not that hard to wear it in normal, daily conditions, at least if you feel like it. The new design of the case shows an even better integration to the entire concept and this Clou de Paris pattern is another demonstration of the implementation of traditions in independent, bold watchmaking. The price is on par with the result; 138,000 Swiss Francs (before taxes). More details about the URWERK UR-210 in our previous review and on the dedicated page at urwerk.com.
Specifications of the URWERK UR-210 CP
- Case: Width 43.8mm, length 53.6mm, thickness 17.8mm – Titanium and AlTiN-treated steel with Clou de Paris pattern – sapphire crystal on front – control panel on the caseback – 30m water resistant
- Movement: UR-7.10 – Automatic movement with in-house satellite complication – 39h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – hours via revolving carrousel, jumping retrograde minutes, power reserve, winding efficiency indicator, winding efficiency selector (on the back)
- Strap: Black fabric with blackened pin-buckle
- Non limited – 138,000 Swiss Francs (before taxes) – Reference UR-210 CP
More info at the URWERK website.