This summer, URWERK announced the final edition of the iconic UR-210. Luckily it didn’t take too long before the brand announced a successor of this staggering beauty, and to my relief, I can say it’s at least as good looking and stealthy as the marvellous UR-210. That successor was the new UR-220 Falcon Project, which came in a carbon clad case. Today, some five weeks after that first new UR-220, it’s time for another one. Another one in black, albeit in a slightly different shade of black… let’s have a closer look at the UR-220 All Black.
Of all URWERK’s creations, the UR-210 was the favourite among team MONO. Merging the complex mechanisms of the UR-201, UR-202 and UR-203, and their extending and retracting hour hand, with the brand’s ‘trademark’ satellite time indication, created an incredibly complex interpretation of the satellite hour indication. It’s sort of mind-boggling to see it ‘in action’ and you just want to keep looking.
That’s probably why the UR-210, in all its iterations, has always inspired us to use a lot of superlatives when describing it. Especially the steel version, which also came on a steel bracelet and was baptized the Full Metal Jacket, won us over resulting in this ravingly enthusiastic review. But the question arises whether the few crucial changes between the UR-210 and the new UR-220 could change our mind. During Geneva Watch Days, we had the opportunity to fiddle a bit with the new UR-220 Falcon Project and to be honest, I think it’s even better than the UR-210. Here’s why…
Height, thickness… things that matter.
The UR-210 had an automatic movement and that’s of course user friendly. Even when you like winding your manual-winding watch every morning – yes, many watch collectors enjoy this morning ritual – there’s such an ease of use to an automatic watch that is undeniable. But there’s something else. An automatic watch, or actually its movement, is wound by a winding mass and a set of gears, a clutch, pins and springs, so you don’t have to do this operation manually. But all this takes up space, which translates into a thicker movement that has to fit inside the watch case. Now that new UR-220 comes with a manually wound movement, the lack of a winding mechanism immediately reduces the watch’s thickness from a pretty hefty 17.8mm (UR-210) to a very acceptable 14.8mm. And that makes a whole of a difference on the wrist!
Dimensions and weight
The case shape and proportions, besides the thickness, have not changed at all. This means it still measures 43.8mm wide and 53.6mm from top to bottom. The case is made from titanium and steel and only differs from the carbon version in the material used and weight. The carbon version weighs 25% less than the new All Black version with its titanium and steel case. The use of steel instead of carbon adds just a bit more heft on the wrist and it’s a different shade of black; for the rest, these two are similar.
“The UR-220 is above all a natural progression from our UR-210 model,” explains Martin Frei, the designer of URWERK’s watches and co-founder of the company. “It meant the death of the UR-210 so that it could be resurrected in a new guise. The differences are subtle but noticeable to the practised eye.”
Instrument panel and more
The UR-20X models featured turbines, which were visible through sapphire apertures in the caseback. The UR-210 featured a selector for adjusting how the watch winds: no winding, medium winding or optimal winding. This feature was meant to protect the movement during the various activity levels of the person wearing the watch. All very futuristic features. On the new UR-220, these functions are gone… But another, maybe even more useful function has resurfaced! And that’s URWERK’s oil change indicator!
Originally introduced in the UR-110 models, this function has been improved over time. This indicator tells you how long the movement has been running and when it is time to refresh the oils. It displays the number of months the movement has been running on two side-by-side rollers. When you buy the watch, the count is activated by removing a locking pin and pressing the button on the back of the watch. When the rollers show that the movement has been running for 39 months, it’s time to have the watch serviced. And during service, the counter will be reset to zero and the locking pin will be replaced.
Felix Baumgartner, URWERK’s other co-founder puts the idea into context: “It’s more than just a numerical counter, but an additional connection with your watch. The oil change indicator is witness to the time your watch has spent on your wrist. It’s also a visible record of the energy you have put into the movement by winding it regularly.”
Despite the bold appearance of the UR-220 (and actually every URWERK) the attention to detail is incredible. This goes further than the use of ‘difficult’ alloys because they have better friction properties or better weight, and it goes further than just the looks of a watch. Martin Frei, the designer, designed a new typography for the hours and minutes, and, in my opinion, this again raises the UR-220 a notch higher than its predecessor. Now we’ve seen the All Black and the Carbon version, both in a different shade of black, I’m very curious to see how many more shades of black are imaginable.
More info at www.urwerk.com