Founded in 1997 by Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, Urwerk is one of the independent watchmaking industry's most prolific brands with a sense of watchmaking that fuses the traditional with futuristic design and a somewhat novel appreciation for the very concept of time. As such, Urwerk's timepieces are outside of the ordinary regarding their mechanical operation and their aesthetic design. Representing the basis of their offerings is the UR-100 Spacetime collection, blending their quirky aesthetic with stunning craftsmanship.
First released in 2019, the UR-100 Spacetime collection features a pair of interesting astronomical complications that build upon its solar and celestial-inspired design origins while simultaneously pushing Urwerk's watchmaking credentials even further into the ether of Haute Horlogerie. As referenced by the collection's name, these complications are fundamentally tied to space. They are the distance the earth has travelled through space during its orbit of the sun and the distance we have travelled on earth as it rotates.
What we have on offer here today is a derivative variant of the UR-100 Spacetime – introducing the UR-100V “Blue Planet”. Its case is coated with a dark blue ceramic coating and the inner time-telling components are finished in a darker, metallic shade of the same colour. Additionally, the minute hand and the 60-minute markers are coloured bright green to provide some visual contrast to the deep dark blue tones.
Displayed at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, these two 20-minute sections of the dial mark out a 555.55km distance, and a 35,742km distance, with the three satellite hour markers jumping from the end of one to the start of the next every hour in a hypnotic display of exuberance that only a brand like Urkwerk could pull off, thanks to their Urwerk cal. 12.01, which features a planetary flat “Windfänger” turbine that is showcased behind the titanium exhibition caseback. The interesting feature of this specially engineered turbine is that it is designed to minimise shocks to the rotor bearing which can ultimately provide some relief in regular wear and tear. This is achieved by having the rotor’s rotational speed governed by a specially made wheel which is engaged at the perimeter of the movement itself, that way it can regulate the speed of the movement of the rotor to prevent it from rotating too vigorously. The cal. 12.01 also boasts a respectable 48-hour power reserve.
Many would assume that the “Blue Planet” is one of the more conservative variants of the other UR-100Vs we have seen so far, but I would beg to differ. In fact, this is one of my favourite types of watches. In some ways, it flies under the radar unlike the other variants and I personally love it that way. It is one of those watches that you have to see it in the metal to truly appreciate and admire its beauty. Aesthetically, the unique colour tones on this watch are nothing short of stunning, it gives off a very intriguing visual appeal under different shades of light and is also very reminiscent of its space theme.
What Urwerk has done with the UR-100 has been quite interesting, choosing to release variations on the watch in different materials in limited editions of usually 25 pieces. This is very much like what Roger Dubuis did in his day, releasing 28 pieces of each variant only.
With the appreciation of independent brands growing to an all-time high in recent times, Urwerk is certainly a brand to watch, creating watches that are both rare and truly unique.