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 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 – the UR-100 ‘GunMetal’. Its case is crafted from a blend of titanium and stainless steel, and subsequently coated with a grey GunMetal PVD finish for a subdued and muted look. Additionally, the numerals and minutes track are coated with green and blue luminous material. The minute hand and the 60-minute marker, on the other hand (no pun intended), both feature vibrant red accents, adding a visual contrast to offset the muted and monochromatic appearance of the case.
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 Urwerk 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.
Limited to only 25 pieces worldwide, the UR-100 GunMetal is an avant-garde piece of horological design that calls back to the Urwerk timepieces of the old. With its domed sapphire crystal feeding into its heritage-inspired aesthetic, the UR-100's most compelling piece of design is its unconventional yet rather wearable 41mm case that measures a not-too-large 49.7mm from lug to lug.
Out of all the UR100 variants we've handled and offered on the site, the UR100 GunMetal stands out as possibly my favorite variant to date. The subdued color scheme of the GunMetal PVD-covered casing complements the luminous numerals and minutes track exceptionally well. It possesses a certain understated yet dynamic quality unlike the other variants, and I, personally, find this extremely captivating.