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 traveled through space during its orbit of the sun and the distance we have traveled on earth as it rotates.
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 exhibition caseback. The interesting feature of this specially engineered turbine is that it is designed to minimize 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, the UR-100 Spacetime Iron is an avant-garde piece of horological design that calls back to the Urwerk timepieces of 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 stainless steel case that measures a not-too-large 49.7mm from lug to lug.
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.