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 collection, blending its quirky aesthetic with stunning craftsmanship.
First released in 2019, the UR-100 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.
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 turbine that is showcased behind the exhibition caseback.
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.
Limited to 22 pieces as supposed to the usual 25, this particular example was released in 2021 and is known as the UR-100 T-Rex. It comes in a pre-aged bronze case featuring a livery covered with a hobnail motif which, as the name suggests, is reminiscent of the Tyrannosaurus rex. The bronze case is also sandblasted and treated with a proprietary biochemical burnishing process making for one of the more unique UR100s on the market. Using the UR100 as a blank canvas for Urwerk to play around with, one of their unique traits is how the brand treats and uses texture to transform their watch, rather than relying on elementary changes of colour like many other brands.
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 very wearable 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.