Urwerk is one of these contemporary independent brands that usually leaves an impression when you visit them to see their novelties. It’s not that they only show something new, or something outrageously good every time I visit them, but rather it’s how I feel after seeing their timepieces.
I’ll elaborate later on how I felt leaving my meeting with the brand at Baselworld 2019. They did not show me anything totally new, per se, but instead variations on existing models. However, the impression was still the same. Let’s take a closer look.
In what is perhaps Urwerk’s most iconic case and movement design, the UR-105 Maverick still includes some novel aspects worthy of discussion and attention. If you’ve been waiting to get a Urwerk this is perhaps the most interesting model to come in a while. It keeps the same Urwerk look and feel yet adds a few totally new details.
First, this UR-105 sports a new updated wandering satellite movement. According to Urwerk co-founder Felix Baumgartner:
“We re-examined the design and found ways to improve it. You can feel the result when you set the time — no friction, no clicks, just the waltz of the satellites”
The UR-105 CT variation has the “hunter-style” cover that you can open. One other interesting aspects of this watch is that the case is made of bronze which should make the watch unique for each customer as they wear it. Priced at CHF 67,000 and limited to a production of 22, this is the “entry-level” Urwerk. And it is nothing short of being a modern work of art on the wrist.
The Urwerk T8 is as strange as it is cool. It’s the largest watch from the collection at 60 mm x 48 mm x 20 mm. A big part of the watch’s appeal is the Reverso-like case which swivel to reveal the hidden side. So this means that like a Jaeger LeCoultre’s Reverso watch, the Urwerk T8 has two distinct dials.
One shows the movement, which in classic Urwerk is a satellite complication showing the wandering rotating hours and minutes pointer. And the other side? Well that’s where it becomes interesting. For this occasion, Urwerk showed me two limited editions in partnership with two different artists.
First, is one showcasing the artistic engraving talent of Johnny Dowell. Working in collaboration with Revolution magazine founder, and noted watch collector, Wei Koh, they created a skull engraving on bronze. The result is definitely unique in its look and powerful in its style. It’s not for everyone. And it is limited at five hand-created exemplars with a price tag of CHF 144,000.
Second is perhaps the most surprising model. It is the brainchild of Emmanuel Esposito, a noted custom knife artist. Using well selected diamond-shaped mother-of-pearl scales and arranging them in a pattern to best gradually reflect light, the result is a unique watch that when flipped over will reveal the master piece hidden herein.
And to make it even more interesting, this piece unique, named “Colibri”, also includes a matching unique knife. The same attention to details you’d expect from Urwerk and anyone adorning one of these watches is also paid to the accompanying object.
Finished with a similar mother-of-pearl scale pattern, the hinge of the knife even includes a sapphire glass to showcase the articulating gear which is designed to easily lock and unlock like you can flip open and close the case of the T8. No price was revealed for the sold-out unique watch and knife combo.
UR-111C Black Cobra
How does one describe a watch that seems to be from the future? The UR-111C is one such watch. Nothing about it is conventional and it feel so at home on the wrist (at least on mine) that I’d swear they made it just for me. Let’s try to understand its various parts.
First thing you notice are the colors. The deep black case and the front cylinder with orange indicators and markings that border on red. The hour is shown digitally on one end of the cylinder and the minutes on the other. The cylinder itself rotates to also show the minutes in circular repeating fashion.
For the seconds you have to look for the aperture on the flat top part of the case. They are projected using fiber optics which makes for an intriguing conversation feature. Just below this is another rotating cylinder, this time, it is one the owner can activate to wind the watch. But how do you set the time on this no-crown watch?
Well, Urwerk could not make this straight forward on this overall simple, yet complicated watch. You flip a lever on the right side of the case and that same rotating cylinder in the middle of the case will let you set the time.
With 48 hours of power reserve, this self-winding watch makes for not only a unique watch and conversation, it also is stylish, modern, and futuristic. Limited to 25 pieces, this is not for the non-Tony Stark amongst us, as it will set you back a cool CHF 130,000.
As you can see none of the models that Urwerk showed me were particularly new. They were all variations or different take on an existing model. So why did they stir any emotion in me? Typically if a brand did that, I would leave thinking that they had nothing new to show. Well for me it’s two important things that Urwerk does right.
First, their variations are meant to accelerate and increase the boldness of the piece. For instance, using Emmanuel Esposito‘s unique skills at creating custom unique blades and meticulously decorating with mother-of-pearl scales, Urwerk is tapping into that bold style and niche group of blade collectors.
For the other model, they created a skull engraving that is almost tattoo-like on the large surface area of the UR-T8. It’s perfect for the Harley Davidson riding “tough guy”. Same goes with the appropriately named UR-105 Maverick in bronze. The unique engraving with material that will age and acquire its unique style show that Urwerk is tapping into their base with what they want.
Finally, my favorite model of the bunch is the UR-111C black Cobra—a blackout version of UR-111 titanium released earlier. This is a watch I could see myself wearing everyday. Perfect combination of style, bold design, and futuristic thinking. Urwerk previous UR-111 models are not different but this one tops it in my book. It makes me want to dust off my black boots, black leather jacket, and black jeans to complete the look.
So Urwerk manages to impress without releasing anything fully new because they double down on what is already great with their timepieces. They know their style, they know their audience, and are confident to give them more of that they want. Because, after all, spending the kind of money you need to spend to get an Urwerk, you better feel great in your skin and know who you are and what exactly your style is. Urwerk does and that’s always a great thing. urwerk.com