When talking about Swiss luxury watches, most people will immediately mention Rolex, Breitling, and Omega. Rarely does anyone talk about the recently sprung up force to be reckoned with, URWERK. This award winning company has been designing avant-garde timepieces since 1997 in Geneva, Switzerland that redefine luxury and innovation.
The name URWERK is a play on the word “Uhrwerk”, meaning clockwork. The company was started in 1995 by Felix and Thomas Baumgartner and Martin Frei.
Felix Baumgartner has a lifelong connection to the world of watchmaking. He grew up in the family of watchmakers and continued the family tradition by graduation from Solothurn Watchmaking School to become an independent watchmaker. Martin Frei, a son of an engineer and an artist, devoted his life to visual arts and filmmaking. When Baumgartner brothers and Frei met in 1995, it was a match made in watch heaven that resulted in the founding of URWERK.
URWERK boasts an impressive team of talented watchmakers, engineers, and artists who believe in “creative efficiency” and “efficient creativity” with a common goal of “homological excellence”. In the seventeen years of the company’s existence, URWERK watches earned a number of horologic and design awards. One of the most notable of which is the Best Design Award at the 2011 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.
URWERK timepieces look like one would imagine the future of modern watchmaking. Sleek and unusual design with a touch of avant-garde, these watches will definitely separate you from the crown of stuffy, old world, Swiss luxury. URWERK is modern, young, and sophisticated. Although these timepieces may not look like watches in the traditional sense of the word, they are becoming increasingly collectable with a pretty large following.
Some of the most notable and impressive URWERK models include:
This watch has no dial in the traditional sense of the word. The face is more reminiscent of a sports car’s instrument cluster or “satellites” that seemingly float inside the timepiece. There are no watch hands, the time is shown on the three “satellites” with the help of an orbital cross. These satellites attach to a cross structure inside the watch that engages a pin which rotates the disk 120° showing the next hour. Titanium is widely used throughout this timepiece to make the watch components lighter and more durable. The slanted sides of the satellites make it easy to read time without turning your wrist while driving.
The back of the timepiece was inspired by marine watches where least used functions were put on the caseback. UR-103 case back features a 43 hour power reserve indicator that looks like a fuel gage, two smaller dials that form a figure eight that display 15 minute and seconds chronograph functions. The back of the watch also has an adjustment screw that allows the user to adjust timing +/- 30 seconds.
Continuing with the tradition of satellite dial, this watch features hour markers on the right side of the display and three orbiting satellite complications. The “dial” has a day / night indicator on the upper half of the dial and “oil change” indicator on the lower half that tells the user when it is time to take the watch in for maintenance.
This series is the flagship of the URWERK collection. UR-202 is the first watch in the world with the winding rate regulated by compressed air through the help of miniature turbines. What sets this watch apart from the rest of the URWERK collection is the telescopic minute hands which precisely adjust their length to display proper time. UR – 202 is available in a number of precious metals to add even more luxury to this incredible work of art.
UR – 210
UR -210 is an incredibly communicative watch. This timepiece features a winding efficiency indicator which helps the wearer determine if the watch is being sufficiently powered by its automatic rotor or if it is consuming stored energy. This entirely new complication does not measure the mainspring tension, but instead measures the difference between energy consumed and energy replenished by the mainspring over the duration of two hours. This complication ultimately allows the wearer to control the power efficiency of their timepiece by adjusting the speed of the two miniature turbines on the back of the watch.
UR – 1001
In addition to the innovative satellite hours, this watch features a highly complex and visually stimulating revolving satellite calendar. This watch measures time in seconds, minutes, hours, time of the day, date, month, year, and all the way up to 1000 years. URWERK designed their watches to last for eternity and this watch, which was carved from a solid block of metal, will sure do the trick.
UR – CC1
This timepiece is reminiscent an instrument cluster on a retro American muscle car. This watch features linear time indications which function with the help of two revolving cylinders: one for the retrograde minute display, another for the jumping hour display. The upper window is a highly complex seconds display and a small window to the right displays the date.
URWERK watches are a new, modern take on Swiss luxury timepieces. These mechanical engineering inspired timepieces are just as much of a work of art as they are usable horological instruments. URWERK crafts their watches to last a millennia and it shows in every detail. All of the timepieces are available in precious metals and are outfitted with scratch resistant sapphire crystal. Although not cheap even when compared to other luxury Swiss watches, these timepieces are of exceptional quality, design, and are fairly rare.
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