Swiss watch manufacturer URWERK has finally landed the ultimate timepiece:
This latest creation of micro-mechanics from the UR-Special Projects Lab has a combination of Jumping Hours, Linear Minutes, Digital Minutes, and Digital Seconds for the first time in watchmaking displayed via an image conduit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀
You might be wondering where the crown is?
Take a closer look; the roller positioned horizontally in the middle of the case is the crown. Roll your thumb of this fluted cylinder for a new sensation to wind the UR-111C, and if you pull the side lever out of the case, the roller can be turned in either direction to set the time.
There has to be a strong bond with a mechanism that merges into your wrist: a machine becomes part of you and gives you information in return for energy. It’s an exchange. For this reason, we created a new interface with the watch. Instead of the conventional crown at the end of the stem, we conceived a roller integrated into the top of the case for a new sensation.
Baumgartner and Frei’s latest creation, the UR-111C, continues the company’s ground-breaking tradition of thinking outside of the box and introduces two more “firsts” to the watchmaking world: a barrel winding bar and fiber optic display. The watch’s minute track “was inspired by the linear speedometer displays in vintage cars,” says Baumgartner.
In the 1960’s, some Buicks and Pontiacs featured linear speedometers, as did Baumgartner’s own car. “I had an old Volvo that had a linear speedometer,” he says in an interview with Watchonista. “I’ve been thinking of making a watch with a linear display for 18 years,” he continued.
The 111-C marks an evolution of the UR-CC1 King Cobra, which also has a linear minute track.
The UR-111C is a limited edition of 50 pieces and features a winding barrel that sits prominently on the top of the case. The absence of a traditional winding crown “keeps a smooth feeling on the side of the case and is much more comfortable for the wearer,” says Baumgartner.
The grooved barrel is parallel to the winding stem and rolling it with your thumb is “a new sensation,” according to the brand. “The winding is the part generating the most pressure and the most energy going to the wheels,” says Baumgartner. “We had to create a transmission with tough parts,” including miniature gearing, complex articulations, and intermediate wheels.
Despite the energy challenges involving the winding mechanism, the watch has a power reserve of 48 hours. To set the watch, a hidden lever swings out from the side of the case, allowing the winding roller to be turned in either direction.
Not content to just incorporate one original innovation in the new timepiece, Baumgartner and Frei created another first by incorporating an image conduit with the help of a German optical manufacturer. There are two open worked seconds wheels weighing in at just 0.025 grams each. The seconds' numerals are mounted alternately on the wheels, with one indicating 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60, and the other marked with 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55. As the wheels turn, they appear alternately, brought into view by a dense cluster of precisely aligned optical fibers that make up the image conduit.
While URWERK’s watches are officially named with their model numbers, Baumgartner and his team have internal “nicknames for all of the watches,” he says.
The majority of the timepieces are named for animals. “Our watches are part of a zoo,” he jokes, “most of them give a feeling of a creature.” The names include Maltese Falcon, Hammerhead, Tarantula, T-rex and of course Cobra.
“When you look at our watches, you can get the feeling of a creature,” he says. “The side view of the Cobra looks like the animal is staring at you.” Baumgartner admits that URWERK is not the first brand to take inspiration from the animal kingdom, “Patek Philippe had a cobra watch in the 1950’s,” he says.
So, who takes care of these creatures when they need a little TLC?
After-sales service for a URWERK watch requires an expert watchmaker, who has to be specifically trained by URWERK. Apart from superficial fixes like replacing a strap, watches are sent to the brand’s Geneva headquarters. “We can turn a watch around in about four to six weeks,” says Baumgartner. “They go to the same watchmaker who made them,” he says. “Our collectors appreciate our personal touch.”
These babies are a bit pricey but, in the end, it's worth paying...
Sticker Price: CHF 130,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $130,000 USD— for either version.
HURRY NOW: Limited Edition of just 50 pieces. 25 in polished steel and 25 with a gunmetal finish.
If I were you I would have been at the store or probably on their website checking out of my basket. 😉
Image and Video Courtesy: URWERK