Urwerk is the creative brainchild of young watchmakers Felix and Thomas Baumgartner (Thomas left in 2004), alongside founding partner and industrial designer, Martin Frei. Felix Baumgartner first learnt about watchmaking in his father’s atelier, who restored historically significant clocks. He would later attend the prestigious watchmaking school in Solothurn and create complicated watches for independent maker Svend Andersen. The other half of Urwerk, Martin Frei, has a background in graphic and industrial design, complementing Felix’s watchmaking abilities.
This UR-100V is a variant of the UR-100 that most resembles a contemporary sportswatch. Also known as the “Titanium Jacket”, the watch is a lightweight, restrained piece that remains true to Urwerk’s aesthetics, given the distinctive wandering hours configuration. The tactility and feel of the watch is especially remarkable here, as the titanium material is light and allows it to sit comfortably on the wrist. Meanwhile, the black matte, sand-blasted surface of the case and bracelet lend the watch an industrial look.
The UR-100 offers a contemporary take on the wandering hours complication, with a skeletonised view of the mechanics and a futuristic design inspired by space exploration. It displays time thanks to three satellite discs, which rotate on a centre wheel, where the hour and minute hands are usually attached. The hours on the disks point to the minutes on a 120-degree sector, gliding over them over the course of an hour. The rotating ring turns 360 degrees, one full turn, in 3 hours.
It is believed that the wandering hours complication was first used on a night clock designed for Pope Alexander XII in 1656 by the Campani brothers, a well-known family of clockmakers in Rome. The insomniac pope requested the ability to read time in the dark, so an oil lamp was placed inside the clock case, illuminating the dial and allowing him to read the time through the open-worked numerals. The concept was briefly translated to pocket watches but was supplanted by the two-hand method of displaying time. It is either an improbable coincidence or an early source of inspiration that Baumgartner’s father was once involved in its restoration, at a time when his son would have been around the workshop.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Urwerk UR-100V will be subject to 20% VAT.