Regular readers of The Watch Lounge will no doubt be familiar with the name URWERK. The super high-end, independent watchmaker has featured regularly on the site and has been, and continues to be, one of our longest supporters. Their futuristic looking timepieces are instantly recognizable both by their distinctive style and inherent complexity, with each progressive model further pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity.
That being said, thanks to their highly limited production numbers (and equally high price tags – more on that later) it is not often you spot an URWERK in the wild, a fact that makes them just that much more desirable for serious collectors and aficionados alike. Thanks to an incredibly trusting Communications Manager however, I was fortunate enough to spend the last few weeks with a superb UR-110 ST strapped to my wrist as I went about my daily business in the bustling city of London. Here are my thoughts from the experience.
The UR-110 ST
I have previously dedicated several articles to discussing the technical complexity of the UR-110 (the most in-depth one can be read here) and so for this review I am going to focus on what it actually feels like to own and wear a circa CHF100,000 timepiece (albeit briefly.) For your reading convenience I am going to split the review into three broad areas; wearability, overall style and of course, the wow factor.
The first thing you notice about the UR-110 is the shape. It’s pretty much unlike any watch you’ve probably seen or worn before and this is compounded by the fact that it appears quite big and chunky. As incredibly cool as it looks though your eyes are telling you there’s no way that that is going to work on your wrist, you’re simply not man enough to pull it off. But then you strap it on and everything changes.
The perfect accompaniment for any meal © 2013 The Watch Lounge
It’s comfortable on the wrist, surprisingly so, and although you’ll never forget that it’s there it really is quite enjoyable to wear. I met quite a few sceptics during my time with the 110, suspicious of the size and presumed weight of the case but all bar none were converted as soon as they tried it on. The fact is, despite the slightly unusual look, this is actually a highly ergonomic design and one that makes reading the time easy without requiring you to twist your wrist too much. I’d even go as far to say that this was one of the most welcome surprises about the 110.
The model I was wearing was on a beautiful black leather strap and I found it best when I had the piece affixed nice and tightly to my wrist, so I can’t make any comment as to how it would feel on a bracelet but I imagine the experience would be much the same.
The 110 is as exotic looking as it is complex, and so expect it to attract more than its fair share of onlookers, especially in ST form with the striking black AlTiN finish. The most common questions I was asked were; “what’s that on your wrist?’, “how does it work?” and, “can I touch it?” That last question in particular may seem a little unusual but it is actually very much in-line with what URWERK’s Artistic Director, Martin Frei, had in mind when he created the ST variant with its deeply grooved case:
“A watch worn on a daily basis should be a source of pleasure – the primal pleasure of possession, naturally, but also the pleasure of the experience of it on the wrist,” he explains. “There is a quote I like from French poet and diplomat Paul Claudel: ‘Sculpture is the need to touch.’ I very much hope the UR-110 ST creates this need.”
From my personal experience the 110 certainly did elicit this type of response both from myself and others, but it’s not just the exterior that captures your attention. We talk a lot about dials with depth when reviewing watches here on the site but URWERK’s UR-110 takes this concept to a whole another level. This truly is a three-dimensional experience. I often found myself catching sight of my wrist and then simply stopping and staring, there is so much detail here that you really can’t help but get caught up. “Are you looking at your watch again?” became a common phrase in our house as my ever-patient wife found herself increasingly competing for my attention. I know it sounds corny but it’s true, this is genuinely one of those pieces that when you look at it, you can really appreciate all the incredible work and ingenuity that’s gone into making it possible.
Reading the time is a breeze thanks to URWERK’s clever design and clearly printed dials. Once you know how to read it properly it’s just like reading a digital display, and that unusually shaped case I was talking about earlier means that you can quickly and discreetly check the time without having to lift your jacket cuff all the way up. It sounds like a bit of marketing spin but in practice it’s actually surprisingly useful.
Obviously this is not a watch for all occasions, although I must say I was surprised at its versatility. I generally wore it with a suit and tie or sometimes more casually with a nice sweater but I wouldn’t expect this piece to become your daily wearer, it’s simply too distinctive looking. This is not a bad thing by any stretch but it just means that the 110 lends itself more to those special occasions when you really want to turn heads.
The Wow Factor
I think it’s pretty fair to say that the UR-110 has the ‘wow’ factor in spades. This is one seriously cool looking timepiece that has the brains to more than match its brawn. Wear it with just a shirt or a polo and stands out on your wrist for miles but simply slip a jacket on and it quietly disappears into the shadows, patiently waiting under your cuff to be called forth as and when needed.
This is not a piece for traditionalists by any stretch of the imagination but you will be surprised how quickly you become used to wearing it, so much so that it sometimes takes a few minutes to realize why people around you are desperately craning their necks to get a better view, their mouths gaping open in wonder and amazement (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but you get the idea.)
The fact is, if you want to stand out from the crowd but still wear something from a highly reputable, technically brilliant watchmaker, than the UR-110 could very much be for you.
Pricing and Availability
The UR-110 ST is priced from CHF95,000 (approx US$100,000) + taxes and is available from authorized URWERK dealers worldwide. Low production numbers mean that it may be difficult to get your hands on one straight away though so I would consider contacting the brand directly to find out where your best options are.
The Final Word
I can honestly say it was a real pleasure spending the last few weeks with the UR-110 strapped to my wrist. Not only did my reputation with my peer group go through the roof but I also got to get up close and personal with a tiny piece of mechanical ingenuity, the likes of which many will never see in the flesh. As I said before, the UR-110, and URWERK in general for that matter, is not for everybody but believe me, if it is for you, you won’t regret it.
Special thanks to the great team at URWERK for making this on-the-wrist review possible!