Our focus here on The Watch Lounge is, and has always been, primarily on high-end mechanical, time-telling masterpieces. As such, it should come as no surprise that we are completely taken with Urwerk’s newest creation, the UR-110 Torpedo.
Where It All Began
On the unfortunate chance that you are not already familiar with Urwerk’s work, allow us a brief introduction. The concept finds its origins in a meeting in 1995 between two brothers, Felix and Thomas Baumgartner, both exceptionally talented watchmakers, and their friend Martin Frei, an accomplished artist and designer in his own right.
United by a common passion for measuring and portraying time, many hours of intense discussion led to the decision to establish their own brand and focus on developing new and exciting ways of displaying time. Fast forward two years and URWERK SA is officially launched in 1997 with one clear directive: to follow nobody but to create their own path in pushing the boundaries of haute horlogerie ever further.
And they have been doing exactly that ever since, starting with the groundbreaking UR-103 (click here to check out the very first drawings of the UR-103.) After enjoying incredible success with modified and updated versions of this early model, the decision was made to retire the UR-103 to make way for a new timepiece. Officially unveiled last week in Geneva the UR-110 is every bit as mind-blowing as its predecessor and based on preliminary reactions, will be every bit as successful too.
The first thing you notice about the UR-110 is its unusual case so much so that closer inspection is not even required to confirm that this is unlike any other timepiece you have ever seen. Make no mistake though this is definitely a piece you want to get up close and personal with.
The basics of the indication of time are not unlike that of the original UR-103, except now in place of the rotating discs are three arrow-shaped “torpedoes” whose mission is to keep you accurately informed of the time.
Much like the other models in Urwerk’s stable (the UR-203 and UR-CC) the UR-110 is exceptionally easy to read, although first-time observers may be thrown by its deceptively complex appearance. This is important to note because a common pitfall for other, highly complex timepieces is that they are completely illegible. The UR-110 suffers from no such drawback and continues Urwerk’s tradition of telling the time using orbiting satellite complications.
In the UR-110, the time is always shown on the right side of the watch. The satellites follow a vertical line, graded from 0 to 60 minutes, in a downward motion. The ingenuity of this layout lies in allowing the wearer to view the time discreetly and elegantly without the need to pull a cuff or sleeve back. A minor detail perhaps but nonetheless an important one, especially when one is stuck in a dreadfully long board meeting.
Although Urwerk has ensured reading the time on their newest timepiece is simple, the inner workings of this mechanical marvel are anything but, as Felix Baumgartner, the watch’s ultimate creator, explains;
“The beauty of the UR-110 is in its apparent simplicity. The development of UR-110 mobilized our entire team for nearly two years. Among the challenges posed by this complication was working out the optimal architecture for supporting the central carousel and the rotating hour modules. We finally opted for a technical solution that is radically different from any of our other creations: instead of ball bearings, a fixed axis runs the full height of the watch, providing maximum rigidity and minimum play. The whole complication is perfectly balanced on this axis “.
As Felix alluded to above this new complication is made possible thanks to a construction with three levels of complexity:
- A central carousel providing the complication with stability and equilibrium;
- Planetary gearing assuring the parallel rotation of the three hour satellites as they orbit the dial; and
- Three counter-rotating hour modules – each comprising an hour satellite, minute hand and counter balance – are each mounted on a planetary gear. These three modules are in constant counter-rotation to counter the direction of rotation of the central carousel.
Recognizing that the UR-110’s future owners would want a bird’s eye view of all this technical ingenuity in action the titanium case features a panoramic sapphire crystal offering uninterrupted views of the revolving torpedoes as they complete their circuit. As well as indicating the hours and minutes, the UR-110 also features a Control Board on the dial side with indicators for “Day/Night” and “Oil Change” – Urwerk’s service interval display, as well as small seconds on a sub dial.
On the back we are offered a view of the dual turbines which regulate the innovative automatic winding system and thus minimize wear.
The Final Word
To say that the unveiling of the all new UR-110 was highly anticipated would be an understatement of gross proportions. Yet in spite of all the build-up Urwerk have still managed to exceed all expectations, presenting a phenomenal timepiece which reaffirms the brand’s innovative nature and desire to make their own path. This new piece truly is like nothing we’ve ever seen before and in such a crowded market that is quite an accomplishment. We can only wait in anticipation of what comes next!
Category: Wow Watch Wednesday