The Urwerk UR-100V Iron is the latest addition to the UR-100 series. The case is made of steel and titanium, while blue and white tones express meaning. Once again, the Swiss marque has conceived an avant-garde creation rich in horological virtue.
In 2019, Urwerk unveiled the UR-100 Iron and the UR-100 Black, two models endowed with a wandering hours display. A few months ago (May 2020), the Swiss luxury marque released a further version of the UR-100, housed in gold. Earlier this week, the brand added a fourth reference to this series, the UR-100V Iron. This latter timepiece is housed in steel and titanium and limited to just 25 pieces.
Throughout its history, Urwerk has cleverly played with colours, textures and finishes. It has recognised that its existing clients, as well as potential newbies, appreciate the choice. While a prospective client may reject the appearance of one model, an alternative colourway or modified specification can prove a tempting proposition.
However, nothing is quite as simple as it seems. Merely changing the text colour on the satellites or minute track or attaching a differently hued strap could be a recipe for failure. Martin Frei, Urwerk’s chief designer and co-founder, expends vast amounts of time optimising shades, playing with case materials and considering various finishes.
With the Urwerk UR-100V Iron, for example, the top of the case features a circular-brush that follows the contours of the neighbouring sapphire crystal. The sides of the case feature a straight-brush running horizontally along the case band. Meanwhile, the bevelled edges, bridging the tops and sides of the case, are highly polished.
Once again, the hours are shown using the brand’s beloved satellite system with the prevailing hour running against a minute track. Anyone who has worn an Urwerk will no doubt attest that the wandering hours and minutes indications are intuitive to use and prove very legible. While the hours and minutes employ blue tones to express meaning, a white track shows the distance travelled along the equator over a period of time, up to a maximum of 20 minutes.
Felix Baumgartner, Urwerk’s co-founder and watchmaker, has created an impressive body of work, harnessing ingenuity and traditional watchmaking skills. Furthermore, the Urwerk UR-100V Iron perpetuates the brand’s reputation for neoteric Haute Horlogerie.
URWERK has added a new watch to its UR-100 series. The UR-100V Iron comes cased in steel and titanium, monochrome and unadorned, to highlight its most delicate finish — all done by hand. No colours here but subtlety. Form and finish together create an ever-changing chiaroscuro over polished, matt, sanded and shot-peened surfaces.
Here is the UR-100V Iron!
“The main reason to fall in love with a watch is an emotional reaction to its looks,” declares Martin Frei, URWERK’s chief designer and co-founder. “Beyond the complexity of its mechanism we have tried to refine this watch as much as possible. The UR-100V Iron appears in all its naked glory, leaving only the light reflecting on the metal to reveal its beauty.”
In addition to URWERK’s trademark satellite configuration of the wandering hours and minutes, the UR-100V Iron brings your spin through space into sharp focus. When the minutes hand has completed its 60-minute journey, it reappears on a 20-minute scale of 555 kilometres. This is the distance you travel in 20 minutes if you are standing on the equator of our rotating planet. The opposite scale tracks your journey through space around the sun: 35,740km every 20 minutes.
In the display on the UR-100V Iron, time and distance are on a par, the hours and minutes in blue, and the kilometres in bright white. Watchmaker and URWERK’s co-founder, Felix Baumgartner, reveals that he got the idea from a clock given to him by his father, Geri, a noted restorer of antique clocks. “It was made by Gustave Sandoz for the Universal Exhibition of 1893. Instead of showing the time, it showed the distance travelled by a point on the equator.”
Under the UR-100’s dome, URWERK’s new calibre 12.02 drives the carousel carrying the wandering hours on three satellites. Felix Baumgartner says: “This new movement enabled a redesign of the carousel, bringing the hours closer to the minutes as they travel in succession along the 60-minute scale. The result is an easier and more intuitive reading of the time”. This carousel, as well as the structure on top of the hours, are forged from anodised aluminium then sanded and shot-blasted, while the satellite screws are each circular sanded. The satellites rest on a carousel of sanded brass plated in ruthenium. The structure on top of the hours display is in sanded and shot-blasted aluminium. The selfwinding rotor of the UR-100 is governed by a profiled airscrew known as the Windfänger.
There’s a nostalgic look about the case of the UR-100V Iron. Many owners of URWERK watches will recall the independent brand’s first models. “We have adopted some of the stylistic features of our first constructions, and then deconstructed them,” explains Martin Frei. “For example, the steel dome of our early models is now in transparent sapphire crystal. The hard outlines of the titanium and steel case highlight its perfection. Because I’m always at odds with the dictates of symmetry, I have used different proportions to catch the eye,” he concludes.