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Co-founders of Urwerk

 

The Audacity Watch Prize is awarded to Urwerk, for the AMC.

 

 

DE BETHUNE x URWERK

Expressing the perfection of the celestial order, this unique timepiece is a complex interaction of mechanisms specific to De Bethune and Urwerk a true fusion of their watchmaking genes.

DE BETHUNE x URWERK

United we are stronger in the fight against disease. In support of the Only Watch biennial charity auction of unique timekeepers, two great independent watchmaking “Maisons” De Bethune and Urwerk joined their creative energies in bringing forth a timepiece that arouses curiosity, focuses attention and touches the senses. From the outside, a case that challenges established norms, fusing the design and function genetics of De Bethune and Urwerk with its floating lugs and the singular vibrancy of mirror polished titanium. Under the hood and curved sapphire crystal, a mechanical universe which amazes us with the one-off URDB01 caliber jointly developed for this very special auction the crown at 12 o’clock, spherical moon phase, and Urwerk’s signature time indication with the now-famous satellite window in an arc that evokes the sun’s curvature.

The collaboration

DE BETHUNE x URWERK is the story of four personalities, Denis Flageollet and Pierre Jacques at De Bethune, and Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei at Urwerk. A story of mutual respect and implicit trust. The meeting of two ultra-creative and independent watchmaking minds, linked by a longstanding friendship, to donate for auction a truly original and highly desirable timepiece in support of the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 1 + 1 = 3.

UR-100 SpaceTime

Tracking the Earth as it spins and flies through space and time

The UR-100 takes us on a journey through both time and space, two concepts at the very core of URWERK. Using its orbiting satellite hours and minute hands, the UR-100 displays both time (hours and minutes) and space (distance travelled), merging these two concepts in the creation of the all-new UR-100 SpaceTime.

The UR-100 SpaceTime features URWERK’s iconic orbital hour satellites, differing however in one significant way. Rather than the red-arrow-tipped minute pointers on the hour satellites disappearing after 60 minutes when replaced by the next, the UR-100 minute arrow passes beneath and between subsidiary dials, reappearing to display intriguing new astronomical indications: distance travelled on Earth and distance travelled by Earth.

UR-100 SpaceTime

Distance travelled on Earth

The first indicator at 10 o’clock evaluates the distance in kilometers that we have travelled on the Earth without even leaving our desks! It is based on the average speed of the rotation of the Earth on its axis at the equator, covering a distance of 555 km every 20 minutes.

Distance travelled by the Earth around the sun

Directly opposite at 2 o’clock, the same hand (well it looks like the same hand, but is actually one of three) continues its journey to another celestial indication featuring the distance the Earth has travelled in its orbit around the sun – a journey spanning some 35,740 km every 20 minutes.

The UR-100 simultaneously presents three different space-time realities, providing a thought-provoking reminder of our voyage through time and space.

“For me, watches have a philosophical dimension. They are a physical and abstract reproduction of our situation on Earth, with the dial representing the equator, simultaneously in constant motion while seemingly stationary for us,” says Martin Frei, chief designer and co-founder of URWERK.

Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and the other co-founder of URWERK agrees: “We live in a universe governed by three dimensions — time, rotation, and orbit — that we attempt to measure and master, but what escapes us is this notion of spacetime.”

UR-100 SpaceTime

Caliber 12.01

Powering the UR-100 SpaceTime is the automatic Caliber 12.01, with baseplates in ARCAP and a power reserve of 48 hours. The automatic winding rotor is regulated by a flat turbine, the Windfäng (Swiss German for “air trap”) that minimizes shocks to the rotor bearing and reduces over-winding and wear and tear. The rotor, which is partially supported on its periphery by the flat turbine, also has a larger diameter, resulting in a lower mass and therefore less wear.

In-house testing of the flat turbine rotor regulation system found that it provided significant and exponential protection against excessive rotor speeds (the Windfänger rotates six times for every rotation of the winding rotor).

The design and construction of the URWERK Caliber 12.01 required incredibly high precision because of the extremely tight tolerances between the minute hand and three different dials and domed sapphire crystal it passes between.

UR-100 SpaceTime

The shape of the case may remind URWERK aficionados of the aesthetics of the brand’s early watches. As Martin Frei explains, “Towards the end of the 90’s, we unveiled the UR-101 and UR-102, the UR-100 is a little like our ‘Back to the Future.’ We broke down our approach and used some of the original design elements of our early constructions. The case of the UR-100 is a deconstruction of an early URWERK case. The steel dome of our historic models is reproduced in sapphire crystal. The form is emphasized by the titanium and steel case. I constantly question the diktat of symmetry and played with proportions to catch the eye.”

The Co-founder of Urwerk, Martin Frei, granted us an exclusive interview during the SIHH 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“After studying visual design and arts I came in contact with a wide variety of influences and cultures. When the world of horology opened its doors to me, I entered with my entire artistic luggage in tow. I did not find having an art background limiting; instead, my art opened new horizons in watch design. Technique, concept and aestheticism are, above all, acts of creation.”

Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux

Long live the days of metal gear solid, call of duty and, of course, counter strike. What do all three of these important video games have in common? An “Electronic Brain”, you will see why! Let me right now readjust my train of thought for a second and dive straight into a new exclusive timepiece that has caught my attentions and inspired my individual soldier. URWERK, the small independent watch brand has this year at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. ) in Geneva, Switzerland released their brand new model the URWERK- EMC “Time Hunter”.

Now is your call for action!
It seems that it’s the first time that green ceramic-coated titanium/steel case used, and I have to say it give the deserved extra edge that the URWERK brand is masters at producing. Including the re-design of the system into a more readable dial without forgetting there, magical handle found for the first time on the EMC.

“EMC enables the wearer to note how many seconds the watch gains or loses in a week (or month), to adjust the precision, and then test that accuracy using the EMC function to confirm that the adjustment is correct. This extra functionality allows EMC be fine-tuned to be as precise as possible for a specific wearer’s lifestyle and even to evolve with any changes.”

Great so now you know how precise you can get with this Time Hunter but do you know what’s hidden behind this incredible design?

“EMC “Time Hunter” features a highly legible time display with central hours and minutes indicated with high-contrast black hands enhanced with bright white Super-LumiNova. A rotating disk showing seconds at 1 o’clock balanced visually by the power reserve indicator at its antipode at 7 o’clock. The Super-LumiNova also ensures high legibility at night as it glows in blue and white.”

Dropping the cheesy video game reference, this 100% mechanical watch has the perk that very few other players in the industry could risk making.

The “Electronic Brain”! Are we talking about a Google-like AI or even a retro Sci-fi?

“To monitor and evaluate the mechanical movement, an” electronic brain” was then needed. Olivier Evalet, a software developer who is passionate about software and computer engineering, was instrumental in helping this bold project succeed: “The idea was to use precision optics, i.e. light, to measure the accuracy of a mechanical movement. The accuracy we managed to achieve is better than 10 microseconds. And we have created a reliable system that is designed to work over the long term. The power of EMC’s electronic ‘brain’ derives not from a simple battery but a super capacitor that even after 100,000 to 200,000 charge/discharge cycles loses tiny performance. We also chose a high- frequency oscillator with an extremely long life – its instability is only three parts per million over a full year.”

There are no words that can describe the enthusiasm in my life right now. My wrist is scratching like mad, and that is what I needed to feel.

My luxury Swiss watch passion is taking over, and now I can proudly be the hunter gather to my tribe. Chances for you to snap one of these babies; you are going to have to be quick as the URWERK  – EMC “Time Hunter”  is in two limited editions of 15 pieces each: one in plain titanium/steel and one with a military green ceramic-coated titanium/steel case. Hurry my brothers in arms your chance to make your wrist cry of joy and have one of the most accurate and precise mechanical timepieces is now.


ALBERIC VIRCHAUX

WATCHESPEDIA

It is certainly imposing; a watch with a covering like a dinosaur’s scale; a rather predatory aesthetic that demands attention. The three-dimensionally textured case in black and bronze features soft-edged spikes that catches the glint of light when reflected upon. All these are bead-blasted and micro-blasted to achieve perfection, in the goal of achieving a perfect patina. Thus, Urwerk‘s T-Rex certainly roars with a loud arrival, with its irregular dial and truly breathtaking mechanical complications.

The watchmaker dubs this as a “measuring instrument that has made its way through time and space.” It is a reminder of how humans recognize time just by looking at the shadows–just as how the Sumerians did back in 2000 BC. Today, timekeeping is done at one’s convenience, and sometimes, pleasure. UR T-Rex represents both by creating an archaic looking watch that showcases satellite hours; something rarely, or perhaps, not yet seen in any of today’s watches. There are no numerals in the dial, only digits found at the bottom edge of the face. This features four satellites bearing three-hour numerals, parading past the minute rail.

This is not a digital watch. Urwerk successfully develops this model after years of immersing the brand into a fast-forward engineering of modern day complications. Inside the watch is a carousel tucked under the satellite structure, quietly powering up the movement efficiently and accurately. Initially, satellites were constructed on a Maltese cross topped with an orbital cross. Over time, refinements were made, and the present-day construction reveals the brand’s genius towards irregularly beautiful haute hologerie.

Urwerk is a young luxury watch company, only established in 1997. It is lauded as a pioneer in the independent watchmaking scene, sticking to its values of producing limited-edition, yet truly artisan timepieces. Exploring beyond the traditional techniques and aesthetics, Urwerk breaks walls to achieve creative freedom, touching history and cultures to engineer never-been-seen-before watches the modern day enthusiasts will surely admire.

Specifications:

  • 5.02 UR automatic winding, double turbine
  • 48-hr Power Reserve
  • 4Hz Frequency
  • 30m Water Resistance
  • Satellite hours’ indication in beryllium bronze
  • Carousel & triple main plates in ARCAP
  • Orbital structure in polyetheretherketone (PEEK)
  • 52 jewels
  • Sapphire crystal case with hand-patinated bronze
  • Case back in black PVD titanium

PASCAL GRENACHER

WATCHESPEDIA