It has been a phenomenal year for the watch world. To round off 2022, we are celebrating the hits, the wonders, the visionaries and all the people in watchmaking who have made it so memorable in our annual Revolution Awards and Power Lists.
Today we are privileged to induct another brand into the Revolution Hall of Fame, the masters of out of this world satellites: Urwerk.
Twenty-five years ago, fueled by some hallucinogenics (according to Felix Baumgartner, he and Martin Frei were both on these when they met), bolstered by the courage of youth and backed up by some very real talent, Urwerk was born. And with this was the creation of the single most original, disruptive and unique time-telling language and horological vision ever seen.
While it might be quietly permitted today, back in 1997, the idea of high watchmaking inspired by Star Trek and science fiction was so totally left field that most collectors didn’t know what to make of it. But steadily, Urwerk found its voice, and devotees came. For me, it was seeing the UR-103.03 on Baumgartner’s wrist, like that moment in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the apes discover the Monolith and you hear Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, such was the power of my enlightenment. Suddenly I got it. It was at this time that Baumgartner and Frei catapulted watchmaking into the third dimension with the incredible Opus V, that I would later learn was actually their second concept, as the first one named “Time Bandit” was too hard to execute in the given time. With that, Urwerk exploded into the collector’s consciousness where it has remained for almost two decades.
At the same time, the pair have demonstrated a fascination with precision timekeeping expressed by their Electro Mechanical Control timepiece (EMC), the first watch with its own timing machine. The crowning glory to this project was the incredible Atomic Mechanical Control (AMC), an amazing take on Breguet’s sympathetic clock with a wristwatch linked to an atomic timekeeper.
It is incredible to think that Urwerk’s Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. It staggers the mind, such is their still youthful demeanor and wonderful creativity at even now, with a few gray hairs, they are still watchmaking’s ultimate rebels.