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URWERK treads a hard enough path — mechanically, aesthetically — that few dare to follow. Its carousel of satellite hours and minutes is not only a thing of beauty, the company largely owns this mode of time display, with nary a rival contestant in sight. Yet over the years, URWERK has also introduced new ideas and executions centred around the same idea to keep things fresh, with the proverbial finger on the pulse of contemporary culture. Arguably its cheeriest yet, is the delightfully playful and purple UR-100V.
Purple is the better half of Goober Grape, but knowing URWERK, it’s not just a “nice” colour, but purple is also the hue at the very edge of the visible colour spectrum, which the company cleverly ties back to its forever quest to push the envelope of watchmaking further, and further. Says Martin Frei, co-founder and designer-half at URWERK, “I like the fact that a colour is much more than what we can perceive. The colour spectrum visible to our eyes ranges from red to violet. Beyond that shade, colour turns into a waveform that our eyes can no longer detect, ultraviolet. I am fascinated by the idea of creating a watch that celebrates this boundary, this tipping point, this transition from perceptible to imperceptible.”
URWERK is not just about design, it is also about innovative technical expression: besides telling the hours and minutes in its signature satellite fashion, the UR-100V also displays the number of kilometres the wearer has travelled on earth and through space, just by keeping still: a good 555 kilometres every 20 minutes, courtesy of the Earth’s rate of spin, measured at the equator; and a dizzying 35,740 kilometres in the same time period as the earth zips around the sun on rails invisible to the eye. As the watchmaker-half of URWERK, co-founder Felix Baumgartner explains, “This creation was inspired by a gift from my father, Geri Baumgartner, a renowned restorer of antique clocks. It is a clock made by Gustave Sandoz for the 1893 World Exhibition and its particularity lies in the fact that instead of showing the hours, it indicates the rotational distance travelled by the Earth at the Equator.
The UR-100V also boasts a new movement, the URWERK Calibre 12.02. According to Baumgartner, the hour-markers here are placed closer to the minutes scale to allow for a more intuitive and fluid reading of the time, and the central carousel has also been redesigned, forged in anodised aluminium that is sanded and shot-blasted. The UR-100V is self-wound by a bidirectional rotor regulated by a Windfänger airscrew.
We don’t know of any other company going this way in reaching for the stars.
Movement: Self-winding UR 12.02, power reserve of 48 hours
Functions: Satellite hours and minutes, rotational distance at the equator in 20 minutes, orbital distance in 20 minutes
Case: 41.0mm x 49.7mm x 14.0 mm; violet DLC on sanded shot-blasted titanium; sapphire crystal; water resistant to 30m
Strap: Textured rubber with titanium pin buckle
Price: CHF 55,000