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December 19, 2012updated Aug 21, 2013

URWERK

By Chris Boyle

MEASURING THE ROOTS OF TIME

Urwerk

URWERK is a translation of the hearts and minds of its founding partners, creating a language of poetic watchmaking.

Felix Baumgartner, a watchmaker like his father and grandfather, has time running through his veins. A graduate of the Schaffhausen watchmaking school, Baumgartner learned the secret language of minute repeaters, tourbillons and perpetual calendars at his father’s bench. Martin Frei is the artistic counterweight to his partner’s technical expertise. At the Lucerne School of Art and Design, Martin delved into various visual artistic expressions, from painting and sculpture to video, emerging as a mature artist. The two met by chance and discovered a common fascination with the measurement of time, spending hours analyzing the gap between the watches they saw in the shops and the vision of their future creation.

“Bringing out yet another version of an existing mechanical complication was not our aim,” Baumgartner says. “Our watches are unique because each has been conceived as an original work. Above all, we want to explore beyond the traditional horizons of watchmaking.”

Frei helps make this possible. “I come from a world of total creative freedom. I’m not cast in the watchmaking mould, so I can draw my inspiration from my entire cultural heritage.” That heritage is reflected in the name of their company, which means “original accomplishment.” The name stems from the Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia, where the Sumerians observed the concurrence of the heavenly bodies with the seasons, and so developed the first measurements of time.

THE UR-103T

UR-103T

On the UR-103T, an orbiting and rotating satellite display the hours as it arcs across the minute chapter.

The three hour satellites rotate simultaneously behind the scenes in multiple stages, in preparation for their turn to indicate the time. They actually perform a four-beat 480° pirouette. Each satellite turns four 120° turns in the period between leaving the minute arc and arriving again with a new numeral displaying.

THE UR-202

UR 202

Time on the UR-202 is displayed using telescoping minute hands operating through the middle of three orbiting and revolving hour satellites.

These hands precisely adjust their length to follow the three sectors marking the minutes. Extended, they enable the UR-202 to display the time across a large, easy-to-read dial. Retracted, they allow for a very wearable and comfortably sized case.

THE UR-110

UR-110

The UR-110 continues Urwerk’s radical 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 back a cuff or sleeve.

THE UR-1001

UR-1001

The UR-1001 is a Zeit Device: It is a grand über complication both measuring and quantifying the era in its entirety, from a solitary second to an astronomical millennia.

The UR-1001 marks the passage of time in seconds, minutes, hours, day/night, date, month, years, 100 years and all of the way to a monumental 1,000 years. The Zeit Device houses a constellation of indications, including orbiting satellites and a comet-like flying retrograde.

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