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September 6, 2008updated Feb 11, 2013

Urwerk’s Affinity With Black

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Geneva – The traditional presentation of the year’s limited edition series “Black” URWERK is an event awaited with no small amount of impatience by aficionados of the brand. Ever since URWERK’s creation in 1997, the company has reserved the privilege of celebrating each new collection by dressing 10 timepieces – 10 exceptional timepieces – in black. This year the waiting is finally over, because today heralds the unveiling of the new black platinum “Hexagon”.

The birth of URWERK’s “Black” limited editions goes back to 1999 with the presentation of a special version of URWERK’s very first watch, – the UR102 – which was clothed in black and called “Night Watch”. The model quickly became a collector’s item, and no wonder, its aluminum case and platinum base may be considered run of the mill fusion today, but it was proudly revolutionary for its time. The concept was revived in 2006 with the now mythical “Black Bird, a creation with combat aesthetics and a name derived from military aviation. The « Black Shark » followed in 2007.

Today the UR103 “Hexagon” – a limited edition of only 10 pieces – takes its turn under the spotlight, with its striking black platinum case making a powerful statement and leaving no doubt that this is no ordinary timepiece. The masculine lines of its angular satellites – in stark contrast to the soft curves of the classical 103 models – reinforces the sensation of an emanating force within. In the dark, the luminescent SuperLumiNova marking the hours and minutes indicates the time in an icy-cool menthol blue.

URWERK’s two creators explain their affinity with black:

Martin Frei, artist, designer: “My father is a physicist and night time is his favourite time. When I was a child, he sometimes woke me so that we could gaze at the sky together. The seemingly infinite black of the night would sometimes appear terrifying and, despite my father’s presence, I did not always feel particularly reassured. Then, slowly, I began to like the darkness and feel at my ease and I even began to await its arrival with impatience. At night my father did not speak to me like a scientist, but as a storyteller.

As I grew up black took other forms in my life, notably the jet-black India ink used during my studies in visual arts in Lucerne, where I learned how to fix my desires and visions on paper. My first sketches are always drawn in black and white, like the sketches in an old film. It is at this moment, when the drawing is without colour or artifice, that the true nature of an idea is revealed and that is the time that I feel that I can really judge the value of a project. For me, black is the supreme colour: it irresistibly and simultaneously manages to both attract the light and swallow all the other colours.”

Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker: “The colour Black evokes mechanical memories of the parts of old clocks that my father restored in his workshop. When I was seven years old I was already rubbing the black patina of time off old wheels to restore their mobility by using a rag soaked in grease remover. Those parts appeared to be ageless, but it was perhaps simply that they were much, much older than me. Since then, black has been synonymous in my mind with timelessness. It was also synonymous with intimacy, because in my room, at my bedside, my father had placed one of his enormous black clocks. In the dark I listened as it sounded the hours throughout the night. In the absolute black of night, the sound provided a reference mark, reminding me that I was safely in my bed at home.

Since I was 16 years old, black has also been the colour of my third eye, i.e. my watchmaker’s loupe. This is my primary tool and we are rarely parted. My black loupe is a part of me and I often forget that it rests on my forehead when I leave the atelier; it is the symbol of my craft. Today the colour black inspires force and even certain aggressivity to me. Our « Black » line is also a concept: noble platinum reinforced by the powerful obscurity of its dark coat. In fact, few of those that see the watch will be able to appreciate and evaluate its value. It is the ultimate stealth watch and only reveals its importance very subtly.”

The UR103 “Hexagon” – Limited edition of 10 pieces
Case: black platinum (PE-CVD treatment)
Dimensions: 50mm x 36mm x 13.5mm
Movement: Calibre 3.03: hand winding; 21,600bph/3Hz; 43 hours power reserve.
Triple base plate in ARCAP P40
Time indicated with satellites controlled by a Geneva Cross
Control Board: Titanium; power reserve indicator; time regulating dials indicating 15 minutes and seconds; precision adjustment screw.
Strap: black alligator leather

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