Look away Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner: Urwerk’s two founders go out of their way to avoid getting into a rut, but truth is there’s a slight déjà vu about their latest opus, the UR-110 Torpedo. Basically, there’s a similarity between this time display and the one that’s been tried and tested on the 102, 202 and 203, all of which use pointers, mounted on a carousel, to “target” a lateral minute scale.
Innovative ways to read time
Not that we’re turning our nose up! While the Torpedo clearly belongs to a lineage, it is totally original on several accounts. “At Urwerk, yes, we always set out to display time in an original way and never copy what others are doing. Though not in a gratuitous way. Our ideas are never disconnected from the watch’s main function which is to tell the time. Better still, they are always linked to notions of ergonomics and reliability,” declares Dominique Buser, one of the brand’s engineers. Which leads us to the subtlety of the UR-110’s technique and design: the ingenious layout puts the time display at the far right of the case so the wearer can glance down at the time without having to pull back their cuff.
The movement construction is also unique, with the exception of the Girard-Perregaux base. It took Urwerk’s watchmakers a good two years to develop. “One of the challenges posed by this watch was finding the perfect architecture to support the central carousel and the rotating hour modules. We finally opted for a solution that is radically different from any of our other creations. Instead of ball bearings, a fixed axis runs the full height of the watch. The entire satellite complication sits perfectly balanced on this axis,” explains co-founder Felix Baumgartner.
An intergalactic spaceship
On the outside, the UR-110 resembles an intergalactic spaceship and still manages to create an impression of lightness. More than an impression, in fact, as the titanium case, which is surmounted by a thin steel bezel, barely tips the scales. Design freaks will appreciate the full metal look and the meticulous finishes all round. An “all black” version is scheduled for later in the year to complete this limited edition of 55.
Since its creation in 1997, Urwerk has gone its own, unique way, releasing a new model every two years or so. Nor do the two founders and their team of ten, spread between Geneva and Zurich, intend changing strategy. “If we were to expand and increase the number of watches we make, the nature of the company would totally change. Which nobody wants. Felix Baumgartner is terrified at the idea of becoming a manager!” Dominique Buser concludes, laughing.