Watchuseek editor-in-chief JMF reviewed the URWerk UR-100 SpaceTime in September of last year, and was duly impressed. Now, the independent watch company—started by watchmakers Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei over 22 years ago—recently launched the URWerk UR-100 SpaceTime Gunmetal, and it’s likely to sell just as well as its entry-level predecessor.
If you are looking for a simple three-hander, this is not the watch for you. But if you like your watches to be a niche novelty equation of the complex relationship between time and space, the URWerk UR-100 GunMetal could be yours for US$51,000 — provided you can get your hands on one of the 25 pieces being released.
For URWerk, the price is not particularly sky-high, considering they often offer watches with a significantly steeper price tag. But Baumgartner and Frei set their sights sky-high when they first started the business: in 1997, there was no precedent for a watchmaking startup from seemingly nowhere to have the impudence to market extremely niche, high-end, high-priced watches. Neither partner had any idea whether their grand plan would pan out; it wasn’t based on any business logic, it was—as it should be—all about the watches. The concept, the complexity, the craftsmanship, and the creativity.
Those sky-high sights have been a theme that runs through many of their creations. As URWerk points out, “from time immemorial, humans have shared the universal habit of looking skywards for guidance.” Therefore, they have devoted an entire collection of watches to the notion of time in relation to spinning around the sun.
As Justin mentions in his review, the seemingly new 12.01 caliber is actually nothing new for URWerk. Instead, it’s a reworking of two of URWerk’s earliest releases, the UR-101 and UR-102. At the same time, the UR-100 SpaceTime Gunmetal pays tribute to a 19th-century pendulum clock owned by Baumgartner’s father; this clock was not a time-telling device as such, it was more of a showcase piece created for the 1893 World’s Fair.
Like the clock, designed by Gustave Sandoz, the 41mm Urwerk UR-100 gives you a couple of complications you will likely never need. On one side of the dial, you will see the word ‘Rotat.’ It’s an indication of the difference traveled in 20 minutes by a static point on the equator, based on the average rotational speed of the planet. On the other, you will see the word ‘Revol’ — an indication of the distance traveled by the earth through space on its orbit around the sun. It’s what’s known as a wandering hours system.
As the world turns, with the UR-100 Gunmetal strapped to your wrist, when the minute’s hand has completed its 60-minute journey, it reappears on a 20-minute scale of 555 kilometers. This is the distance you travel in 20 minutes if you are standing on the equator of planet Earth. Who knew? I lived right on the Equator for over ten years. The opposite scale tracks your journey through space around the sun: 35,740km every 20 minutes.
In the display on the UR-100 Gunmetal, time and distance are on a par, the hours and minutes are in vivid green, while the kilometers are in bright white. The 12.01 movement drives the carousel carrying the hours on three satellites, which travel in succession along a 60-minute scale. The satellites rest on a carousel of sanded brass plated in ruthenium. The structure on top of the hours display is made from sanded and shot-blasted aluminum.
“Since time immemorial” there has always been a market for the unusual and the exquisite, and with the UR-100 SpaceTime Gunmetal, Urwerk has cleverly captured the imagination of an elite watch-collecting fraternity.