Urwerk From the UR 103 to the EMC : horological dialogues

— Born from the ongoing exchanges between a omega replica watchmaker and a designer, Urwerk watches take things up a notch by actually establishing a dialogue with their owners.

Urwerk AlTiN gold, caseback in titanium (UR-CC1 AlTiN)

Heading: Tech & Tests 

Founded in 1997 by watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and designer Martin Frei, Urwerk creates replica Omega watches that are both technically and aesthetically original, thus embodying a unique symbiosis of which it is impossible to trace the exact origin. Given their intensely interactive collaborative endeavours, one simply cannot tell whether it is the watchmaker or the designer that guides the other on any given project.

Urwerk UR-103 White Gold Front & Back

UR 103 White gold case, 50 x 36 mm, Mechanical hand-wound movement, satellite complication. On the back: “Control Board” (power reserve, 15-minute and 60-second subdials for precise time setting, adjustment screw).
© Urwerk

While the story began with the wandering hours following each other across a 60-minute sector, as on the UR 101 and UR 102 models, the brand’s personality truly asserted itself through its range of satellite watches. In 2003, the UR 103 debuted a display featuring four circular satellites, each bearing three hours numerals. They rotate on the four arms of a revolving satellite and follow each other across the 60-minute scale that they point to via an index.

A similar principle governs the 200 watch family – UR 201 (2007), UR 202 (2008) and UR 203 (2013) – but in this case with three pyramid-type satellites bearing four hour numerals on their different sides, as well as telescopic hands that stretch and shrink to indicate the minutes. In 2011, Urwerk introduced the UR 110, a version that is simple in appearance only. The minutes hands are fixed arrows moving along an axis positioned on the right-hand side of the replica Omega watch and no longer at the base, in order to facilitate reading. The system ensuring such intuitive user-friendliness is radically different from the previous ones and took almost two years to develop.

Urwerk UR-110 Red Gold Front

UR 110 Grade 5 titanium case with red gold bezel, 47 x 51 mm. Mechanical self-winding movement, satellite complication, day/night indicator, 60-second subdial, “Oil Change” indicator.
© Urwerk
A promising decade

2011 also saw the introduction of the spectacular UR 1001 Zeit Device, a pocket-watch equipped with a calendar capable of recording the passing of time for up to 1,000 years! While the hours are displayed in a normal way for Urwerk, namely by means of three cube-shaped satellites, the minutes are disconnected from this system and instead adopt a complex retrograde display mode: a single hand accompanies all the satellites and returns to zero each time it has completed its travel. As for the calendar, it displays the months on a second satellite-type module equipped with fixed arrows to indicate the date, while the back of the watch features a circular 100-year running-time indicator that moves forward in five-year increments and a 1,000-year vertical running-time indicator that pursues its stately progress from century to century.

Urwerk UR-1001 AlTiN front & back

UR 1001 AlTiN (Aluminium Titanium Nitride)-treated steel, 53.9 x 42.6 mm. Mechanical self-winding movement, linear display of the jumping hours and retrograde minutes, double seconds display (linear and digital).
© Urwerk

With the UR 210 unveiled in 2013, the retrograde minutes move from pocket to wrist by adopting an amazing 3D sculpted hand. Imposing and yet light because it is made of aluminium, this hand successively frames the three hours satellites and accompanies them along the minutes arc before returning to its starting point in less than 1/10th of a second.

In parallel, in 2010, Urwerk began exploring new types of display. The UR CC1 is distinguished by a linear reading of the jumping hours and retrograde minutes that is made possible by two rotating cylinders: a minutes cylinder of which the helix advances as a line running from 0 to 60 and thus to the end of the hour; while the hours cylinder marked by 12 hourly increasing lines jumps forward the new hour. The seconds are very much in the spotlight thanks to a double display: a linear indication by means of a floating flat spiral shape; and a digital display by a disc rotating at two-second intervals (indicating the even numbers).

Urwerk UR-203 PE DVD back

UR 203 PE-DVD treated black platinum, 45.7 x 43. 5 mm. Mechanical self-winding movement, satellite complication with telescopic minutes hands, “Oil Change” and 150-year “watchmaking odometer” indicators. On the back: winding-turbine regulating system
© Urwerk

Watches under control

Moreover, Urwerk has developed various and often unprecedented control systems enabling watch owners to keep track or even interfere with the running of their timepiece. As early as 2003, the UR 103 incorporated a “Control Board” including a power-reserve indicator, 15-minute and 60-seconds dials for precise time setting, and a dedicated adjustment screw serving to adjust the rate of the watch to the wearer’s lifestyle (to gain or lose 30 seconds daily). Subsequent new developments in this field have included the Oil Change service indicator, the various first accumulated running time indicator or odometer; and, with the advent of automatic turbine-based winding, a speed up/slow down system serving to adjust the running of the watch according to the intensity of one’s current activity (with a choice between winding at full-throttle “Free”, at a 35% reduced rate “Sport”, or actually brought to a halt “Spot”.

Urwerk UR-210 AlTiN front & back

UR 210 AlTiN (Aluminium Titanium Nitride)-treated steel, 53.6 x 43.8 mm. Mechanical self-winding movement, satellite complication, three-dimensional retrograde minutes hand, power-reserve display, winding efficiency indicator. On the back: winding-turbine regulating system.
© Urwerk

Recently, the UR 210 has introduced a world-first ‘partly human’ function. A dial indicator at 11 o’clock measures the winding efficiency by calculating the ratio between the movement winding and effective energy expenditure. If the hand is in the central zone, the winding is satisfactory, while being in the red means it is too intense and in the green that it is insufficient. The regulating system previously developed by Urwerk has thus now been enriched with particularly useful visual points of reference. The relevant adjustment to Full, Reduced and Stop modes may be performed on the back of the Replica Watches.

And now comes the turn of the much-heralded EMC, a movement of which the owner will be able to accurately calculate the timing rate and then ensure it is finely attuned to his lifestyle and habits. Plainly speaking, the owner himself will thus be in a position to evaluate and adjust the rating precision at any given time. Never before had such an intimate ‘dialogue’ been envisaged between a man and his fake Omega watch.