urwerk - The Amadeus UR-210 

Luc Virginius / Chronopassion
urwerk - The Amadeus UR-210 


The Amadeus UR-210 


urwerk

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See other pictures Luc Virginius / Chronopassion

A flamboyant anachronism

For its 20th anniversary, URWERK embarks on a retro-futuristic experiment. Far from being an exercise in nostalgia, the new watch makes the sort of contrary and provocative statement one has come to expect from a watchmaker that disdains the ordinary. The experiment centres on one of URWERK’s flagship models, a UR-210. Flung into a temporal particle accelerator, this futuristic watch collides with the past to emerge transfigured as a flamboyant anachronism. 
 
“An 18th-century wall clock in the pure baroque style has pride of place in the workshops. It was one of the first collector’s pieces my father gave me — an imposing, massive work of art with elaborate gilding. For me its attraction lies in its extravagance, because extremes appeal to me,” declares watchmaker Felix Baumgartner, URWERK’s  co-founder.
The memories of these first horological infatuations are certainly what inspired the new UR-210  Amadeus – Amadeus referring of course to the Great Wolfgang. “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was certainly a pioneer of the Punk subculture” says Felix Baumgartner. “One should read his biography. He was a rebel and URWERK for sure share the spirit.” 
 
For this retro-futuristic move, the UR-210 was transformed by the expert hands of the talented craftsman, Florian Güllert. Baroque is an apt description of this new creation. “The decoration is very post-Renaissance 17th-century, but on a determinedly contemporary structure,” comments Florian. “The swirling pattern of acanthus leaves is most suitable for this style, contrasting with the angular look of the watch. We have merged the case, the crown protection and the bracelet into one unit to create an exceptional piece. I was given the entire watch to work on and I took it over to produce a design in steel.” 
This painstaking work took more than 260 hours to complete. Ensuring the continuity of the design was the main objective and the greatest difficulty for the engraver. “It’s a work of many aspects. The themes must interconnect and complement one another without being superfluous. This is certainly one of the creations of which I am most proud,” concludes Florian. 
For Martin Frei, this collision between the future and the past underlines his vision of a fluid frontier between time and space. “At URWERK, we have evolved a strikingly contemporary notion of indicating the time, yet it is based on a 17th-century concept. I see this as a continuum rather than a contradiction, in a timeless and universal dimension of ideas and thoughts. Since our beginnings, I have always questioned the idea of delineated periods of time. Where some people might see limits and rigid classifications, I see intangible bridges and links in an infinite flow.”
The UR-210’s satellite complication with retrograde minute is both highly original and totally explosive. The principal feature is a high-tech, oversized, three-dimensional retrograde minute hand. Its function is to enclose the hour satellite and indicate the time as it transverses the 0-to-60-minute scale. This one-hour journey through time, tracing an arc of 120°, is smooth and fluid. But the true nature of the piece is revealed at the end of the 59th minute. Then a sharp distinct “click” signals the return of the minute hand to its starting point. In less than 0.1 of a second the hand flies back to dock with the next hour satellite. This high-speed retrograde system is based on three key elements:
A central axis set in ruby bearings provides excellent stability for the satellite/retrograde complication. A cylindrical marine chronometer type spring runs vertically around the axis and generates the optimal tension required for the retrograde minutes flyback.
 
A minute hand, which also forms a frame for the hour satellites, displays the time in an extraordinary way. Milled from aluminum to exacting tolerances of approximately 3 microns, the whole structure has a total weight of just 0.302g and is counter balanced by a brass weight. This three-dimensional cage offers rigidity as it transfers energy from the cylindrical flyback spring in the top center of the carrousel to the double-star gear underneath.
 
A double coaxial star-shaped cam regulates the retrograde mechanism through its gearing and its rotation defines the trajectory of the minute hand. When the minute hand reaches 60, the double star trips a (one of three) hockey stick shaped spring under the mechanism, which liberates the minute to fly back to the next hour satellite at 0-minutes.
 
The dial of the UR-210S features a traditional power reserve indication at one o’clock. In a near mirror image at 11 o’clock we find a similar indication. No, it isn’t a duplicate fail-safe, but something much more important which deserves our full attention, because it is actually a world-first complication that indicates winding efficiency over the last two hours. 
Has your recent activity been enough to replenish your UR-210’s energy levels? If yes, the winding efficiency indicator will point emphatically to the green zone. If not, you have been using more energy than you are generating, and the winding efficiency indicator will point to the red zone.
Armed with knowledge of both winding efficiency and available power reserve, you are then able to intervene. If your UR-210 indicates an insufficient supply of energy, you can position the winding efficiency selector at the back of the watch to “FULL”. 
The rotor will then convert the slightest movement into stored energy. In this configuration, a turbine connected to the rotor provides smooth, unimpeded power. But if you are more active, then that may provide more power than required and unnecessarily wear the mechanism. In that case, you would position the winding efficiency selector to “REDUCED” to engage the rotor damping system. An air turbine compressor mounted on ruby bearings ​​spins and creates internal resistance – enough friction to slow down or dampen the automatic winding rotor. In “STOP” mode, the automatic winding system is disabled completely and the UR-210 runs off reserve power and may require manual winding.

Technical specifications

Case
 
Material Titanium and steel
Dimensions Width 43.8mm, length 53.6mm, thickness 17.8mm
Glasses Sapphire crystal
Water resistance 30m/100’/3ATM
Surface finishes Satin finish; bead-blasted
Strap: Metal bracelet with deployment clasp developed by Maspoli for URWERK
 
Movement CaliberC UR-7.10
Jewels 51
Escapement Swiss lever
Balance CMonometallic
Frequency 28,800v/h, 4Hz
Balance spring Flat
Power source Single mainspring barrel
Power reserve 39 hours
Winding system Self-winding coupled to turbines 
Materials / Plate in ARCAP P40 rhodium coated; 3D minute hand in aluminum with brass counterweight; central cylindrical spiral in spring-steel; hour satellites in aluminum; central carrousel and screws in Titanium Grade 5
Surface finishes :Circular graining, sandblasted, circular and straight satin-finished plate; satin-finished and diamond-polished satellites; beveled and polished screw heads
Indications
 
Patented revolving satellite complication with wandering hour and three-dimensional retrograde minute hand; power reserve indicator; patented winding efficiency indicator 
Super-LumiNova treatment on markers, dials, indexes, hands, and satellites
 
Controls
Two-position winding crown with crown protector
On the back: winding efficiency selector

Who's who

Laurent Picciotto has been a partner for many of the watches at Chronopassion right from the outset. And in some cases, he’s there even before the start. Urwerk is one of those instances, working as it does on the principle of subscription. In 2002, when the brother of one of the brand’s founders went to rue Saint Honoré, all he had in his pocket were drawings; all he had in his mind were projects, or even just visions. But these were enough to win over the owner of the premises. The idea involved of a new way of telling the time, satellites, and more besides. So did Urwerk’s founders have their heads in the clouds? “In appearance only,” says Laurent Picciotto. “Urwerk’s staff and its work are very discreet, but the roadmap is anything but approximate. It’s meticulous, professional work, perhaps somewhat on the fringes of our little watchmaking universe – but with a very clear vision of who they are and where they’re going.” The first Urwerk fulfilled all this promise: it imposed its style, a completely new movement and an all-new way of telling the time. The watch made its own mark amongst more familiar ranges of contemporary watches. However, the new features did not win everybody over right away: “When the first watch arrived in 2004, by subscription, we had to do a lot of evangelism,” admits Laurent Picciotto. In the end passion, pragmatism and this educational approach won the day – and the timepiece was a great success. Chronopassion quickly became established as the exclusive retailer for Urwerk in France. The store now accounts for a significant share of the brand’s worldwide sales. Some ten years after its launch, Urwerk is still cultivating its individuality. It remains faithful to its founding principles – displaying the time using satellites – but makes constant changes at regular intervals: “I’m still amazed by the brand’s ability to bounce back,” stresses Laurent Picciotto. That’s why Chronopassion’s boss has continued to work with Urwerk, offering every one of the models developed so far. Certain limited editions have been literally snapped up. The beginnings of a queue actually formed in rue Saint Honoré for these timepieces – or at least, enough people to be sure that demand would definitely outstrip the scarce supply. Laurent Picciotto believes this is due to “customers who suddenly rediscover the child inside themselves. There are some who have very traditional tastes but who really go to pieces when they see an Urwerk.” Is it rational to swear by the likes of Bréguet or Audemars-Piguet and then abruptly go overboard for the satellite craziness of Urwerk? Of course not. But then again, as playthings go an Urwerk is anything but rational.

Journalist : Olivier Müller (01/13)

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