urwerk - Urwerk UR-105 CT
Luc Virginius / Chronopassion
urwerk - Urwerk UR-105 CT

Urwerk UR-105 CT

urwerk
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72'200 €

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See other pictures Luc Virginius / Chronopassion

URWERK in a New York State of mind.

URWERK is 20 years old! A time to look back over our shoulder, not with nostalgia or regret, but to recapture a sense of excitement. It was 20 years ago that 22-year-old Felix Baumgartner set foot in New York, where Martin Frei had made his home. It was vibrant, noisy and thrilling, a giant playground of fantasy and tension. Today they evoke that mix of emotions in their new creation, the UR-105 CT Streamliner.
 Let’s take you on the ride!
In March 1997, Martin Frei graduated from the College of Arts and Design in Lucerne (Switzerland), and moved to New York where he joined other Swiss artists in founding the United Swiss Artists (USA) association. He was then living in Brooklyn — in a garret that soon became a creative hub. 
Felix was in Geneva, Martin across the Atlantic. Their brainchild, URWERK, had been born but was struggling to take its first steps. The UR-101 and UR-102 were critically acclaimed but the company wasn’t viable. Its founders just managed to keep it above water amid increasing misgivings. What did the future hold for URWERK? Should they persist with a dream that was eating up all their savings? With these questions in mind, Felix took a plane to New York to join his friend. Felix Baumgartner was 22, Martin slightly older. Together in the city of their dreams they wandered the streets, taking in the images of New York, its redbrick houses, its Art Deco skyscrapers and gleaming subway. These pictures filled their minds and would never leave them.
 
 
Twenty years have now gone by and URWERK is an established niche brand. Their dream has taken shape and come to life. And when Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner look back to those days, their memories return on the drawing board and the workbench. Their American dream is now on their wrists as the UR-105 CT Streamliner.
 
The UR-105 CT is first of all a beautiful object that fits snugly in the palm of your hand. Its unique shape is a remarkable octagon with deep grooves along its length. The Art Deco influences are apparent in its geometric angularity and symmetry. As Martin Frei explains, “the Streamliner has a minimalist design with few frills and clean lines. In the initial drawings, I thought of the Empire State, the Chrysler and the Comcast buildings. That is why it has that vertical structure that seems to go on forever.”
You have to slide the catch on the top of the case to reveal the mechanism of the UR-105 CT. It’s a new wandering hour indication based on an openwork carousel, which carries the four satellites, each bearing three numerals for the hours. The hours successively sweep past the minutes scale for an analogue and digital display of the time. According to Felix Baumgartner, Streamliner is an apt name for this watch. “The UR-105 CT is a watch with a flexible design. When it is closed, it looks austere, with only the time indication visible. Open the protective cover and you delve into a metallic environment that is quite cold, yet you perceive a notion of speed and an effort at efficiency. The Streamliner’s carousel has been completely redesigned, becoming lighter, stronger and far more effective.” 
 
A power-reserve indicator and digital seconds make up the rest of the information displayed on the dial. The digital seconds are remarkable in that they indicate tens of seconds. The mechanism was made using a photolithographic process, with each marker openworked to make it as light as possible. It thus weighs less than a tenth of a gram.

Technical specifications

Calibre: UR 5.03 with the selfwinding system governed by twin turbines 
 
Jewels: 52
 
Frequency: 28,800v/h - 4Hz
 
Power reserve: 48 hours
 
Materials: Satellite hours turning on Geneva crosses in beryllium bronze; openworked aluminium carousel; openworked digital seconds; carousel and triple baseplates in ARCAP
 
Finishes:
Circular graining, sanding, brushing
Chamfered screw heads
Hours and minutes painted in SuperLuminova
 
Indications Wandering hours; minutes, digital seconds ,Power reserve 
 
 
Case
 
Materials: UR-105 CT in titanium and mirror-polished steel
 
Dimensions: Width 39.5mm; length: 53mm; thickness: 17.3mm
 
Glass: Sapphire crystal
 
Water resistance: Pressure tested to 3ATM (30m) 
 

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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