Watches and Wonders 2023: Urwerk
Urwerk goes ‘back to the future’ with its first vintage re-issue.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary last year, Urwerk created a one-off UR-102 “Reloaded” timepiece with contemporary artist Cooper Jacoby and donated it to the Swiss Institute of New York. Considered the foundation stone of the brand, the original UR-102, along with the UR-101, represents the brand’s entry into the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants) and the first collaboration between co-founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. Those who lament that the one-of-a-kind re-issue isn’t for sale ought to act fast, as the brand has just released the cult icon as a 25-piece limited edition.
Seemingly simple, by Urwerk’s standards at least, the UR-102 introduced one of the most distinctive features of the brand’s offerings to come – wandering hours. When it was first unveiled at BaselWorld 1997, it was a complete surprise to many as its design resembled a sleek spacecraft straight out of a sci-fi movie. Time was read via a wandering hours gliding along a semi-circular minute track on the upper edge, a display inspired by 17th-century Italian night clocks made for Pope Alexander VII. To the uninformed, the retro-futuristic design of the watch makes it particularly hard to date.
The “Reloaded” versions retain much of the iconic architecture of the original, albeit with some modifications to the lugs, dial, and finishing to update its aesthetics. The pebble-like silhouette remains, this time anchored by larger, angular lugs that evoke attachments on the Sputnik space satellite. The result is a more comfortable wearing experience on the wrist, which is also thanks to the repositioned crown at 4 o’clock that is now almost flush against the case. The aperture has also been updated. No longer a perfect semi-circle, the widow is now slightly winder with sloping edges, which gives the watch a more dynamic look. Bearing new information on the dial, the font of the hours and minutes markers are also updated, handpainted with Super-LumiNova to suit modern tastes.
The UR-102 “Reloaded” is equipped with Urwerk’s self-winding Calibre 2.02 with 48 hours of power reserve and comes in a boxed set containing two variants – a full titanium version and a black version with a black PVD-coated steel case and titanium caseback. The handsome pair has matching rubber straps with a textured Baltimore-quilt pattern.
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