Exploring two topics never seen together before in a watch; measurement of space time and the boundaries of colour.
Established in 1997, Urwerk are still a relatively young brand, however, it already has a cult following and is recognised as a pioneer in both design and movement development among independent watchmakers.
This UR-100V Ultraviolet is the latest of several versions of the UR-100V that were initially inspired by a gift to one of the co-founder’s by their father, a renowned restorer of antique clocks – it was a clock made by Gustave Sandoz for the 1893 World Exhibition and its particularity lies in the fact that instead of showing the hours, it indicated the rotational distance travelled by the Earth at the Equator.
Almost the entire watch is finished in violet; a colour located at the far end of the visible colour spectrum perceptible to the human eye – anything beyond violet is outside the field of colour, so it really could be considered the ultimate hue. Violet purple is often associated with fighters, outsiders, crazies, heroes, villains and showmen; characters that are often themselves on the verge of something spectacular.
Co-founder and Master watchmaker Felix Baumgartner explains a little more about the ideas behind the UR-100V Ultraviolet:
We live in a universe governed by three dimensions – time, rotation, and orbit – that we attempt to measure and master, but what escapes us is this notion of SpaceTime. I like the fact that a colour is much more than what we can perceive. The colour spectrum visible to our eyes ranges from red to violet. Beyond that shade, colour turns into a waveform that our eyes can no longer detect, ultraviolet. I am fascinated by the idea of creating a watch that celebrates this boundary, this tipping point, this transition from perceptible to imperceptible. The UR-100V UltraViolet is about this exploration of the limits. Our UltraViolet conveys something mystical, it’s a hue that sits on the border of a dimension we call colour.
Face & case
Using the same octagonal shape as in previous versions of the UR-100V, this time the 41 x 49.7mm case has a violet purple DLC coating which has been applied to sanded, shot-blasted titanium. The left and right sides, and the rounded edge on the bottom (between the lugs) have deep ridges, whilst the rest of the surfaces are flat with bevelled edges. The oversized crown is nestled into the top of the case and features deep ridges for good grip and the brand’s UR logo stamped onto the end.
Underneath the domed sapphire crystal, almost everything is violet, with the exception of differently weighted white minute markers, hour numerals and any visible other text is also white; with the 60 minute marker and the hands being luminous yellow.
There is a three “armed” carousel cage that rotates in the centre (taking up most of the available space of the dial) which house the satellite hour discs, which also rotate to the next hour as time passes. The carousel and structure covering the hours indication are forged in aluminium and then sanded and shot-blasted after anodising in purple. Each of the satellite screws are satin-finished in a circular pattern, whilst the screws holding the 3 discs in place are highly polished purple. The satellites rest on a sanded and ruthenium-treated brass carousel. The brand’s name and model number are visible, but partly obstructed as the carousel moves around the dial.
Time is indicated from right to left on a linear minute track, using an arrow (minutes hand) protruding out from the satellite hour disc. Once the 60th minute has been reached, the minutes hand disappears and a new hand appears from a new hour disc, back at 0 on the minute track. After about 10 minutes has passed, the hand that has just disappeared, reappears at about 9 o’clock on a traditional clock, as a kilometre counter which indicates the 555 kilometres travelled every 20 minutes by every inhabitant of Planet Earth. This is in fact the average speed of rotation of the Earth calculated at the Equator (rotational distance). At the same time, a third hand appears in another area starting at around 2 o’clock in a traditional clock – this indicates the Earth’s revolution around the sun (orbital distance), i.e. 35,740 kilometres per 20 minutes.
Whilst the functions of the new UR-100 are effectively the same as previous versions, a new calibre has been introduced and the central carousel redesigned, which moves the hour discs to pass closer to the minutes scale for an easier indication of time.
Turn the watch over and there is a large sapphire crystal window, whose frame is in matte black and secured by 4 (polished) cross shaped screws. Rather than there being a rotor spinning to power the movement, the full area is taken up by the automatic winding system, which has purple gear notches around the perimeter and various other areas of purple, including 2 weight plates, which read “Automatic System” on one and “Planetary Turbine” on the other. The majority of the central area is matte black and features a pattern of multiple drill holes, which start off small at the centre and increase in size as they go towards the edge, providing a glimpse of the movement beneath.
Powered by the new in-house made Calibre 12.02, whose bidirectional automatic winding is governed by a Windfänger airscrew (used to minimise shocks and reduce wear and tear), the proprietary satellite hours with linear minutes movement, features 40 jewels and beats at 28,800 vph. Additional complications are the Earth’s rotation on its axis at the equator in 20 minutes and Earth’s revolution around the sun in 20 minutes.
Owners should expect around 48 hours power reserve once fully wound.
Although not much is clearly visible, finishes on the movement include circular graining, sanding, shot-blasting, circular satin finishing and chamfered screw heads.
The strap is in contrasting white rubber, with a raised textured continuous rectangle design on the outside and a sunken circular pattern on the inside.
Shown here with a matching ultraviolet purple titanium folding clasp, the official press release states the watch will be delivered with a titanium pin buckle, however, this strap shown doesn’t have any holes for a pin buckle.
Urwerk are well known for going beyond the traditional horizons of watchmaking – it is quite clear that their creativeness has no limits and are not at all afraid to break free from what is considered “the norm”.
The name Urwerk comes from the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq), founded nearly 6,000 years ago, where the Sumerian inhabitants first established that it was possible to measure units of time based on the shadows cast by its monuments. Ur in the German language also means primeval or original and Werk means an achievement or a mechanism. Urwerk is basically a tribute to generations of watchmakers whose work has resulted in what we know today as haute horlogerie, or superlative watchmaking.
Producing just 150 watches a year, the company sees itself as a craftsman’s studio where traditional expertise coexists with avant-garde styling. The company manufactures modern and complex watches that are unprecedented and in keeping with the most demanding criteria of fine watchmaking: independent design and research, advanced materials and handcrafted finishes.
Urwerk dare to be different and have never been known to hold back on imaginative concepts or designs.
Whilst Urwerk certainly do not follow the pack when it comes to the aesthetics of their watches, it’s definitely a bold move to go almost completely purple – people are going to either love this watch, or loathe it and as a big fan of both colourful attire and Urwerk, I’m definitely on the “love it” team.
The overload of violet really pulls on my eccentric side and the intrigue of how the colour plays with our vision actually quite interesting. Scientifically speaking, anything beyond violet is outside the field of colour, however, something that you don’t really see in the images, is that the violet purple elements actually appear black/dark grey in some lights – perhaps that is my eyes playing tricks on me, but interesting none the less!
Continuing on the scientific theme, all of the UR-100Vs have the “space-time” measurement element, but to be honest, although I appreciate the cool concept and mathematics behind the ability to transfer the ability to measure it into a wristwatch, I struggle to see a use for it. Time legibility is extremely good though and love the continuous movement of the carousel through time.
Being titanium, it’s pretty lightweight and wears smaller compared to other Urwerk models – being almost 50mm from top to bottom actually almost entirely covers the top of my scrawny wrist, but it doesn’t feel oversized and at only 14mm thick at the top of the dome, it’s not so big that cuffs wont go over it!
Regular readers will probably know that I’m not a big fan of rubber straps, but the underside of this one has circular cut-outs and it seems to feel a bit more comfortable against my skin than most.
The UR-100V Ultraviolet is a limited edition, but not a numbered edition, so it is not clear how many will be produced – it is likely the numbers will be in the 10s rather than 100’s though, as watches are naturally limited by production. At a price point of 55,000 CHF, it is certainly cheaper than many other Urwerk models, however, probably out of the range of a huge percentage of watch lovers’ budgets.
All Urwerks are to a specific personality’s taste. I expect you are not likely to come across another bold personality wishing to steal your limelight if you are wearing an Ultraviolet Urwerk – but if you do, watch out, it may be one of the other crazies amongst us!!