It’s hard to believe that the UR-103 was released over 10 years ago. Yes — for those of you still mired in denial about how terrifyingly fast the last decade has gone by — it was 2003 when we first saw the shield-shaped watch with four conical hour satellites. As a testament to how forward-looking the watch was for its time, it still looks devastatingly relevant today. Officially, the UR-103 collection retired in 2010, but there’s not an URWERK admirer out there — and plenty of others besides — who doesn’t miss the first design iteration of what would turn out to be the brand’s signature time display.
Good news for all those people, then, because URWERK is bringing back the UR-103 — in a way. The new UR-105M brings back the familiar configuration of four conical hour satellites that rotate (via a system of Geneva crosses, one embedded in the base of each hour satellite, and advancing posts fixed to the movement plate) to display the correct hour when moving past a fixed minute scale.
The biggest update is one of design, and it’s one that takes inspiration from the Middle Ages, in an unexpected inversion of the first URWERK designs, which referenced the realms of science fiction. Martin Frei, the creative powerhouse of URWERK, has evoked the aesthetics of mediaeval armour with the case design of the UR-105M — the visible screws that rivet the steel bezel to the titanium case, the subtle camber of the steel frame that echoes the profile of a jousting shield or plate armour.
The lines of the bezel are akin to the shape drawn by the UR-210, which conveyed the sleek carapace of some extraterrestrial creature. The studs that interrupt the surface of the steel bezel on the UR-105, however, impart a more organic feel — resembling the marked exoskeleton of an arthropod that has evolved to wield its survival equipment as a part of itself.
The reverse of the UR-105M bears indications that will be well known to all those who have previously experienced an URWERK timepiece — the “oil change” readout that tells you when it’s time to send the watch in for scheduled maintenance, a power reserve display and a fine-tuning screw (and fast/slow scale) for adjusting the rate of the watch. The fine-tuning screw is an essential part of the developing philosophy at URWERK, which is to establish a relationship between watch and wearer — as perfectly realised in the URWERK EMC that debuted last year. (Click here for our in-depth analysis of the EMC and the implications of its technology and philosophy.)
An indication of running seconds is displayed through an aperture in the case middle, and so is another indication of power reserve, so the wearer doesn’t have to remove the watch to check how much wind is left in the barrel. In keeping with the mediaeval concepts of chivalry and knighthood, which center on dichotomous concepts of good and evil, dark and light, the UR-105M comes in two versions: one with a brushed steel bezel, called “Iron Knight” and another one with a matte black AlTiN-treated steel bezel, called “Dark Knight”.
Aficionados of URWERK have always felt the draw of the raw energy and dark aggression that is conveyed by the designs of their watches — the UR-105M may yet be the most potent incarnation of this powerful aesthetic.