Since its founding, The Hour Glass has championed the work of boutique independent watchmakers and represented them in Asia. In the last two decades, as innovative mechanical watchmaking has proliferated, the retailer has come to represent the greatest horological inventors of this generation.
In the early 2000s, group managing director of The Hour Glass Michael Tay encountered two creative talents of the industry, Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, who had just set up URWERK. The avant-garde designer and watchmaker duo had devised a new way of displaying the traditional sector time or “wandering hours” indicator, with a three-dimensional satellite display and arced minutes counter. The result was a hypnotic display of time that both honored a classic watchmaking design and interpreted it for a 21st century audience. URWERK has been challenging notions of watchmaking since its inception, and they have been part of The Hour Glass’ brand portfolio since 2004. In 2007, The Hour Glass staged a major watch exhibition in Singapore called Tempus, the first of its kind, and invited the duo to Singapore where their brilliant designs were publicly showcased and affirmed.
This year, URWERK is commemorating The Hour Glass’ 40th anniversary with a special variation of one of their timepieces that will be produced in run of three exclusive pieces. Based off its UR-105, while taking reference from the first URWERK watch retailed by The Hour Glass, the UR-103, the special edition allows one to peer into the skeleton carousel with a domed sapphire crystal that is cut and mounted in the same style as the UR-103. Like in all URWERK satellite displays, the carousel has four arms, each of which holds three extensions on which the hours are indicated, with a minute indication. As they rotate, they show the exact time, a beautifully choreographed performance on show 24/7.
The UR 5.03 caliber that drives the display is an automatic movement that has a governing system for the oscillating mass’ performance, controlled with twin turbine units that manage its efficiency. The two pneumatic turbines are visible from the back of the case, with a lever that manages the winding rate in three states — Full, Stop or Reduced. The watch also has a subsidiary seconds display and power reserve on either side of the minutes track, with the reserve energy shown in a fuel gauge design and a decimal seconds indicator, with the display shifting every 10 seconds.
The UR-105 series has seen numerous variations, within options in case material and with or without a hunter-style hinged case. More recently the brand has been experimenting with bronze as part of the case material, and the special edition is housed in a black PVD titanium case middle and back, while the front of the watch is encased in bronze. The sandblasted bronze cover is meant to patinate over time, giving rise to a watch that ages along with you and adds a new visual impact as you wear it over the years. The carousel base and baseplates are made in a non-ferrous alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, more commonly known as ARCAP, while the Geneva crosses that drive the satellites are made in a beryllium-and-bronze alloy. The carousel is crafted in aluminum and anodized.
In a statement, Baumgartner and Frei thanked the retailer for its efforts in supporting independent watchmaking over the last four decades. “For four decades you have unfailingly supported fine watchmaking with enthusiasm and expertise, highlighting our mechanical skills, while enlightening an ever growing public. Year after year you have promoted the efforts of watchmakers with exhibitions, dinners and other events for collectors. Whether independent watchmakers or major brands, you have stood by your partners and supported them loyally. And for that, we owe you our heartfelt thanks.”
Self-winding UR 5.03 caliber; wandering hours; arced minutes display; decimal seconds counter; power reserve display; winding efficiency control system; 48-hour power reserve
39.5mm (W) x 53mm (L) x 17.8mm (H); black PVD titanium case middle and back; sandblasted bronze cover
Black alligator leather strap; black PVD titanium pin buckle
Limited edition of 3 pieces