Over the years, Urwerk has made a name for itself by releasing innovative and modern watches featuring its signature wandering-hour satellite indication, which serve as their primary collection of watches, and with inspiration taken from the world of science-fiction. This formula has proven successful and has resulted in unique looking timepieces attracting attention when strapped on the wrist, albeit being creative variations of the same theme.
The second category of watches created by the brand sit in the Chronometry collection where you’ll find its EMC watches, or Electro Mechanical Control, as well as the incredible Breguet-era inspired AMC watch, short for Atomic Master Clock, unveiled at Baselworld 2018.
Last but not least are the timepieces coming out of the Special Projects collection, where Urwerk gets to experiment with new designs and collaborate with other watchmakers. This is where the UR-111C sits and where we also find its predecessor, the UR-CC1 King Cobra.
The UR-CC1 was Urwerk’s first incursion into a linear display of the time, with a design very reminiscent of the speedometer found in a Pontiac or Volvo from the 50’s and 60’s. The UR-111C is a new interpretation of a linear display that builds upon how great the King Cobra was while turning the knob all the way to the max.
As complex and futuristic the UR-111C might look, telling the time is fairly straightforward. Three sapphire glass apertures, at the front of the case, display the jumping digital hours (left) and progressive minutes (right) on rotating truncated cones, while the minutes are also displayed in the central window via a retrograde linear indication. The linear display of minutes has been used before by Urwerk so duplicating this technology here would be boring; that’s not what the brand is about. Instead, to produce a different visual effect, Urwerk decided to make the linear track appear longer by slanting it diagonally across the aperture window. This time display highly attractive and since the positioning of the hours and minutes happens along the side of the case, you’ll find yourself blissfully glancing at it more often than not.
The digital seconds are also displayed in an innovative way at the top of the case. Two interlocking wheels carrying sets of numbers pass across a circular window which projects the numbers up towards the sapphire crystal aperture via precisely aligned optical fibers known as an image conduit.
The fun part about Urwerk watches is how you interact with them and the UR-111C is no exception. For this new interface, the conventional crown has been thrown out and replaced by a fluted roller on top of the case. Not only is winding the watch suddenly a much more unique experience; it also allows for winding while the watch is on your wrist; something not usually recommended with a traditional crown as you risk bending the stem due to the way pressure is applied. To adjust the time, pull the lever on the right side of the case to activate the time setting function and use the same roller in either direction to set the time. No one asked for it but in true Urwerk fashion, it went ahead and reinvented the wheel… or should we say, crown?
Fitting the complex movement of the UR-111C does not happen in a conventional way either. The caliber is slotted into the case from the side panel instead of being cased over from the top. While the case does have a certain presence at 46mm, the curvature of the design will wrap around the wrist, even small wrists like mine, perfectly. We weren’t told of the inspiration for the design but you wouldn’t be far off if you said it looked like a spaceship. In any case (pun intended), it looks ready for takeoff.
It’s always a pleasure to see what Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, co-founders of Urwerk, manage to create when they let their imagination run free; and the UR-111C is one of the more creative and interesting watches we have seen in a long time.
Self-winding caliber with stop seconds; jumping hours, retrograde linear minutes, digital minutes, digital seconds; 48-hour power reserve
46mm Two-Tone (TT) black PVD and brushed steel; sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating