Our latest collaboration with Urwerk and engraver Johnny ‘King Nerd’ Dowell is a five-piece limited edition run of Felix and Martin’s UR-T8 timepiece paired with Johnny’s work to create a skull and scrolls pattern on the watch’s transformer case.
When asked why Johnny chose the skull and scrolls this time round, he shared saying, “I’ve always wanted to work with the pattern as the two objects work very well together, skulls in general are used in everything from art, fashion and timepieces, the list goes on.”
He goes on, “The first thing I did was design my skull. I tried a sideways and even half a skull, but I think I was trying to be too clever about my approach. Finally, I went for a face on profile and immediately the symmetry worked. I had in mind the idea of symmetry when creating my scroll pattern and I knew it would work best if my skull was as symmetrical as the pattern on the background.”
For those following along to the various bronze engraved pieces that our three-way collaboration has produced, you’d realize that the past watches have all been UR-105s. This is the first time that Johnny’s canvas was a T-8 instead. Says Johnny, “I love the T-8, it’s one of my favorite Urwerks, what a canvas!” So quite clearly, the new watch wasn’t much of an issue for King Nerd.
“After the design was ready I scaled everything down to the exact size of the T-8 case and transferred it over, ready for my first cuts,” recalls Johnny. “The first thing I always do is cut every outline, in this instance, that included the scrolls and skull. The next stage for me is the background.
“I cut everything away to the depth I feel works best. This is the most time-consuming part of the whole project for me, cutting away the background carefully under microscope, to make sure you don’t over run into the scroll areas or the skull, is an important part; there’s no going back if you make a mistake.”
Of course, as Johnny notes, his work comes to life best the moment he starts shading his artwork. “For the shading part I refer to the original design briefly because here I feel like I’m drawing again: I cut the lines in the areas needed and slowly bring together the whole piece. I like to step back every now and then during this process to make sure I’m not over doing the shading.
“When everything is complete I begin the blackening process, this is the part that really makes the whole case pop! Even after having done this a few times already, I’m still amazed by the effect of the black against the bronze color.”
But new watch type aside, this was also the first time Johnny had to replicate his work five times over. When asked how challenging this was, he shared, “It was only after I had finished the first one that it hit me that I had four more to go still and they all had to match.
“Reality, though, is that whenever I’ve hand engraved a set of watches, none of them can be carbon copies. There will be slight differences in certain cuts of lines and shading. This makes the project even more special as the owner of any of these watches will still have a piece that is unique unto itself.”