If there’s one thing we’ve come to know over the years about URWERK, it’s that they excel at creating surprising variations on a theme. So far they’ve maintained a consistent output of sharply designed, mechanically proficient and philosophically coherent watches that are all based on the same system of time display — the wandering hour in three-dimensional satellite format.
Forays into electro-mechanical watchmaking began in 2013 with the first EMC, and this category of URWERK creations now includes the face-meltingly ambitious AMC with its amalgamation of atomic timekeeping and Breguet-era techniques.
There is one more mode of information display that URWERK explored briefly nearly 10 years ago, the linear display, as manifested in the UR-CC1. Time may or may not be a flat circle, but certainly the Nietzschean (or McConaugheyan, depending on your media consumption) concept is strikingly explored in the all-linear displays of the UR-CC1.
The second instalment of this exploration comes in the form of the new UR-111, which walks back a few of the linear displays in order to emphasise linear minutes on a rotating cylinder and interlocking seconds. People have been unofficially referring to this project as the second Cobra, but the UR-111 is more of a distant cousin than a direct descendant. Design-wise, I can see the logic, but mechanically (and that’s always the core of any URWERK creation) probably not so much.
The interlocking rotating skeleton seconds display is transmitted through a section of optical fibre, which brings the indication visually to the top of the sapphire crystal pane. The movement is wound via a grooved cylinder mounted on the top of the case, a feature that greatly increases the tactile appeal of the UR-111.
On the wrist, the UR-111 has a definite presence while still being insanely comfortable, which is typical of all URWERK watches, really (with perhaps the exception of the UR-1001 Zeit Device, for obvious reasons). Just like the AMC, the UR-111 is a bit of an evolutionary leap within its category, and it’s marking 2018 out as something of a watershed year for the brand.