Two men, Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner shared a passion for horology and design and would together launch a partnership that would eventually be known as Urwerk. Frei trained at the prestigious Solothurn School of Watchmaking and Baumgartner a graphic design graduate from the Zurich School of visual arts. These men would take a conservative industry and turn it on its heels as they launched their creations in the watchmaking world. The 1990’s saw them craft their first model, the UR-101, a timepiece that displayed time on an arc, replicating the path the sun took across the sky. They followed this with the 103 featuring satellite hours and taking the challenge of ensuring the satellites rotated very smoothly, even though they were 160 times heavier than a standard hour hand. With each new timepiece introduction came a new design.
The pair were unique in their creations mainly because each one was conceived as an original, with an aesthetic signature for each model, inspired by their own lives and dreams, the complexity of these timepieces was astounding. Satellite hours, cams and jewels, transporters, precision and architecture that was never seen before. The 105 design came after years of research about wandering hours mechanisms. The pair wanted to create brilliance, not create yet another timepiece with existing complications. This ingenuity developed because of the invisible carousel that sits under the satellite structure.
The company name has a unique history just like the brand founders. The ‘Ur’ was a city where time was first measured over 6000 years ago, a place that used sun-lit obelisks to capture the time. ‘Werk’ in German means to create. So together the Urwerk would have a deep meaning of creation of time unlike anything the world had seen before. That started in 1997 when the pair brought their first creations to life, and certainly launched them to the level they could run with the big dogs. The brand collaborated with the CEO of Harry Winston, and Busser, the founder of MB&F to create timepiece that showcased the satellite complication front and foremost, bold and stylish. From that moment the brand continued to release statement pieces that drew accolades from around the globe. The horological world filled with new breath as the pair saw their dreams become reality.
The brand accomplished great strides in making the Swiss watch industry a little less on the conservative side and opened the door for more modern and stylish designs that still provided precision and excellence with every timepiece. Nothing had to be sacrificed to still be amazing. After Urwerk was founded in 1997 the next few years were spent building a luxury brand that would be respected and acknowledged by the peers. The models that the brand created from 2000 to 2010 drew inspiration from a variety of sources, art deco played a key role, but sports, movies, animals, insects, and more. The horological art was crafted with luxury, some pieces like the UR-CC1 King Cobra was a culmination of 13 years research and testing. None of these timepieces were developed quickly and when they say these are rare works of art, it is not a rash statement but a fact.
The brand has introduced the world’s first artificially intelligent luxury timepiece, allowing the wearer to monitor and adjust the way the watch works customizing the personal preferences to their lifestyle. The UR-105 TA, Urwerk Knight features no tourbillon and no hands, it truly embraces what the brand stands for in unique design. This same timepiece was unveiled again later in 2015 with a Lemon Yellow and Black Orange variation really providing evidence that black cases are not the future. If you want to really stand out, go against the grain of standard watches then this brand can help you climb out of the box.
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