Home News Mechanical virtuosity with the Urwerk UR-111C 

Mechanical virtuosity with the Urwerk UR-111C 

by Hours and Minutes Australia

If watches told the time the way they were meant to, it would be no fun. Time telling is a taken. What really makes a difference is how much a lover of fine mechanics can tinker with the watch. This is why, for true watchmakers, a watch is a machine…and a complicated one at that. When you experience the UR-111C, it is nothing short of wow!

The UR-111C was a ‘fiendishly difficult puzzle to solve’. This piece of art exemplifies a strong departure from the URWERK tradition. The minutes are shown in two different ways – linearly for visual pleasure as well as digitally for precision. The roller on the case performs the functions of the crown. The running seconds meander across a cluster of optical fibers. These challenging and unconventional innovations have made their way into this time machine. 

URWERK Co-founder Felix Baumgartner believes that, “There has to be a strong bond with a mechanism that merges into your wrist and communicates with you. A mechanical watch is like the first steps towards enhanced intelligence: a machine that becomes part of you and which gives you information in return for energy. It’s an exchange. You take care of your watch and it will provide you with a lifelong service.”

So, how do you interact with the watch? Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, the co-founders of URWERK, conceived a roller integrated into the top of the case above and parallel to the winding stem. Rolling the long-fluted cylinder with your thumb to wind the watch is a new sensation, but making it possible requires miniature gearing, complex articulations and intermediate wheels to connect the controls to the winding stem. The same applies to the original way of setting the time. Instead of pulling out a crown you swing out a lever from the side of the case and turn the roller in either direction. 

The hours and two versions of the minutes are displayed within glass sapphire covers along the side of the case so you can see them at a glance without turning your wrist or letting go of the steering wheel. Again, converting the horizontal movement to a vertical time display required precisely angled transmission with miniature bevel gears. The jumping digital hours and progressive minutes are displayed on rotating truncated cones left and right of the retrograde linear indication of the minutes. The UR-111C’s digital seconds are mounted alternately on two tiny wheels: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 on one wheel, and 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 on the other. They appear alternately, transported into visual range by a dense cluster of precisely aligned optical fibers, known as an image conduit, positioned a tenth of a millimeter above the numerals. This is a world first in the watchmaking area. 

The final touch of complexity in an already complex machine is its case. The movement with its unique indications, complicated transmission systems and selfwinding gear have to be slotted from the side of the case, once the panels have been removed and the time-setting lever dismantled. This is a slow and delicate operation given the tiny clearances and fragile mechanisms.The various finishes of the case are worthy of note — a harmonious combination of surface textures that have been sanded, shot-blasted, polished or satin finished. A simple screw can be finished in a number of different ways according to the surface on display.

The UR-111C is limited to 25 pieces in polished steel and 25 pieces in a gunmetal finish Price : CHF 130’000.00 Swiss francs

You may also like