“Look ma’, no hands…” – There are only a few brands that disrupt the classic horological canons of displaying the time. Urwerk is one of them. No wonder that the brand’s pieces get to be featured as wrist companion for Marvel heroes – URWERK with the Avengers in the end game. Their pieces are out of this world. With an imagination well grown in the Sci-Fi domain, Urwerk amazes us with original and unusual pieces. One of them, the Urwerk UR-111C. This is a presentation of the three pieces collection, as seen at SIHH 2019 and Baselworld 2019. There are variations of the collection, like the Urwerk UR-111C “Pistol”, but are not featured or reminded in the article. Large gallery.
Urwerk UR-111C hands-on
The Urwerk UR-111C was launched in September 2018. The independent brand takes another approach from its well-known wandering-hour indication. The pieces can be seen as an evolution of the linear time display of 2009 launched UR-CC1 “King Cobra”. The Urwerk UR-111C Iron and UR-111C Gunmetal were seen and photographed during SIHH2019. The UR-111C Black was seen during Baselworld 2019. I considered a good idea to have all the pieces in one article for a more complete impression and better comparison.
Wristroll with Urwerk UR-111C
Urwerk UR-111C Iron manufactured in 316SL stainless steel:
Urwerk UR-111C Gunmetal is cased in grade 5 titanium:
Urwerk UR-111C Black received a black PVD coating:
Ghost in a shell
Urwerk UR-111C comes in a very interesting case. It can be considered a three parts construction. But not in the sandwich typical construction of a classic timepiece: a complexed machined case is closed on the sides with two covers.
To ensure the water resistance, the brand uses a specially shaped gasket held in a machined channel. Such a complex shape requires experienced engineers and special tooling. The case is held together by several screws. Some are visible on the front and back, the rest are hidden.
The closed, finalised case of the Urwerk UR-111C is rather spectacular. The complex-shaped components end up in a slightly curved design that follows the wrist lines. Have a look at the wrist rolls above for a better understanding.
The case finishes are slightly different from one model to another. The Iron version presents a case body with satin and polished surfaces and covers with a fine vertical brush. The Gunmetal and Black versions have a predominant satin finish.
The case is very dynamic. Every surface is complexly machined adding not only robustness to the design but also a daring, astounding appearance.
To note the design of the original and complex lugs. These add wrist comfort for the 46 mm long case.
A better understanding of the lugs can be obtained looking at the back of the case. Note the screwed plate bearing the watch number from the limited series of 25.
Another originality of the Urwerk UR-111C is the setting and winding method. A top-placed roller is used for winding. Swinging out the side lever will put the movement in the set mode. The roller can be turned in both directions for the time set.
The Time Machine
And I am not referring to the 1960 Sci-Fi cinema masterpiece. The Urwerk UR-111C has the brand’s authentic way of displaying the passage of time. The watch indicates hours with a jumping system, dual minutes in a linear retrograde and digital manner and “small seconds” by an original digital display.
The digital seconds are displayed using two discs of only 0.025 grams each. The Arabic numbers are split between the disks as follows: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 on one wheel, and 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 on the other.
The small seconds “sub-dial” is placed on the top of the case. An aperture with a complex shape crystal is fixed with four screws. The excellent legibility is assured by a special lens. A dense cluster of precisely aligned optical fibres serves a light guide and magnifier for the digital seconds.
Urwerk UR-111c uses two different approaches for the minutes’ display. The watch displays central retrograde linear minutes and a second, digital display on the right side.
The complex mechanism is a beautiful implementation of two interesting complications. It also is a technical achievement to have two different, non-classical indications.
The jumping hours is placed on the left side, symmetrical to the digital minutes.
The Edge of Tomorrow
Urwerk UR-111C is a piece with roots more likely in the future. Powered by a self-winding movement, the watch is an exercise of mechanical creativity. Starting from a classic round base movement, the calibre evolves on display part, exploding in shape complexity.
On top of the complexity comes the exceptional finishes. The movement is hidden from the viewer but still presents circular graining, sanding, côtes de Genève, polished screw heads.
On the technical side, the UR-111C has a 48 hours of power reserve depleted by a Swiss lever system with 4Hz balance spring. The movement is so complex it needs 37 jewels (instead of a classic with only 17 jewels).
Back into the future
Urwerk UR-111C could be used in a dictionary as visual display of the word “original”. Nothing is traditional on this piece’s time display. Only the finishes are respecting the rigours of the haute horlogerie.
A lever is used to change between setting and winding, a roller is used for the actual set and winding – so no crown involved. The minutes are displayed two times in two different way. The jumping hours’ display is intuitive and original implemented. The small seconds’ indication is unusual: in position but also in implementation.
As a fan of the brand, I enjoy their pieces. I find the UR-111C not only original but also beautiful. From the aesthetics point of view, some of the Urwerk timepieces are strictly technical, industrial looking. But the UR-111C is cute, lovable. It is more than gears and numbers in a visible show of.
This is not a piece for someone who just has 130k laying arround. This watch needs to be understood. One needs to love mechanical art and to have an understanding of what it represents – a step further into the future.
Urwerk UR-111C Technical Specifications
UR-111C Iron, Gunmetal, Black – limited production of 25 watches each version
Retail price: CHF 130’000.00 (excl. tax)
- Calibre: Selfwinding calibre with stop seconds
- Jewels: 37
- Escapement: Swiss lever
- Frequency: 4 Hz
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Materials: Anodized aluminium cylinder; LIGA-processed seconds wheels.
- Surface finishes Circular graining, sanding, côtes de Genève, polished screw heads.
- Jumping hours
- Retrograde linear minutes
- Digital minutes
- Digital seconds relayed by optical fibres
- Materials: 316SL steel and grade 5 titanium, PVD coated in black
- Dimensions: Width 42mm x length 46mm x thickness 15mm
- Glass: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
- Water resistance: Pressure tested to 3ATM / 100’ / 30m
- Surface finishes: Sanding; satin finish