Geneva, May 12, 2022.
“… And that’s a wrap!” Today, the last representative of the 220 collection is being assembled in the URWERK workshops. This UR-220 Red Gold is sparkling and flamboyant. Its case has been forged in 4N gold and teamed with an immaculate white textured strap.
All in all, a resolutely 80s vibe.
Let’s set the scene. Florida. Palm trees set against a cloudless sky. Flamingos frolicking in the sunshine. Idyllic scenery. And then everything speeds up. A synthesizer sets a hectic tempo for a sequence shot at the water’s edge. Here in the marina, the sailboat is sparkling white and an alligator acts as a watchdog.
For fans of the 1980s the references are crystal-clear: Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs in Miami Vice. The golden tans of these hero police officers with their immaculate suits and Colgate smiles. The personification of success. These images had a lasting impact on an entire generation and featured two predominant colours: sparkling gold and virginal white.
“Gold and white may seem an unlikely combination”, says Martin Frei, “yet the combo resonates deeply with me as a happy memory. I remember the super-cool heroes of my teenage years that we all wanted to resemble. They were ruggedly handsome, and nothing could faze them. They would chase down criminals in their pristine loose-fitting suits, Ray Ban Wayfarer 5022 on, their hair blowing in the wind and gold gleaming on their wrists. That was really the iconic image of the 1980s.” And to conclude with a laugh: “And from this panoply, I was able to acquire the sunglasses. A must! »
Felix Baumgartner insists on the contrast between the timeless gold and the modernity of the rubber: “This UR-220 Red Gold, which marks the end of a collection, is a powerful model endowed with strong character. It plays on striking, full-on contrasts. It’s a great way to make a statement and wrap up this line with a clear-cut bias, a surprise ‘wow’ effect.”
One last time let’s review the characteristics that have made the 220 collection so successful.
For once, let’s start with the back of the watch. That of the UR-220 bears eloquent witness to the evolution in the line of the 200 modules. It bears one of the hallmarks of the URWERK watchmaking style, the Oil Change feature. URWERK returns to its first love and – after a protracted absence – reinstalls this indicator showing how long the watch has been operating. This unique information, which has long enriched models such as the UR-110, has undergone significant changes.
On the UR-220, the Oil Change takes the form of a digital gauge, whose unit is the month, indicated on two adjacent rollers. The wearer of the watch triggers this device by removing a protective pin and pressing a pusher on the back of to activate the counters which display the mechanism’s accumulated running time of in months. After 39 months – three years and three months – a service is recommended and once this is complete, the URWERK teams reset the counter and replace the pin. “It is a digital counter, which could imply just an alignment of units, a coldly calculated measurement, yet it actually testifies to personal attachment. The Oil Change counts the hours the UR-220 has been on your wrist. It gives visibility to all the energy you’ve put into it by conscientiously winding it”, says URWERK’s co-founder Felix Baumgartner.
On the carrousel
The UR-220 features URWERK’s patented revolving satellite complication. The wandering hours are displayed on three rotating satellite cubes. Each in turn slots into a hollowed-out minutes hand. Together they travel 120 degrees along the counter before – once the hour is up – the hand makes a big jump back to the “0” marker to accommodate the next cube. This retrograde minutes display is doubtless still the largest to be found in a wristwatch. In a quest for greater power and velocity, all faces of the minutes hand have been openworked.
This lightning-fast retrograde system is based on three key elements:
– The central axis set in ruby bearings ensures the perfect stability of the mechanism and is the foundation on which the entire complication rests. A marine chronometer-type cylindrical spring running along this axis generates the tension necessary for the snap-back retrograde motion.
– The atypical minutes hand – which forms a frame for the hours satellites – features extraordinary dimensions. Milled from aluminium to ultra-accurate hundredth of a millimetre tolerance, the entire structure has a total weight of 0.302g and ideal measurements (width 8.03mm x length 22.29mm x height 7.30mm), while its perfect balance is ensured by a brass counterweight.
– A double coaxial star-shaped cam regulates the retrograde mechanism through its gearing and its rotation defines the trajectory of the minutes hand.
Another item of information provided on the dial is the power-reserve indication which can be read on two subdials. The power reserve is indicated by these two 24-hour gauges. During manual winding, the right-hand gauge is the first to indicate the mainspring state-of-wind. Once it has reached its maximum level, the left-hand indicator takes over. This power reserve distributed between two “reservoirs” is composed of 83 mechanical elements, testifying to the complexity of its development.
The art of detail
As no detail has been overlooked here, the typography of the hour-markers on the UR-220 has been completely redesigned by Martin Frei and the hours and minutes numerals feature an even sharper profile.
URWERK UR-220 Red Gold Technical Specifications
Red Gold 4N – limited edition
- Wandering hours on a satellite complication (URWERK patent);
- 3D retrograde minutes hand; double power-reserve indicator.
- Oil-change indicator on two rollers on the back showing the accumulated running time of the movement in months
- Calibre: Calibre UR-7.20 developed by URWERK
- Winding: Manually wound
- Escapement: Swiss lever
- Frequency: 28,vph – 4 Hz
- Hairspring: Flat
- Energy source: Single mainspring barrel
- Jewels: 59
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Materials: Baseplate in ARCAP P40, 3D minutes pointer in aluminium with bronze counterweight; central spring in steel.
- Hour transporter in aluminium; central carrousel and screws in grade 5 titanium.
- Black circular-grained power-reserve bridge and module.
- Black shot-peened power-reserve subdial.
- Vertical satin-brushed transporters, polished bevels.
- SuperLuminova© -painted components: white glowing blue indexes; red glowing for the 60-minute marker and the end of the power-reserve scale.
- Polished screws.
- Material: 4N red gold
- Dimensions: Width: 43.8 mm; length: 53,6 mm; thickness: 14.8 mm
- Glass: Transparent sapphire crystal
- Caseback : Black DLC-treated titanium and sapphire crystal glasses
- Water resistance: Pressure tested to 30 m/3 ATM
- Black DLC-coated shot-peened and sandblasted crown; matt sandblasted logo;
- Black DLC-coated sandblasted crown guard
- Back: black DLC-coated sandblasted caseback;
- Pin: satin-finished body with sandblasted engraving, polished needle;
- Tinted sapphire crystals;
- Polished screws.
- Rubber; Velcro® fastening
Price CHF 149,000.00 (Price in Swiss francs / excl. taxes)
“At URWERK, we vow never to bring out yet another iteration of an existing mechanical complication,” declares watchmaker Felix Baumgartner, the independent watch company’s co-founder.
Its position is simple, clearly stated and respected.
URWERK appeared on the watchmaking scene in 1997. Since then, its revolutionary view of time has ruffled the traditional world of fine watchmaking and delighted collectors.
As a young, pioneering company, it thrives on its rebellious and non-conformist spirit, setting an example among independent watchmakers.
Producing just 150 watches a year, the company sees itself as a craftsman’s studio where traditional expertise coexists with avant-garde styling. The company manufactures modern and complex watches that are unprecedented and in keeping with the most demanding criteria of fine watchmaking: independent design and research, advanced materials and handcrafted finishes.
URWERK’s strong personality reflects that of its founding partners. Felix Baumgartner, a watchmaker like his father and grandfather, has time running through his veins. While some might talk of timepieces as a pastime, for Felix they are at the centre of his life.
Martin Frei is the artistic counterpart of his partner’s technical expertise. Accepted into Lucerne’s college of art and design in 1978, Martin explored every form of visual artistic expression from painting and sculpture to video. But what fascinates him most is how time is defined and expressed through the ages.
The two men met by chance and quickly became friends, spending hours analysing the gap between the watches they saw in the shops and the kind they dreamed about making. They embarked on their first model in the 1990s. Its unusual way of telling the time was taken from the wandering hour clocks produced by the Campanus brothers in the 17th century. In it, successive hours rise and set in an arc like the sun. Since then, the wandering satellite hours have been the hallmark of URWERK’s watchmaking.
“Our watches are unique because each has been conceived as an original work,” says Felix Baumgartner. “That is what makes them valuable and rare.” Martin Frei, responsible for the future shape of time, helps make this possible. “I come from a world of total creative freedom. I’m not cast in the watchmaking mould, so I can draw my inspiration from my entire cultural heritage.”