By Harlan Chapman-Green
Ah how the world would be a much more boring place if it weren’t for the inherently weird designs of Urwerk’s watches. The watches of accredit madman Felix Baumgartner, whom himself has a habit of jumping off really high things, have become an icon of the watchmaking industry, being instantly recognisable and utterly unforgettable. They are seriously big money watches, and neither the designs nor the proportions of their watches fit the classical template that we know to be a wristwatch, that said that hasn’t put people off them, in fact not making round watches is the best move they’ve probably ever made.
Urwerk is also famed for its use of the ‘wandering hours’ complication, in fact it’s pretty much all they use, they’ve even used it when collaborating with others like when they made the Opus V for Harry Winston. It’s kind of hard to describe without a video to show it in full time, but the idea behind wandering hours is to get rid of the hands of a watch completely, at least in the traditional sense. In these watches, the hours move around the dial slowly, ergo the reason they are called ‘wandering hours’, they move of their own accord with little interest in the outside world. Also at the same time, the hours will rotate, so one number is clearly visible as it moves along a scale which shows the minutes. At the end of the hour the next numeral moves to take its place, bear in mind that in order to achieve this not only are the hours moving around the dial but they are also rotating on their own axes in order to display the correct hours, it’s incredibly complicated when written like this but makes logical sense when seen in person.
This one is pretty cool too, you might stare at the wandering hours for ages and completely miss subtle details such as the seconds counter which displays seconds in tens rather than individually. Also, the minute numerals and the hour markers glow a bold yellow in the dark, and all this happens underneath a large and complex shaped crystal with a little lid you can lift up to gain a better insight into the inner workings.
This watch is also automatic I might add, with two small turbines visible on the underside designed to regulate the stresses put on the winding system such as when being more active, this is only available when the lever is in the RED position. There’s also a lever, which is pretty unusual on a watch. It’s there to disengage the automatic rotor and allow the wearer to wind the watch themselves.
This watch comes in two variants, one is a deep black PVD with yellow accents over a titanium case, and the other a polished titanium with steel inserts and red accents. They are limited edition and run for 65,000 Swiss Francs, which is a lot less than I was expecting. For more info, please visit urwerk.com