New Watch! • 22 Mar 2023
URWERK Goes Back to the Future with the UR-102 “Reloaded”
The foundation stone of URWERK makes a return in a new limited edition boxed set. The URWERK UR-102 “Reloaded” demonstrates how icons withstand the test of time with stylish updates to the watch that launched the brand in 1997.
The Starting Point
The URWERK adventure began when, at Baselworld 1997, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei presented a round watch with no hands, the focal point being an hour unit gliding along a semi-circular track. Design-wise, the watch a complete surprise back in 1997. Its case is shaped like Han Solo’s space craft, the Millennium Falcon, from the movie Star Wars. The display was also greatly innovative, with wandering hours running on a semi-circular minute track – a display inspired by 17th century Italian night-clocks made for Pope Alexander VII.
“The UR-102 is more than a symbol”, says Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and co-founder of URWERK. “It represents my entry into the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants). It embodies the first collaboration with Martin Frei, our first steps into the world of fine watchmaking, our first dreams of independence.”
The UR-102 is now back on the URWERK watchmaking benches in the form of the UR-102 “reloaded”. While the overall aesthetics remain largely the same, the watch now measures in at 41mm, with the crown moved to 4 o’clock and merging into the case. The lugs have also grown, and recall the attachments on the Sputnik space satellite. Larger, more solid and angular, the new lugs are designed to ideally position the watch on the wrist, while providing visual juxtaposition to its curved case and displays. The font of the hours and minutes markers are also updated, with new information on the dial, completing the nuanced evolution.
“Right the very beginning, we had the deep and intimate conviction that focusing on the wandering hour was our path”, says Martin Frei, artistic director and co-founder of URWERK. “In my sketchbook, I started to draft a few designs. These served as a basis for our work. We were more than just enthusiastic, we were euphoric”, he recalls. “For this UR-102, our concept featured a time indicator that looked like a celestial body. It picked up the vibe of Sputnik, the first man-made artificial satellite. The satellite trajectory of our hours pointer followed a semi-circle from minute 0 (ascension) to minute 30 (the firmament) and disappeared at minute 60 (descent). Like Sputnik, the ‘body’ of our UR-102 was made of a shiny metal offering a mirror-like reflection of any bodies that might cross its path.”
The UR-102 “reloaded” has retained this reflective power and the key characteristics of the UR-102. Felix Baumgartner says: “The blue of the original UR-102 is a distinctive feature we wanted to keep. At the time we wanted our design to be colourful and were thinking of a flame-blued shade for our case. So we used a lovely bright, intense, anodised aluminium. If you observe our UR-102 “reloaded” in its titanium version, you will notice that the minutes track is the same blue. It is these scattered clues that make the pedigree of the UR-102 “reloaded” patently clear. The same goes for the crown of the UR-102 “reloaded”. “We redesigned and shifted the crown slightly. The migration of the crown led to a change in the opening for reading the time. No longer a perfect semi-circle, this ‘window’ is wider with sloping edges, giving it a fresher, more dynamic look”, adds Martin Frei.
The UR-102 “reloaded” is presented in a boxed set issued as a 25-piece limited edition and comprising the “Titanium” and “Black” versions.