URWERK launches the first UR-120. Nicknamed “Spock”, the watch pays tribute to the sci-fi classic Star Trek, a cultural reference that has inspired URWERK’s designs and aesthetics from the beginning.
Hand up, palm forward, fingers parted in the middle, and then the greeting: “Live long and prosper!” Known to all Star Trek fans, this Vulcan salutation rings like a blessing. This sign is also an integral part of URWERK’s design DNA – an image of Spock has occupied pride of place on one of the walls in their Geneva workshop for years.
A V-Shaped Open Hand
Recreating the Vulcan salute in a watch display is the latest challenge for URWERK co-founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. The wandering hours that has become one of the hallmarks of URWERK watches come bearing an updated hour marker. Unlike its predecessors, the satellite marker of the UR-120 comprise of two rectangular studs that come together to display the hour unit, and separate as it exits the minute track. Upon reaching the left part of the case, the command to change the satellite face triggers the separation of the two studs, which then spin on their own axis, before shutting to display the new hour unit.
“In truth, when we realized we were going to have to open the satellite, I was over the moon,” says Felix Baumgartner, URWERK’s co-founder and master watchmaker. “Our biggest challenge has always been to manage forces. At the exact moment of the salute, a lyre-shaped spring opens and then closes the satellite. Managing energy then and there is complex and very subtle. We need to manage the opening AND the stud rotation. We ended up manufacturing the spring ourselves, in-house, because we had to go through so many trials while defining its geometry and thickness. With the UR-120, we also experienced a considerable gain in readability: the hour markers these opening studs allowed have grown bigger by 35% compared to the UR-110.”
The gain in thickness to allow the new rotating and spinning satellites translates to a new volume for the UR-120 case. The UR-120 case is made up of two interlocking parts, equivalent to a caseback and a bezel. 44mm long, 47mm wide and 15.8mm thick, the proportions of the case still ensure ergonomic comfort on the wrist. The upper part of the case is completely smooth, with no screws or notches, the perfectly fluid lines flowing on a gentle curve to the apex at the middle of the sapphire glass.
Martin Frei acknowledges this to be his interpretation of Gerald Genta’s own design approach. “I’ve always loved the way his cases are constructed, with an intertwined lower case and upper case. Technically speaking, that’s very smart.”
Flowing on fluidly from the case are the lugs, a rare feature in URWERK watches. The lugs at 6 o’clock are articulated – URWERK has cleverly fitted a spring that helps the strap rest on the wrist ergonomically. A new calf leather strap comes standard, embossed with a ballistic-type pattern. Reminiscent of a woven nylon, this new strap offers superior comfort and flexibility.
First in Gray
The first series of UR-120 takes on a near all-gray form. Finely sandblasted steel on the upper part of the case and the bezel. On the sandblasted titanium lower part, a small window on the back allows direct view of the star-shaped Windfänger, which regulates the automatic winding intensity. Golden shards from the Maltese crosses and lyre-shaped springs, all 24ct-gold PVD treated, serve to underline the technical aspects of this watch, and break the monochromatic continuum.
The new URWERK UR-120 aka “Spock” is a limited-production with an automatic calibre UR-20.01 movement, 48 hour power reserve, and water resistant to 3 ATM.