Urwerk UR-106 Lotus: Welcome To The Future Of Feminine Watches
A few years ago I borrowed an Urwerk UR-110 TTH for a full month of real-world testing.
And even though I felt like a kid in a candy store as soon as I strapped it on, I did have a hard time believing that its creators, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, were picturing my little wrist when they originally conceived what was a watch known for its masculine beauty.
Despite its obvious size it sat surprisingly well on my small wrist, but it was also very apparent that this watch was not made with the likes of me in mind. Despite its surprising comfort, I would never choose the UR-110 TTH as an everyday wearer for myself.
But the UR-106 Lotus certainly would be!
Why the smaller size is so perfect
It’s kind of a Christmas present, isn’t it? An Urwerk watch perfectly sized for a feminine wrist!
And let’s start right where the most important element leading to this comfort is: the crown.
The tactile business of winding and setting the time on a watch is tantamount to the comfort it will exude. And on an Urwerk, winding and setting is easier thanks to the oversized crown.
Some complicated watches take a little more brain grease than others to set, and fumbling with small crowns can be quite tricky, particularly – and please excuse this aspect of feminine hands – if you want to keep your fingernails intact.
The crown on any Urwerk – which is quite large by design – is as easy to manage as they come. Placed at 12 o’clock between the integrated lugs, it is eminently simple to manipulate, simply swiping the forefinger across it is enough to wind the balance into motion.
The automatic winding rotor takes over quickly. Setting the time is equally as easy: all it takes is pulling it out and swiping the forefinger across the crown until the correct position is shown by the rotating satellites.
“I think that the crown of a watch, the interface where the human meets the machine to charge it with his energy, is an essential part that deserves special attention and an accurate design,” Frei, Urwerk co-founder and designer, once explained to me. Frei was inspired by Sumerian building and Egyptian pyramid constructions for his brand’s crown design. “One reason why Urwerk crowns are massive is to celebrate this moment.”
Urwerk’s crown, usually manufactured in titanium or gold, is always positioned at 12 or 6 o’clock, ensuring the larger crowns are never uncomfortable to wear as they do not poke into the wrist and are are always protected by the lugs.
Alongside the design aspect, large crowns provide better handling in operating a watch’s functions as well as making for easier winding. Urwerk incorporates three rubber seals instead of the usual one or two that smaller crowns are generally outfitted with, as the niche brand knows knows that its clients like to play with them (providing “fast-forward” action of the satellites to entertain friends, for example).
That means that the crowns and mechanisms are not only used for their intended purposes, but also generate a lot more play than conventional crowns.
“The turning friction gets special attention (adapted force and correct quantity of special lubrication) to ensure that the crown neither turns too freely nor not freely enough over a long period of time,” explains Cyrano Devanthey of Urwerk’s special research division.
Within my personal circle of friends, this timepiece was widely ogled and appreciated, though I did have to explain how to read the unfamiliar display every time someone asked about it – which was practically any time I wore it.
The answer is easier than one would ever think. Others were at first mildly confused by the visible mechanics of all three of the satellites, so I generally used a sleeve to cover the lion’s share of the deep sapphire crystal to help explain that it was only the scale along the bottom that one had to pay attention to in order to see what time it is.
Personally, it only took about 24 hours to retrain my eye to stop looking for the conventional circular rotations that watch hands usually make. Once I did that, reading the minutes and hours was intuitive, easy, and pleasurable. Because there is no display of seconds, however, something strange begins to happen: you stop worrying about them. To-the-minute schedules became sort of moot, and I discovered that I kind of liked the feeling.
The fascinating mechanics are a distinct pleasure to view within the extra-curvaceous case, though the satellites displaying the hour move so slowly that there are basically no moving parts to observe. Another surprising element was the subdued use of diamonds; these did not feel blingy in the least despite the impresive array on the armored bezel.
Coming back to the mechanics, I would like to stress that because the case is smaller, the movement needed to also be slightly rearranged: the Lotus contains a revised version of Urwerk’s typical satellite hours. Three satellites, each outfitted with four hour numerals, sweep along the arced minute scale along the bottom, forming both an analogue and a digital indication of time.
The carrousel and its satellites are meticulously satin-finished by hand, and each numeral for the hours and minutes is meticulously hand-painted with Super-LumiNova. Frei chose the lapis lazuli blue of the moon from among hundreds of colors.
I’m glad that the UR-106 Lotus was not planned as a rogue spinoff, but rather as a collection model. And I look forward to seeing what’s next for the Lotus!
For more information, please visit www.urwerk.com/en/collection-106-collection-ur-106.
Case: 49.4 x 35 x 14.45 mm, stainless steel and titanium set with diamonds or black PVD-coated steel set with black diamonds
Movement: automatic Caliber UR-6.01 with satellite displays driven by Geneva crosses
Functions: hours (shown by satellite), minutes; moon phase
Limitation: 11 pieces in each color
Price: 85,000 Swiss francs
Also published on Medium.