Urwerk goes Space Black For the Latest UR-120: Live Long and Prosper!
by Martin Green
Some brands exist outside of the regular realm of haute horlogerie. They are immune to trends but rather follow their own path, even when it seems to come from a universe far, far away. Such a brand is Urwerk, which, ever since its creation, has focused on the continuous development of the wandering hours.
Wandering through the nights
A ‘complication’ is generally defined as any function on a watch that does more than display the time (hours, minutes, seconds). So, by that definition, wandering hours is not a complication but simply a different way of displaying time. The wandering hours display originates from the time of pocket watches, although it was a rarity even then.
Audemars Piguet’s Starwheel is perhaps the most well-known example of a modern-day wandering hours wristwatch; however, Vacheron Constantin has also made some beautiful watches with this type of time display, such as the Metiers D’Art Tribute to Great Explorers. Wandering hours have even made their way into more affordable watches – the Gorilla Fastback Drift is a prime example.
However, for Urwerk, the wandering hours has become an essential part of their DNA. Unlike any other brand out there, they have explored, lived through, and lost sleep over wandering hours. Over the years, Urwerk has introduced different varieties of this way of displaying time, of which the UR-120 is one of the most spectacular.
The reason for this is the way that the hours are formed. Each hour cube is not a single block that rotates, but the numeral is made up of two parts, each spinning in the opposite direction around their own axis.
They then make a Vulcan salute, in reference to ‘Star Trek,’ in which Vulcans (like Spock) up their hand and split their fingers in a v-shape. The blocks that form the numerals do this before joining together, ready to display the next hour.
With Urwerk, it is always challenging to determine if form follows function or vice versa. It doesn’t make much of a difference as the result is both tantalizing for the eyes and makes a highly legible display.
On each satellite, a luminous arrow displays the seconds. Thanks to a detailed scale, time can be read with great precision, both during the day as well as at night.
Visually, the UR-120 is also a treat because so many of the mechanics that make this watch so special are visible. This starts with the carousel mounted at the core of the watch. Because of this, there is quite a bit of depth, and the perception of this is highlighted by Urwerk by giving the inside of the case the appearance of an amphitheater.
If we continue with this comparison, the three planetary gears are galactic gladiators, with as their imaginary weapons the lyre-shaped spring controlling the opening and closing of the individual satellite.
An Elite Core
Hidden is the Zenith Elite base movement powering this Urwerk, which is barely visible behind a small window at the back, revealing part of the intricate oscillating weight. While often overlooked, mainly due to the fame of the El Primero, the Elite does its name justice, as it is one of the finest automatic movements available. A perfect and reliable choice for Urwerk to base their magic on. It runs at 4Hz/28,800 vph, and even with the elaborate satellite construction, it still has a power reserve of 48 hours.
Black is beautiful
While the UR-120 is a large watch, measuring 47mm by 44mm with a thickness of 15.8 mm, it doesn’t wear as such. In part, this is thanks to the organic shape of the case. Combined with the flexible lugs, it sits even on a modest-sized wrist perfectly. Also, relatively low weight plays an essential role. Urwerk opted for a case in titanium and a bezel of stainless steel. Both are sandblasted and are given a black DLC-coating, setting the theme for this ‘Space Black’ version of the UR-120.
Urwerk delivers the UR-120 Space Black on a black calf leather strap with an embossed Cordura pattern perfectly suiting the watch’s technical nature. I would also love to see it on a black alligator leather strap, as the UR-120 Space Black has some futuristic dress watch qualities. Compared to the previous version of the UR-120, the all-black treatment most certainly suits the watch as well.
The stealth appearance highlights the intricate satellite mechanism of the UR-120 by the bold colors chosen for the numerals and indexes. It is like looking at the control panel of a starship exploring deep space, boldly going where no human has gone before. That is almost the adopted slogan of Urwerk, as with their passion for the wandering hours and their persistence in exploring and further developing each aspect of it, they have created watches unlike any other.
For more information, please visit www.urwerk.com/collections/ur-satellite/ur-120
Quick Facts Urwerk UR-120 “Space Black”
Case: 47 x 44 x 15.8 mm, stainless steel and titanium with black DLC-treatment
Movement: automatic Caliber UR-20.01 (base movement Zenith Elite), 48-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: satellite hours, minutes
Price: CHF 110,000 (ex.VAT)
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