New Release: Urwerk UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ Boldly Travels Further into our Solar System
by Martin Green
The UR-100 collection has always been very important to Urwerk. They have used it as a way to travel in time and space, showing the versatility of what is in essence a very expressive design. You could call the UR-100V Urwerk’s equivalent to an ordinary round watch, as among all its collections, this is the one that comes the closest.
Granted, the UR-102 Reloaded comes even closer, but that is a re-edition of Urwerk’s very first creation, and although historically significant, this collection is not yet as extensive as that of the UR-100.
With the UR-100, Urwerk explored the past, like with the ‘Time and Culture’ editions, as well as the UR-100V T-Rex, but just as often was it used to explore the future. In that sense, is the new UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ an extension to this universe, and quite literally, because, as you have probably already guessed by its name, it is all the speed of light as beams shoot through our galaxy.
Doing things differently
It is tempting to say that Urwerk thinks out of the box when it comes to the concept, design, and engineering of its watches; however, Urwerk has never even been in the box. Since their very first model, they have done things differently and only walked on the sound of their own drums. The UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ has a very unique complication, as it is in a way a sort of planetarium.
While most brands approach this in a more traditional way, and usually show how these heavenly bodies move around the sun, Urwerk came up with something entirely different. It has a unique complication in which it shows the time required for a sunbeam to reach each of the eight planets in our solar system.
When you argue the practical use of this complication, you clearly are not getting the purpose of the UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’. It shows the speed of light in a way, a poetic complication. It makes you think, it makes you realize how vast our own solar system is, and as humankind, we need a serious leap in technology will we ever be able to explore it properly, let alone venture further into the galaxy.
As Felix Baumgarter explains, “We live in a universe governed by three dimensions—time, rotation, and orbit—that we attempt to measure and master, but what escapes us is this notion of SpaceTime.”
A ray of sunlight needs 8.3 minutes to reach the Earth, Saturn takes a whopping 79.3 minutes. While most will accept that time as a commute to work, the numbers rise quickly as we go to the two furthest planets in our solar system. For Uranus, a ray of sunlight needs 159.6 minutes to reach it, but for Neptune it is 4.1 hours. This is especially humbling when you realize that the speed at which light travels is 299, 792, 458 meters per second (roughly 186,000 miles per second).
While many science fiction books and (tv) shows have spaceships traveling at the speed of light, and sometimes even faster, it is quite unlikely that you will ever take your UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ on such a travel, as it would require an infinite amount of energy.
Getting down to earth
In that case, you will now be better off enjoying the passing of time, which sometimes also feels like it is going at the speed of light, but that is another matter. The UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ also doesn’t need infinite energy to run, as the motion of your wrist powers it.
When looking at the back of the UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ we see a familiar sight with a slightly different twist. Through a sapphire insert in the caseback, we get to admire the oscillating weight governed by the prominently visible Windfänger airscrew.
While some might be disappointed that the oscillating weight blocks nearly the entire view of the refined movement below it, I always considered this the far more fabulous-looking option. It is one of the elements that make Urwerk, Urwerk, and it allows them to add yet another exciting aspect to the watch. In this case, they choose an intricate motif that represents the sun, as a reference to the speed of light, and the concept of how long light has to travel from the sun to the eight planets of our solar system.
Urwerk also made good use of its hallmark wandering hours way of telling time. Satellites marked with the hours move along a scale telling the minutes. At the end of the hour, another arm with satellites takes over, and that’s how time is told. As the satellites also rotate themselves, they can display the twelve hours with just three of them.
This also means that Urwerk only uses less than half of the watch’s potential room to tell time. With the UR-100V ‘Time and Culture’ editions, it covered up most of the satellite construction to make room for intricate engravings. For the UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’ this space is cleverly used to honor the complication. It makes it not only easy to read but also makes it so that you interact with the watch more actively.
Red and black
All this makes you almost overlook the fact that Urwerk also did something very cool with the case of the UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’. The case is made from a 54-layer ThinPly black carbon that is then machined into the complex shape of the case of the UR-100V. The beauty of this material is that it shows a pattern of lines where it is cut.
Additionally, it is a material that is not only strong but also light. While very restrained in appearance, it goes perfectly with this very technical complication.
Perhaps that is also why Urwerk chose to fit it with a red strap of textured rubber. While it goes nicely with the arrow that indicates the minutes and the 60 that marks the end of the hour, it feels a bit too much for my taste. It is almost as if Urwerk is courting entrepreneur and watch collector Kevin O’Leary, also known as ‘Mr.Wonderful,’ who is known for fitting all his watches with such a red-colored strap.
I would lean towards a fabric strap made from the same material as space suits. As we are talking here about a strap that can easily be arranged and doesn’t count as a deal breaker on a captivating Urwerk that brings an entirely new complication to life.
For more information, please visit https://www.urwerk.com/collections/ur-satellite/ur-100v
Quick Facts Urwerk UR-100V ‘Lightspeed’
Case: 41 x 51.73 x 14.55 mm, black carbon and DLC-coated titanium caseback
Movement: automatic Caliber UR12.02, 48-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency with Windfänger winding regulator system
Functions: satellite hours, minutes; time required for a sunbeam to reach eight of the planets in the solar system.
Price: CHF 65,000
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