Launched in 1997, Urwerk can celebrate 20 years as a pioneer on the independent watchmaking scene. With production of 150 watches a year, Urwerk is an artisan brand where traditional skills and avant-garde design go together in the best of all possible worlds. Urwerk creates complex, contemporary timepieces unlike any other that meet the most exacting standards in Fine Watchmaking: independent research and creation, cutting-edge materials and hand-finishing.
Back in the 1990s, Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner embarked on the creation of their first model, the UR-101 which displays time on an arc, replicating the path of the sun across the sky. The stage was set. Next came the 103 with satellite hours, and the major challenge of ensuring these satellites rotate smoothly, despite being 160 times heavier than a conventional hour hand. The 200 introduced a new take on the satellite complication. In addition to satellite hours, transporters, cams and jewels ensure that telescopic hands adjust their length with absolute precision to align with the minute scale. For the next collection, the 110, three arrow-head pointers home in on the arc-shaped minutes. The hour satellites remain in a strictly parallel formation as they revolve - an exploit made possible by an architecture with three levels of complexity. Following this was the 210, in which the satellite complication is joined by a totally astonishing, never-before-seen retrograde minute hand – one of the biggest ever. Today, the 105 takes centre-stage. It gives shape to years of research by Urwerk into wandering hours mechanisms. The ingenuity lies in the invisible carousel that is fitted under the satellite structure. "Bringing out yet another version of an existing mechanical complication was not our aim," says Felix Baumgartner. "Our watches are unique because each has been conceived as an original work." Martin Frei, who develops the aesthetic signature of each model, echoes this sentiment: "I'm not cast in the watchmaking mould, so I can draw my inspiration from my entire cultural heritage."