A pioneer of modern, independent watchmaking since the late 1990s, Urwerk founders Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner have long used their unique, creative sensibilities to rebel against traditional conservative Swiss watchmaking norms. The result? Larger-than-life timepieces influenced by science fiction that can easily be recognized across a room and are typically priced over six figures.
Those brand-defining elements, however, were streamlined and overhauled in the fall of 2019, when Urwerk unveiled the first UR-100, a back-to-basics model that belied its visual complexity with what most consider to be the brand’s most wearable case design ever. More importantly, its price tag under $ 60,000 opened up a new entry-point to the Urwerk universe. Six watches and 19 months later, we now have the latest version of the UR-100 to show you, which carries forward the same satellite-disc time display system Urwerk is known for inside the wearable UR-100 profile – but now, it’s executed in an all-blue motif. The Urwerk UR-100V “Blue Planet” is limited to just 25 pieces and is available now in the HODINKEE Shop.
Urwerk doesn’t do anything in moderation – one reason we like the brand so much. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Urwerk hopped on the blue bandwagon, the result was anything but a simple color swap. Nearly every aspect of the UR-100V is new in blue, including flame-blued screws and the blue PVD-coated titanium and steel case. The aluminum carousel is matte dark blue, and so are the three pyramids and multiple bridges that make up the time display. One of the few non-blue elements? The fluorescent yellow and green arrowhead hands that Urwerk says represent shooting stars.
That brings us back to the UR-100V’s given name: “Blue Planet.” Urwerk is no stranger to pulling from the world of science fiction for its watches (remember the yellow-gold UR-100 ostensibly inspired by C-3P0?), but the UR-100V’s name hits a little closer to home. Frei and Baumgartner cite a handful of sources they pulled from in designing the UR-100V, including Giotto’s blue skies and a unique heat treatment technique pioneered by Baumgartner’s father – a prestigious watchmaker in his own right – that utilizes Corsican sand and can be found on the UR-100V’s tempered blue screws. But the real inspiration is in the name. Planet Earth, that one-of-a-kind blue marble in the sky.
Blue is a color that surrounds us, that encompasses us.
MARTIN FREI, CHIEF DESIGNER AND CO-FOUNDER, URWERK
It’s fitting that this naming convention has been realized in the UR-100 series, which if you remember from our previous coverage features a pair of unique astronomical displays alongside the traditional hour and minutes.
Time is, of course, indicated by the three numerical pyramids that gradually pass one-by-one over the minute track, visible in the lower portion of the dial (the time reads 10:13 in the above wrist shot). But it’s what happens after each hand has finished telling the time that makes the UR-100 so horologically – and astronomically – compelling. After an hour has passed, the hand that was actively displaying the time disappears under a large shield and a new hand starts at the zero marker to indicate the beginning of another hour.
The original hand reappears after a few moments in a small opening to indicate the first celestial complication: the distance the Earth rotates on its axis. Located between where nine and 11 o’clock would be on a traditional watch display, this 20-minute scale highlights the 555km its wearer would travel in rotation if they were standing on the equator. At the same time the original hand is undergoing this measurement, a third hand is at work on the opposite side, near what would traditionally be the two o’clock position on the dial. This third hand calculates the distance the Earth has traveled along its orbit around the Sun, approximately 35,740km every 20 minutes.
It’s fitting, then, that Urwerk’s Blue Planet can tell you not only what time it is on our own blue planet, but also the distance it turns on its axis and how far it travels along its orbit over time. In its new, all-blue hue, we think Urwerk’s “Blue Planet” is the most compelling interpretation of the UR-100 series yet.
Limited to just 25 pieces, the Urwerk UR-100V “Blue Planet” is priced at $ 53,000 and is available to purchase now in the HODINKEE Shop.