Everything is a question of style, no more so than in the world of haute horlogerie.
If engineering ingenuity remains the quickest way into a watch aficionado’s heart, nothing can replace that feeling of setting eyes on a mechanical masterpiece for the very first time, that sensation of horological love at first sight. Connoisseurs have already been wooed by the technical innovation of URWERK’s 110 collection, presented until now in either monochromatic natural titanium or anthracite. Now the UR-110 affirms its presence and expresses itself as never before thanks to the UR-110 TTH – with a super strong Tantalum hull – and the UR-110 ST – with a distinctively grooved AlTiN bezel. Whether you prefer it strong and rugged or smooth and refined, there is a UR-110 style for you.
The UR-110 TTH
More robust than its stablemates, the UR-110 TTH is an imposing timepiece that commands respect from the very first glance. Why? Well, just as a vessel derives its strength from an unbreakable hull, the UR-110 derives its strength from its bezel crafted in tantalum, a particularly hard and dense metal, well known for resistance to corrosion and for its bio-inertness. Indeed, the TTH stands for “Tantalum Hull”. Naturally, the sapphire crystal of the UR-110 TTH has also been upgraded.
The armoured bezel of the UR-110 TTH boasts a thickness of 4.10mm (as opposed to 2.40mm on other UR-110 models). This huge piece, attached to the titanium case by six screws, gives it a battle-hardened character reinforced by the bluish-gray tint of the natural tantalum. Another feature with quasi-military overtones is the registration number etched on the sapphire crystal of the UR-110 TTH at 8 o’clock. Tantalum is a rare metal of which the name comes from Tantalus, a Greek mythological figure synonymous with temptation, explains URWERK co-founder and chief watchmaker Felix Baumgartner. We therefore naturally succumbed to its charms! Its colour is such that we decided to use it in its natural state while satin-finishing and sand-blasting helped to enhance the natural beauty of this intriguing material.
The UR-110 ST
The UR-110 ST sees URWERK continuing to embrace three-dimensionality in horological architecture. It is a model that well and truly appeals to the tactile senses, for it can even reveal itself when your eyes are closed. Run the tips of your fingers over its dial, and you will feel the perfect smoothness of the sapphire crystal soon replaced by grooves in the AlTiN bezel. Such a sensorial experience is just what URWERK co-founder and artist-designer Martin Frei wanted to create for the UR-110 ST’s owner.
A watch worn on a daily basis should be a source of pleasure – the primal pleasure of possession, naturally, but also the pleasure of the experience of it on the wrist, he says. There is a quote I like from French poet and diplomat Paul Claudel: ‘Sculpture is the need to touch.’ I very much hope the UR-110 ST creates this need.
Having won the 2011 Grand Prix de Genève prize for Best Design Watch, the UR-110 is at the forefront of watchmaking excellence, continuing URWERK’s radical tradition of telling the time using orbiting satellite complications.
In the UR-110 TTH and the UR-110 ST, the time is always shown on the right side of the watch. Three hour satellites follow a vertically arced line, graded from 0 to 60 minutes, in a downward motion. Planetary gearing keeps the satellites and their arrow-shaped “torpedoes” in parallel formation as they take turns to indicate the time as they pass the 60-minute track. This performance is made possible by means of an architecture featuring three levels of complexity:
A central carousel providing the complication with stability and equilibrium Planetary gearing assuring the parallel rotation of the three hour satellites as they orbit the dial The three counter-rotating hour modules – each comprising an hour satellite, minute hand and counter balance – are each mounted on a planetary gear. These three modules are in constant counter-rotation to counter the direction of rotation of the central carousel.
The ingenuity of the layout lies in allowing the wearer to view the time discreetly and elegantly without the need to pull a cuff or sleeve back.
The UR-110’s technology can be appreciated through the large panoramic sapphire crystal. As well as indicating the hours and minutes, the UR-110 also features a Control Board on the dial side with indicators for “Day/Night” and "Oil Change" – URWERK's service interval display – as well as small seconds on a sub dial. Turning the watch over, the titanium back encloses the innovative automatic winding system regulated by dual turbines.
The 110 collection is a natural evolution of our creations, says Martin frei. We imagined a kind of ‘silent journey’. Our hour satellite makes a complete rotation of the dial, but it is an understated revolution as it moves slowly. Between rotation and counter-rotation, the effect is subtle. There is something happening on the dial which is not detectable at first glance, not natural, but the fluidity gives the appearance of normality.
The development of the 110 collection has mobilised our entire team for nearly two years, says Felix Baumgartner. There have been many challenges, including finding the perfect adjustment between the carousel and the central hours of the mobile modules. We finally opted for a technical solution radically different from our other creations. There is no ball bearing here, but a fixed axis running along the entire height of the watch. The whole satellite complication is in perfect balance on that anchor point.