The New Urwerk UR-203
Urwerk is known to produce complicated pieces with interesting takes on the ways we tell time. Since the introduction of their UR-103 collection Urwerk has used a method of satellite discs to display the hour and minutes. Expanding on that idea, and using a design they first introduced in the Harry Winston Opus V, Felix Baumgartner (co-founder and master watchmaker) and Martin Frei (co-founder and chief designer) unveiled the 200 collection which uses a series of turning cubes on a rotating carousel to show the hour and telescoping hands that emerge from those cubes to display the minutes as they passed by. Since their introduction, the team at Urwerk have been modifying those wildly popular collections offering new variations to would be buyers.
In late January, during a special introduction event in Geneva, Urwerk took their next step while proudly unveiling the UR-203. At first glance the UR-203 looks somewhat similar to its brother, the 202; sporting the same aggressively designed geometric case and similar rotating carousel with flipping display cubes. Upon closer inspection you see that Felix and Martin spent some time stripping down the design to its bare minimum. Skeletonizing the carousel and using an ARCAP P40 stable non-ferrous and non-magnetic alloy, not only giving the observer an inside look of how the display mechanism operates but also reducing the weight of the carriage by 65%; which now weighs a mere 3.57 grams.
Urwerk also introduced two new indicators on the dial that appear to be a first for any brand. Tucked away in the corners under the crystal are the “Oil Change” and “150 Years Horological Odometer” displays. The oil change indicator slowly moves along eventually informing its wearer that the movement needs to be serviced, which is every three years per the manufacturer’s recommendations. On the opposite side the “odometer” displays how long the movement has been operating, with an ultimate display of 150 years. With obvious inspiration from an automobile, some could see these features as something of an unneeded gimmick, but they fit well enough into the dial design that I don’t think they distract from the functionality, or overall style of the watch.
Regarding the development of the UR-203 Felix Baumgartner explains “This UR-203 is a wild idea of Martin Frei“, he continues. “Martin imagined a stripped down model distilled to its pure essence. We had to start again at the beginning to develop this model, we sat down at the drawing board and completely reconsidered the satellite module. The horological challenge with this complication was to develop a complex mechanism with the minimum of components to ensure its reliability and longevity.”
Those familiar with the UR-202 will recognize the automatic movement that uses mini turbines to regulate its winding in the new 203, but it has been tweaked a bit hence what powers the UR-203 is a new Caliber, the UR 7.03. The UR-203 will have a very limited production run of only 20 pieces all in a black PE-CVD coated platinum case micro-sanded with a titanium back plate.
This one is sure to draw some attention at the up and coming 2010 watch fairs.