The veil has been lifted on an interesting new watch called the “ZR012″, produced by “C3H5N3O9″ which is more commonly known as nitroglycerin, itself more commonly known as the active ingredient in dynamite. Though men behind this watch are quick to call the ZR012 an “experiment” (only 12 pieces will be made), I prefer to (endearingly) call it the love child of Urwerk and MB&F. Whatever the name, it is over the top complicated — but perhaps that is the point — this is a genius watch that further pushes the limits of creativity and what we call “horology”. Urwerk’s Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei conceived of and executed the movement for the ZR012 watch, teaming up with MB&F’s Max Büsser and Serge Kriknoff as well as Eric Giroud (co-creator of the Harry Winston Opus 9, among other horological notorieties) to design the “Zr” (zirconium) case. The design influence/takeaway from Urwerk’s 200 series and the MB&F Thunderbolt case is unmistakable. The movement is, well, complicated. The best part is, this watch is real — you can pre-order yours day (full price 110,000 CHF) and it will be delivered in less than a month. Read on and I promise you’ll learn what a Wankel engine is (you probably already know it by another name).
ZR012 Watch by Urwerk, MB&F and Eric Giroud
55mm x 44mm zirconium case, lugs in titanium
The backstory on this “thing” (is it a “watch”, a “horological machine” or just an “experiment”) is that while Felix Baumgartner and Maximilian Büsser were sharing a pleasant lunch on a Geneva terrace in the summer of 2008, their discussion began a horological chain reaction that four years later manifested as C3H5N3O9 and the ZR012. The company’s website is quick to say that “C3H5N3O9 is an experimental platform, not a luxury brand” though I’m not sure I really understand what this means and I’m not really sure why this piece was created under the MB&F brand or the Urwerk brand. Pardon my laziness as I refer to the brand as “Nitro” from here on.
The ZR012 features something called a “Wankel engine” which is in essence an experimental type of engine dreamt of in 1919 by 19-year old German Felix Wankel. Astute readers have pointed out that the Wankel engine is more commonly known as a rotary combustion engine — such as that widely used by the Mazda Motor Corporation.
Apparently the internal combustion engine proved superior because as far as I know the Wankel engine never went beyond prototype, the first of which was created in 1957. You can read more about the Wankel engine on Nitro’s website page.
Not that I lack the intellectual capacity to understand it (oK, maybe I do), but I’m not going to get into the technicality of this watch right now (perhaps ever), but will instead rely on information provided by Nitro:
At first glance the time appears to be indicated by centrally rotating triangular rotors; however, the triangles are actually Releaux polygons; they rotate eccentrically rather than centrally and track complex epitrochroid curves rather than circles. The system was inspired by the Wankel engine, which features orbital Releaux polygon rotors rather than the reciprocating pistons that power the majority of our cars and machines today.
So let me simplify that for you: Time is by the tips of the Releaux polygon rotors tracing epitrochoid curves. To create the complex shape of the hour and minute epitrochroid curves with the high precision required, 180 separate points were plotted. There is tolerance of just o.2omm between the triangular rotors – the special shape is actually called a Releaux polygon – and the hour and minute marked epitchroids surrounding them. In other words, in the image below, the time is 5:36. Hours are indicated by the lower rotor along the front of the ‘dial’. Minutes are indicated by the smaller upper rotor.
Price of this watch is 110,000- Swiss francs (excluding taxes and post). 33,000- Swiss francs will hold one of the twelve pieces for you via pre-order. Delivery of the first three pieces in 2-3 weeks!
Lots more information — and pre-orders — at: http://www.c3h5n3o9.com/