Since the brand’s inception in 1997, Urwerk has consistently forced us watch lovers to rethink the way that time is indicated on a watch. Evolving from discs and apertures to the satellites that have come to be the signature of the brand, the brilliant minds of Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei are amongst a few independent watchmakers and designers who challenge how watches are built today. Incorporating much of what they have learned to date, the dynamic duo at Urwerk unveil the UR-112 Aggregat, a watch that has to be seen to be believed.
The UR-112 Aggregat is the newest addition to the Urwerk Special Projects collection, and can be described as a watch with a jumping-hour satellite time display – however, that would be an insult to its complexity, and the work that went into creating its form. The watch measures in at 42mm wide, 51mm in length and 16mm in height, and its curious form is almost reminiscent of a futuristic British Mark I tank from its side profile. Crafted from gunmetal grey PVD coated titanium, the case features the time indications at the front of the watch, made visible through cylindrical sapphire crystal. Atop the sapphire crystal domes is the hunter case-esque element in black PVD coated titanium, that is opened through pushers on the side of the case. Underneath the cover is the power reserve indicator on the left displaying its 48 hours of autonomy, and the running seconds disc on the right, that is etched out of a wafer of silicon. Martin Frei states that the UR-112 Aggregat has design cues from the Bugatti Atlantique with its central spine that emphasises symmetry – a bold yet pleasing design choice for this watch.
Housed within the watch is the Calibre UR-13.01, with a curious construction that enables its unique way of telling time. Part of the watch is built conventionally – that is to say, it is built on horizontal layers. To transfer the energy from the main part of the movement that is set horizontally to the time-telling portion of the movement that is set vertically, Urwerk have utilised what is called the “Cardan Shaft” to transfer power from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane. Appearing like the drive shaft in a car, the Cardan Shaft utilises conical gears and a shaft to transmit the power to the hours and minutes section of the movement.
The hours jump in one hour increments, energy for which is accumulated during the rotation of the minutes satellites. At the 60th minute, the energy is released, enabling the switch-over of the hours satellites. The minutes satellites are marked in 5 minute intervals, with minute graduations starting from 0 shown to the right of the minutes satellites, indicating the precise time when added to the number shown on the satellite. This curious time display is one that Urwerk is most famed for, and more incredibly, is powered by a single source of power. Felix Baumgartner states “We nicknamed the watch the Aggregat, because the UR-112 brings different elements together” – a fitting name, given its technicality of its movement and its complex case design.
As such, the UR-112 Aggregat can be seen as the culmination of much of the works of Baumgartner and Frei since the inception of Urwerk. Limited to 25 pieces, it is a celebration of their journey in the watch industry, and how they continue to challenge the notion of a conventional watch. The UR-112 Aggregat is a sign of great things to come from this independent brand, and we cannot wait for future works that further display this duo’s journey in watchmaking and watch design.
UR-112 Aggregat – Bicolore Edition Limited to 25 pieces
Escapement: Swiss Lever-type
Spring: Flat hairspring
Frequency: 4Hz, 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 48 hours
Winding system: Automatic
Materials: Triangular hour and minute prisms in beryllium copper, 8 planetary gears in titanium, silicium seconds disk
Surface finishes: Circular and straight graining, sanding, cotes de Geneve, polished screw heads
Indications: Jumping digital hour on triangular satellite prisms, running digital minute on triangular satellite prisms, digital seconds, power reserve