Caressing the light, flirting with it at every chamfer and bevel: Introducing the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

Caressing the light, flirting with it at every chamfer and bevel: Introducing the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

Editor’s note: This is a Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron watch. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here. Today’s watch information is brought with the grateful assistance of URWERK & The Hour Glass Sydney.

“The importance of colour is nothing compared with that of form, chiaroscuro and arrangement. They are the true and enduring bases of pictorial art,” once said Walter J. Phillips, the famed Canadian painter who is credited with popularising the colour woodcut in the style of the Japanese.As we review this watch, you will see how the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron is a sort of testament to this sentiment, where the watch has been delicately finished by hand and the extensive use of colours has been replaced by the subtle chiaroscuro of polished, matt, sanded and shot-peened surfaces.

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

What is it: The new Urwerk UR-100V Iron in a 41 x 49.7mm diameter monochromatic steel and titanium case. It offers a 48-hour power reserve, features the in-house calibre UR 12.02, and retails for CHF 48’000 (sans taxes)

Why: Because sometime larger than life timepieces can do with shedding away all pretences and embrace the naked beauty of the hand-finished case. And because one can never get enough of Urwerk’s trademark satellite configuration of the wandering hours and minutes where the wearer can also witness the distance he will travel in 20 minutes if he was standing on the equator of our rotating planet and can also track his journey through space around the sun. Pretty rad, huh?!

When released: November 11, 2020

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Where: Global release in limited numbers of 25-pieces only, and while this particular timepiece may not be currently available to see in person yet, there are other similarly mesmerising Urwerk novelties that can be see at The Hour Glass Sydney boutique at 142 King St

Who is it for: For the lovers of the brand, for the watch connoisseur who is also a space buff and likes to wear something rather unique and also ‘alien’. Also, for the existing owners of the brand’s timepieces who would like a more understated and subtle timepiece that harps back to many of Urwerk’s earlier timepieces such as the inclusion of the steel dome of their early models but in a re-interpreted version in the form of a transparent sapphire crystal. 

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

How does it do: Same same but different. Look, when you have a good thing going, why alter? The release of the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron in my opinion is not about releasing a novelty but rather an evolution, a sort of quest to perfection if you may. And here it scores, big. 

I have said this before in one of our earlier reviews and I will say it again; there is no such thing as a typical watch when it comes to Urwerk’s range of offerings. The new Urwerk UR-100V Iron is no exception, but comes with a difference compared to their recent UR-100 GunMetal or the UR-100 Gold. It may be as futuristic as them, and while it still has its design seeds sown in the brand’s SpaceTime models, the newest member sets itself apart due to two main aspects: one, the in-house updated movement (and we will look into it in detail a bit later) and the simplified aesthetics that also includes the redesign of the carousel carrying the wandering hours on three satellites.

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UR-100 GunMetal
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Space and time go hand in hand. At any given time, humans are moving in space. We can thank Albert Einstein for somewhat figuring this out. Urwerk with the UR-100V Iron takes the essence of this concept and puts it on your wrist.

Missing: Being in a somewhat lightweight steel and titanium case, I was hoping for it to be with slightly modified and in more daily wearable smaller dimensions, but it still retains the UR-100 Gold’s width of 41mm, length of 49.7mm and height of 14mm. Also, again from the perspective of actually wearing a watch, a slightly increased 50m water-resistance would be welcome. 

Personally, I am still in love with the Star Wars Saga inspired Urwerk UR-100 GOLD « C-3PO ». It was a complicated wrist machine that symbolically trailed our journey into the galaxies far, far away. For any avid collector or a Star Wars buff, it’s hard to beat the charm of that space time travel inspired timepiece. Again limited to only 25 pieces — and costing a higher 58’000 CHF sans taxes or 60’000 USD owing to the gold case — that was our chance to have a personal C-3PO. 

The new Urwerk UR-100V Iron is a good follow up to it but if I had the means, I would have personally preferred the earlier version.

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UR-100 GOLD « C-3PO »
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The Mind 

Urwerk has been using outsourced Zenith base movements — self-winding calibre Zenith Elite — for the UR-100 timepieces and I am glad to note that at this price point, they have transitioned towards in-house calibres. The new Urwerk UR-100V Iron features the calibre UR 12.02 — the UR-100 GOLD had the previous generation UR 12.01 —  which is a mechanical automatic winding movement with a bi-directional self-winding rotor that is governed by a profiled airscrew known as the Windfänger. 

URWERK’s proprietary Windfänger system with helical and planetary gearing prevents the winding system from being overloaded by limiting the speed of rotation of the rotor which in turn minimises both excessive winding and wear and also maximises reliability and lifespan. 

In layman terms, through the caseback you can see the their planetary-turbine automatic system where the rotor of the movement turns once and a turbine has been introduced that turns six times in the same duration to absorb the shocks from daily wear by creating friction and thereby protecting the long term life of the rotor.

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A similar case-back of the UR-100 GOLD « C-3PO »
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The movement shows the following indications of satellite hours and minutes, rotational distance at the equator in 20 minutes, and orbital distance in 20 minutes and is nicely decorated with circular graining and sanding, shot peening, chamfered screw heads, and hours and minutes painted in SuperLumiNova for high legibility. 

It is very similar to the UR-111C TT reviewed here and the UR-100 Gunmetal and UR-100 Gold. All of these beat at the same frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 V/h), feature a water resistance of only 30m (3 ATM) and the same 48 hours power reserve. The number of jewels in the new calibre are very slightly higher by one jewel compared to UR-100 GOLD and the GunMetal version — now 40 jewels — but feature an increase of three compared to the UR-111C TT.

If the specifications are so similar, why design a new movement? The one half of Urwerk, the watchmaker Felix Baumgartner has the answer: “This new movement enabled a redesign of the carousel, bringing the hours closer to the minutes as they travel in succession along the 60-minute scale. The result is an easier and more intuitive reading of the time”. 

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

The Body 

The movement is encased inside an overall bold, big and octagonal watch made from a mixture of polished, matt, sanded and shot-peened surfaces that complement the monochromatic steel and titanium case that measures in at an unusual width 41mm x length 49.7mm x thickness 14mm.

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

The redesigned carousel, as well as the structure on top of the hours, are forged from anodised aluminium then sanded and shot-blasted, while the satellite screws are each circular sanded. The satellites rest on a carousel of sanded brass plated in ruthenium. The structure on top of the hours display is in sanded and shot-blasted aluminium.

The timepiece is available on a blue Alacantra strap with a titanium buckle and for those who wish to see this on an integrated metal bracelet just like the UR-210S, you might have to wait as that’s not happening anytime soon as per the Urwerk team as with smaller production numbers, it’s hard for them to produce these (thank you to Wei Koh from Revolution who asked this question to the founders at a recent media get together which we were also a part of). 

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UR-210S

Answers Sought 

There were a few other things we learnt at this get together which were very relevant in getting a better idea of the avant-garde brand.  

Another thing of interest we learnt at this scrum, is that as a collection, the UR-100 is meant to be a “smaller, flatter watch” that is conceived in a way to form a bridge between Urwerk’s past and present. And this is something that appeals to me personally as architect as design wise, the UR-100 family features a deconstructed case where the idea is to go back to the basics, back to the very beginning even before the UR-102 was released, back when they first started out in the 90s.

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The Urwerk UR-100 family is also a bi-product of the various demands that the brand has received from their collectors to re-introduce the UR-101 and UR-102. And rather than simply doing that, they decided to invent a completely new collection that retains the basic beginning ideas of Urwerk minimalistic features of the previous collections. And when it comes to the latest iteration, the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron, the challenges were in the finishes, the colours and the materials used. One of the most amazing parts of the new release is that all the finishes have been done by hand in-house for the first time.

We also wanted to find out about Urwerk’s future plans – the brand in the past has collaborated with Maximilian Büsser, first with the Opus 5 at Harry Winston and then with the 2012’s Experiment ZR012. Urwerk has also collaborated for the Naissance d’une Montre 2 timepiece. Given they have a history of collaborations, we pressed them to find out about any future ones and were delighted that they let us in on an upcoming project that is a collaboration piece with a research company in Switzerland for the next edition of the ‘Only Watch’. 

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

The Soul 

To sum this review up, in essence, the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron is essentially the same as their previous UR-100 collection family timepieces, with the few changes as explained above. 

The new Urwerk UR-100V Iron is an excellent evolution rather than a revolution. And give they only make 25-pieces or so at a time for a release, and only about 150-pieces n total each year, can ya blame them? 

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The idea behind the existence of this watch series — starting with the UR-100 GunMetal — is that humans orbit around the sun through time (at an average speed of 30 kilometres a second) and this watch is meant to depict that. When the minute hand on the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron has completed its 60-minute journey, it reappears on a 20-minute scale of 555 kilometres. This is the distance mankind would travel in 20 minutes standing on the equator of our rotating planet. The opposite scale tracks the journey through space around the sun: 35’740km every 20 minutes. 

Overall, the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron boasts of a much more clean, pristine appearance and to get back to the Star Wars theme we mentioned earlier, it’s as if the UR-100 has switched sides from the dark side to the light side of the force. 

In terms of the minimal colour ways, it’s also very American flag reminiscent, given it’s use of red, blue and white/grey. And this may not be planned by the brand, but I reckon the timing is very spot on with the recent US elections and the focus on red and blue. 

new Urwerk UR-100V Iron

Urwerk as a brand that is notorious for not making traditional looking watches, is the king of space themed watches. Say what you may about their polarising designs, but in a mundane sea of dive watches, their offerings truly cover new shores. The Urwerk UR-100V Iron is a complicated wrist machine that symbolically trails our journey into the solar system. For an avid collector and a space buff, it would be hard to resist the appeal of this watch.

Personally, even though I don’t see myself adding these to my collection anytime soon — one, I don’t have the finances and two, I am more of a traditional dress watch — read Cartier — or a simple tool watch — read Omega — kinda guy, I can definitely see the charm and the relevance of these futuristic timepieces by Urwerk. They are definitely bound to add a great deal of flair to any collection.

“No one can live in the light all the time,” said the American writer Libba Bray. The way the hand finished body of the new Urwerk UR-100V Iron caresses the light, flirting with it at every chamfer and bevel, playing huddle and seek under the influence of the light, is simply a sight to behold. 

To find out more about this and other URWERK timepieces, please head to their website here or visit their authorised retailer The Hour Glass at 142 King St, Sydney (02 9221 2288). All images unless otherwise stated are © 2019 URWERK – All rights reserved. 

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