The Urwerk UR-102 “GAÏA” Only Watch 2021 Is A Pebble From The Past Zooming Into The Future
Editor’s note: For nearly a decade now we have curiously anticipated the Only Watch Auction. The 2021 edition doesn’t disappoint! While watches earlier this year had a green theme, this year’s Auction watches seem to have an orange theme. Following the releases from Watches & Wonders 2021, today we present the Urwerk UR-102 “GAÏA” Only Watch 2021. Here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…). For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Ready for take-off, old meets new, heritage meets future in the Urwerk UR-102 “GAÏA” Only Watch 2021. To call the UR-102 “GAÏA” a new watch won’t be completely accurate. It is after all, an almost 25-year old watch, repackaged.
Back in 1997 when Urwerk was a team of three, they released the spaceship-inspired UR-102 in limited numbers of 25. These watches were in low-cost titanium but had platinum backs. You may relate this as the idea of a bridge between the poor and rich if you may: “common metal aluminium (merged) with the nobility of platinum.
Complementing the space and futuristic aesthetics was the wandering hour complication running on a semi-circular minute track that was powered by a modified-ETA movement, the calibre UR-102 (that beats at 4Hz frequency and provides 42-44 hours of power reserve).
Exceptionally rounded, the original watch’s profile from the side looked like a pebble, but with a display aperture that gave it a spaceship appearance. This 38mm aluminium timepiece was made in a dull grey-blue colour with matt treatment, and was a much more simplistic idea compared to their present designs of what the brand construed to be futuristic.
The brand have taken one of these 25 pieces and transformed them into a more contemporary piece, mostly due to the presence of sandblasted anodised aluminium and a different case-back treatment. Think of it in this way: if you are one of the few who already have this 1997 timepiece, then all that’s different is some aesthetic modifications to the existing watch.
Of course the way these mods — case middle and lugs in anodised aluminium; screw-down caseback in circular satin-brushed platinum; Gaïa logo filled with glittering hand-applied blue lacquer — have been conducted elevate the appeal of the watch, and that case-back now looks way more stunning that merely a mostly-blank piece of platinum plate.
The watch comes in much more wrist-friendly dimensions compared to some of their newer work of 38 x 12mm, is water-resistant to 50m, and comes on a black Baltimora strap.
It is being released for the Only Watch 2021 auction. 54 brands are participating this year for the 9th edition — the first one was in 2005 — of the biennial charity auction Only Watch, whose aim is to raise funds for research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The auction in collaboration with Christie’s is on 6 November 2021, at 2pm (Geneva time), at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues.
To release it now also makes for perfect timing, given only last year the brand won the coveted Prix Gaïa trophy awarded by the International Museum of Horology in Switzerland. The Urwerk UR-102 “GAÏA” Only Watch 2021’s case-back is a take on the award’s trophy design and features a blue-lacquer motif.
Just like the watch is designed as a spaceship, this motif features speckles that depict stars, and the watch essentially is a spaceship or pebble hurling through space.
It is estimated to go between CHF 32’000 – 75’000 and given it’s a watch that was first created when the brand was unknown and now represents a time when they have just won the Prix Gaïa trophy, the watch ends up being symbolic of the brand’s success story.
This pebble ends up being a foundation stone of sorts on which the brand’s success has reached new heights. The nomenclature also works in its favour, given GAÏA was in ancient Greek mythology ‘mother earth’ and just like how mother earth gives birth to everything, so did the brand’s UR-102 (and UR-101) gave brith to its legacy.
And for any Urwerk collector, it is a golden opportunity to own an offering that sees the brand come full circle.
To find out more about the Urwerk UR-102 “GAÏA” Only Watch 2021 and other auction timepieces, please head to the ONLY WATCH 2021 collection website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © 2021 URWERK – All rights reserved. All basic information Copyright © Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies. Make sure to check out our reviews of Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.