UR-105 TA: Urwerk’s shield
Under the guilloché cover of its new timepiece, Urwerk has revisited the satellite hours that has seen success over the last 18 years. Here are our first impressions of a hands-on test with the Urwerk Knight.
We are sitting around a tablein one of those magical terraces overlooking Lake Geneva, in Lausanne. The overwhelming heat demands that the meal must be light: a fresh salad prevails over a steak with sauce. The words that spring to mind after this description may well be farniente or holidays. Yet, it is neither for this is in fact a business meal.
New way of displaying time?
“What time is it?” asks one of the guests who is obviously concerned about his agenda. I check the UR-105 TA that I have been wearing only since the morning only to find myself disconcerted by its peculiar display. I check again but without much success and I am approaching the point where I need to decide whether to give it a third try or to provide an answer. I go for the second option: “Around three”. There you go; I said it.
I am wearing a digest of technology, a watch with hand-made finishes that rival the industrial precision of CNC machines, known for their extreme precision in manufacturing components. The watch displays satellite hours, Urwerk’s iconic signature almost since its beginnings. And what have I just done? I have said: “Around three”.
And it’s all because of its creative display, which will take me a little while to figure out: the time can be read via four satellites with three Superluminova-treated indexes that run along the minute track at the dial’s bottom. At the time I am writing this, the number 2 for the hours is on the left and facing the minutes number 59. The hours 3, placed on the next satellite, is well visible on the right, just before the minutes 0. The latter is ready to take over and start its course along the minute track. Whilst slightly confusing at first, one can grow accustomed to it.
Ultimate and expensive materials
I take a closer look at the watch. Just like all of the brand’s other models, it has a nickname. The titanium/steel version is known as the “Urwerk Knight” whilst the two somewhat surprising acid versions are known as “Black Orange” and “Black Lemon”. The watch is also available in an alloy of titanium and red gold.
The impressive 53x40-mm oblong case features a special sapphire glass design and a very unique cut. The whole watch indeed evokes the shield described in the press release and fully accounts for its “Knight” appellation.
Its most striking feature, though, is the guilloché cover in the center of the watch. Its role is to hide the satellites when they are not relevant to time reading whilst revealing bits and pieces of their indexes. It is made of polyetheretherketone which, as I read on Wikipedia, has existed for over 40 years. It is also quite expensive and mostly used for cervical prosthesis. In my opinion, however, it was not only the material’s properties but also its acronym –“PEEK” – that made Urwerk fall for it. Indeed, “peeking” is exactly what the cover allows us to do when it reveals the satellites. To add a nice touch to it all, there is the contrast between the traditional guilloché work and the rather sharp angles of the watch.
Introduced in 2003 and produced for seven years, the UR-103 owes its success to its satellite hours. It was produced in several versions, sometimes set with diamonds and sometimes equipped with a middle made of the same sheeting as that of the Junkers (legendary airplanes which made German aviation live its finest hours). The UR-105 TA houses an updated system: the carrousel is hidden under the satellites which are no longer covered by the interlinking orbital cross. This model is more elegant and its winding is more fluid. The caseback features a lever that controls the resistance of the two turbines and thus determines the winding system that needs to be used – self-winding, manual or an intermediary stage that helps reduce the tension on the barrel spring. Whilst Urwerk had already used this clever system in the past, the elegance and originality of the present technical solution are unprecedented.