As some of you know I am a big.. No, scratch that – I am a HUGE fan of anything that has words ‘modern’ and ‘watches’ in one sentence. While many of our readers here already know what Urwerk is let me make a brief introduction for the ones who don’t. A brand, created by Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei (two watchmaking geniuses who have been working on a project together) was founded in 1997 and it has introduced a new concept and standard in the world of independent horology. Today Urwerk is mostly recognized for its highly successful projects such as the UR103 or UR110 models, that use satellite hours to show time, while rotating around their own axis and the dial at the same time.
However today my hands-on review will not be about these models. I will be talking about 2 pieces that were developed by Urwerk. Both of them introduce completely new concepts in the world of watchmaking and open up yet another direction to explore for designers and horologists. The first of them being – UR-CC1.
Now you might think the name is too complicated and technical, but actually it has quite a big story behind it. CC stands for Cottier Cobra, because the watch concept was originally designed by a very talented watchmaker of the XXth century – Louis Cottier, who has named the watch Cobra and wanted to introduce the linear way of time-telling, getting the idea from the old instrument panels of American cars. He has sold the design to one of the biggest names in watchmaking – Patek Philippe, but they never got to develop and manufacture the piece. Was it their incapability or was there no desire for experimenting? We don’t know. What we do know is that Urwerk today (or more like in 2010) has finally introduced that original concept paying homage to the creator of the idea.
Before I get to further descriptions and shock you with the price tag in the end I’d like to get it out there immediately – the watch, or should I say, this wild beast on the wrist costs around $300’000. I know it’s a lot of money, so I will just let it sink in and talk about the watch itself. I had a huge pleasure of wearing it for a week, and it turned out to fit the wrist much better than I thought. The case is made of gold and titanium and it measures 53mm in length and 18mm in width. And what at first looks like a digital watch actually is a very complicated mechanical movement (hence the price).
The hours are displayed on the very bottom, going from 1 to 12 and then using the retrograding system jump back and start again. Each hour is a separate line, that appears out of the movement, and so it the minute indicator just above it. As for the minutes I did not get how they work immediately, but when Urwerk said ‘Linear Time’ they meant it literally, as the seconds are indicated with a spiral that while turning shows you the exact time on a linear scale, as well as displaying the right second in a small window.
While there are only 25 of these watches made (and I was wearing the 25/25) it also exists in an all-black version and as a piece unique for Marcus Watches in London, where the indicators are red instead of green. All of the models are automatic and use the special for Urwerk turbine winding system, which give the charge of 39 hours. And the only uncomfortable thing about the watch is actually the crown, which is located on top of the casing and ruins the strap overtime if you don’t adjust the time off your wrist. Overall the watch is really awesome and I am really surprised that in almost 4 years after its creation no one has attempted to create a similar or maybe more advanced version of linear time telling. However it is called CC1 for a reason, let’s hope that Urwerk continues that line of watches.
While I’m sitting and dreaming about another Cobra Urwerk has just released another watch, named EMC. Yet another technical name stands for Electro Mechanical Control, and when the CC1 was originally developed by Cottier credit for this piece goes completely to the Urwerk team, who has designed, created and assembled it all in-house, which is a first by the way.
The watch is a blend of mechanics and electronics. The mechanical side of it is responsible for time telling and power reserve while the electronics that we can see on the case back are there for a sole purpose of increasing time accuracy. I’ve talked already about watch companies trying to invent new ways of being more precise in time telling by using alternatives to tourbillon such as differentials or improved balance wheels, but this is something completely new.
The indicator that you see on the upper left of the dial shows you whether the watch is being accurate up to +-20 seconds, and the process of testing it is activated by the huge winder hand that you can pull out of the case side and rotate. To adjust your time you need to screw a little bolt on the back of the watch and it gets back to perfect. This way you’re never supposed to lose track of real time.
Might I also add that while I’m not the biggest fan of the dial design I really like the back, which is for the first time in Urwerk history open completely! As for the dimensions it is just a little bit smaller that the CC1, being 51mm ‘long’ and 15.8mm thick. The watch is made of a titanium and steel blend, and has the biggest power reserve among all Urwerks – 80 hours. And even though the price exceeds $100’000 it is definitely a must in every Urwerk-fan’s dream collection!
More resources about the Urwerk UR-CC1 and EMC on the Official Urwerk Website.