Deco New York is clearly visible on Urwerk’s new UR-105 CT.
Time does fly, but it’s still hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since Urwerk set its sails, presenting its first watch at Baselworld. In recognition of this two-decades-long adventure, the company is introducing the UR-105 CT Streamliner. But before I tell you about the watch, there’s an interesting backstory—a people story—that must be shared to give the proper context. It’s about founders Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, who credit the city of New York for inspiring the new watch.
Baumgartner was in Geneva and Frei in New York in 1997, struggling to make Urwerk a viable company, but finding distance and other obstacles causing some misgivings. With this heavy on their minds, Baumgartner, then 22, flew to New York to join his friend, only to find that the city gave the two the much-needed recharge to keep going in their watchmaking quest.
The pair wandered the streets and captured images of New York, with its Art Deco skyscrapers and subways, and it seems that this was a turning point for the company. Urwerk, now well known for its avant-garde designs, went on to almost single-handedly usher in the era of the contemporary independent watch brand.
Thus the new UR-105 CT Streamliner is the duo’s homage to the American Dream that helped kick start the success of the past two decades.
Frei recalls how those early days continue to influence his work.
“The Streamliner has a minimalist design with few frills and clean lines. In the initial drawings, I thought of the Empire State, the Chrysler and the Comcast buildings. That is why it has that vertical structure that seems to go on forever.”
The watch has a unique octagonal shape with deep grooves along its length, and its Art Deco influence is unmistakable. When one slides the catch on the top of the case, a full display comes into view.
“The UR-105 CT is a watch with a flexible design,” says Baumgartner. “When it is closed, it looks austere, with only the time indication visible. Open the protective cover and you delve into a metallic environment that is quite cold, yet you perceive a notion of speed and an effort at efficiency. The Streamliner’s carrousel has been completely redesigned, becoming lighter, stronger and far more effective.”
With a new wandering hour indication, the UR-105 CT’s movement is based on an open-worked carrousel, which has four signature “satellites,” each with three numerals for the hours. The hours sweep past the minutes scale providing an analogue and digital display of the time, and a power reserve indicator and digital seconds (uniquely indicating tens of seconds) are also visible.
Two pneumatic turbines on the back govern the self-winding rate, which is set with a lever. In the FULL position, the slightest movement of the wrist rewinds the barrel spring. The lever is turned to STOP to disengage the self-winding system and wind the watch via the crown. An intermediate position, RED (for reduced), engages the turbines to dampen the winding rotor and avoid overstressing the mainspring of the UR 5.03.
The satellite hours turning on Geneva crosses are in beryllium bronze, while the carrousel is aluminum. The UR-105 CT case (width, 39.5mm; length, 53mm) comes in two versions: titanium and polished steel, and titanium and black PVD-coated steel. Each version is priced at $69,000.