To know Urwerk from Adam is to turn back the hands of time to nearly 6,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia. It was during the literal dawn of time then, when the Sumerian inhabitants first established units of time based on the shadows cast by its monuments. They divided the daily track of a shadow into 12 parts, creating the basic unit of time – the first crude measures of time that have since evolved into today’s highly sophisticated chronometers.
While the principle patented by the Sumerians remains the same through, well, time, with our days governed by our unwitting orbit around the sun, we would eventually learn of our existence in the universe, where we travel several billions of kilometres through space every year on our rotating planet, at an average speed of 30 kilometres a second.
This journey of ours around the sun is the basis of what makes Urwerk’s timepieces tick, especially with the UR-100 SpaceTime models. The concepts of telling both time (hours and minutes) and space (distance travelled) are merged into one – a space-time measuring unit that has been possible since the late 1800s.
Gustave Sandoz first invented a 19th century pendulum clock for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago; a one-of-a-kind “time machine” that has fallen into the hands of Geri Baumgartner, a renowned clock restorer back in his day, who gave it as a present to his son, none other than the co-founder of Urwerk Felix Baumgartner.
The clock is the final motivation the younger Baumgartner needed to concoct such a futuristic timepiece under Urwerk’s moniker, a name that derived from the German language: “Ur” is translated as “primeval” or “original”, and “werk”, an achievement or a mechanism. While the regulator-style dial of the pendulum clock does not show time, but instead the distance of the Earth’s rotation at the equator, the UR-100 presents three different space-time realities.
The first indicator at 10 o’clock evaluates the distance in kilometres that we have travelled on the Earth, based on the average speed of the rotation of the Earth on its axis at the equator, covering a distance of 555km every 20 minutes; whereas the second, directly opposite at 2 o’clock, the same hand indicates the distance the Earth travels around the sun, spanning some 35,740km every 20 minutes.
These two time measurements are possible with Urwerk’s iconic orbital hour satellites: rather than the red-arrow-tipped minute pointers on the hour satellites disappearing after 60 minutes when replaced by the next, the UR-100 minute arrow passes beneath and between subsidiary dials, reappearing to display the intriguing abovementioned astronomical indications.
Underneath the UR-100’s sapphire crystal dome, Urwerk’s 48-hour power reserve calibre 12.01 movement drives the carousel that carries the hours on the three satellites that travel in succession along the 60-minute scale.
The bi-directional self-winding rotor is governed by a profiled airscrew regulated by a flat turbine, known as the Windfänger (Swiss German for “air trap”). It is responsible for minimising shocks to the rotor bearing, and reducing over-winding and wear and tear.
The UR-100 SpaceTime models are available in Iron (titanium and steel), Black (titanium and steel with black PVD) and GunMetal (Titanium and stainless steel with GunMetal PVD), each model limited to 25 pieces.