Baselworld 2013: Urwerk

Jun 02, 2013,13:53 PM

I knew that 2013 would be a very special year for Urwerk. Actually, I had the chance to speak with the Urwerk team in Geneva at the beginning of the year and what they told me was very promising.

So, here it is, Urwerk has just unveiled its very first in-house movement. But I would like to say that's not the main point. After all, the modules created by Felix Baumgartner are so efficient and nicely made that the basic calibers like the Peseux 7001, the GP, the Lajoux-Perret which were (ou are) used play their role without any problem. They are reliable and accurate. So, do we really need an in-house movement?

And of course, with Felix, Martin and the Urwerk team, we could expect something different, something which would go beyond a "mere" caliber...

EMC is a new step in watchmaking. It is the crossroads between two worlds: the worlds of mechanics and of electronics. EMC has the objective to be accurate with a constant behaviour, enjoyable and interactive with the owner of the watch which will use it.

Of course, using an electronics device in a movement can be seen as controversial. But be careful: the electronics device brings an additional feature and doesn't play any role in the pure movement working.

The most surprising point about EMC is the capability for Urwerk, a small company, to produce by itself a large part of the components including the ARCAP balance wheel. 2 barrels provide the suitable torque + a power reserve of 80 hours (with a 4hz frequency). The ARCAP material has non-magnetic and anti-corrosion properties. But it also has the same coefficient of thermal expansion than nickel what gives the ability to use the same type of spiral than with a "classic" movement.

That's in a very few words for the pure mechanical part. But how does the electronics one play its role?

You have to understand that you can finely adjust the balance rate regulator by changing the active length of the spiral thanks to the timing adjustement screw accessible on the back of the watch. Question is: how can I adjust the balance rate regulator if I don't know the accuracy of the watch? That's the purpose of the electronics part of EMC.

The electronics monitoring system is made of:

- An optical sensor on the balance wheel that can capture the precise rate of the 4hz oscillation

- A 16,000,000-hertz electronic oscillator that provides an extremely precise reference rate.

- An artificial intelligence module capable of calculating the difference between the timing rate of the movement and that of the reference oscillator.

Actually, you need to give the power to the system in order that it can display this difference.

You use a small crank to give power to the generator. Once done, you can press the start button and a "classic display", with a small hand, will give you this difference. With the adjustement screw, you are now able to finely adjust the accuracy.

As you can see, EMC is a bit similar in its spirit than the turbines of some automatic movements used by Urwerk. The owner of the watch can influence the winding efficiency on the UR-202... and this winding efficiency can be displayed on the UR-210.

Interactivity is a key word for Urwerk and EMC is another proof that Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei love this concept. A watch is a living object which reacts, which is influenced by the owner's behaviour.

I also have to make a very important comment: even the electronics components are assembled by the watchmaker.

Now that EMC is unveiled, we have to discover the first watch which will use it. We expect to discover it in September/October and I have to confess that I'm very excited.

Of course, we can also imagine in the future the use of EMC without the electronics feature as a base for movements. But again, these ideas of interactivity and of... fun are so inherent to the EMC creation process that I can't imagine it without.

Visually speaking, EMC is a very contemporary movement. If we forget the good old incabloc, almost everything seems to be rarely seen in a movement.

The most unusual part is obviously the strange arm which creates the link between the regulating organ and the fine tuning system.

So, now we know the engine... and let's wait several months to discover the body around!

In the meantime, before discovering the watch which will use EMC, Urwerk presented a new version of the UR-110, the UR-110 PTH.

This watch features a platinum bezel like the UR-110 PT but they are aesthetically opposite.

The UR-110 PT is a bright watch while the UR-110 PTH has a much darker atmosphere. Moreover, the red colour used for this watch makes it more aggressive.

UR-110 PTH:

UR-110 PT:

If I let my heart make the choice between them, without any hesitation, I go for the UR-110 PT. Why?

Because the dark atmosphere hides, in my point of view, too many details on the front side of the watch and I love to see the revolving satellites... they are almost fading here. Moreover, I'm not a fan of the black & red combo.

The usual turbines of the UR-110 and as you know, you can't influence their winding efficiency here even if they are active:

The UR-110 PTH on the wrist. Due to its dark atmosphere, the watch looks a bit smaller than the UR-110 PT.

Two different styles, two opposite ways to enjoy the UR-110.

I would like to thank a lot the Urwerk team for the warm welcome during the Basel fair.


More posts: UR-110UR-210Urwerk

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Thanks Don! [nt]

 By: foversta : June 4th, 2013-13:32

How exactly are the electronics being powered?

 By: amerix : August 28th, 2013-12:46
Somehow I missed that along the way. amerix

Mechanical is powered by overlaid twin barrel and electronic by a simple crank....

 By: Hororgasm : August 28th, 2013-12:59
From handling it takes about 10-15 full turns of the crank to full "charge" a power capacitor, like a dynamo. Will try to write something and live pictures tomorrow. It's 4am here in Singapore :) Best, Horo

Thanks, Horo, much obliged!

 By: amerix : August 28th, 2013-13:49
I remember the problems with Vianney's prototype of the Cabestan and where to place the crank without it getting lost. Sure, in the strap with a chain, but ... that sounds more like a pocket watch. So my curiosity is aroused. At least there is no battery ...