5 minutes on the wrist - The URWERK UR-1001 Titan
The first time I saw the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan I tried to understand what it was. Two minutes later, I tried to think of what else the ingenious madness of Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner could come up with. This time machine has the same meaning of a hypercar among the traditional product portfolio of a sports car maker: a Titan is to a UR what a Veneno Roadster is to a Huracàn.
The Urwerk UR-1001 Titan could easily be integrated into the Veneno's central dashboard, just above the red starting push button cover, and still look good; after all, if you take a closer look at both their styles, they would seem to have been designed with each other in mind. For Urwerk as a manufacturer, this product represents the highest point of the brand's watchmaking expertise (excluding the EMC).
It is already recognizable as a 100% Urwerk at first sight. It looks like the merge of two UR210, with dimensions that go up from 46mm to an astonishing 106mm on the longer side; to this a second time visualization has been added, but it is clear that Frei and Baumgartner have not used this approach to create the Titan, but have instead started from a clean sheet, while at the same time optimizing the architecture of the actual complication, with the result of an ensemble that features an unparalleled esthetical and detailed appeal, that overtakes that of the brand’s present collections.
The Urwerk UR-1001 Titan is a time machine that reminds of a miniature space ship or, in terms of luxury accessories, of the refinement of a Vertu. Its titanium case is 106mm long, 62mm wide and 23mm thick. Its finishes are simply outstanding: the case alternates concave and convex surfaces, edges, and detailed surface treatments that indicate what meticulous design lies behind the progress from the first drawing, up to the first physical proto. Those who are familiar with the CNC manufacture can easily understand what an impressive work this has been.
What's more, everything works perfectly from an esthetical and functional point of view: the couplings are perfect, each operation is smooth, with no gap or play. A result is that is not so obvious in the case of such complications. Avant-garde goes hand in hand with a small homage to tradition, such as the Cotes de Geneve decoration on the baseplate for example, and the complication, for the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan is also a calendar.
The second train gear on the dial is dedicated to the visualization of month and day, and adopts the same approach used for hour and retrograde minute visualization. In this case I'm a bit confused, because I think it is simply a calendar, that comes with an indicator, placed on the case back, that displays the first 100 years of running and a second that tracks up to the next 1000 years respectively. If I'm right, my question would be: “what are they there for?”. Very useful is also the oil indicator used inside the movement, that advises the wearer when to take the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan for servicing, and even more useful is the Power Reserve indicator on the dial side, given the enormous amount of energy needed for such complicated watches, with just 39 hours of continuous running.
The Titan you see in these photos is in fact the wristwatch version of a timepiece Urwerk unveiled in 2012, born as a pocket and desk watch; the big lid at the back has been conceived to use the watch as a table clock. Urwerk has created a sophisticated perimetral frame with an aeronautical-like locking system and a double tang buckle, to satisfy one of the customers who, in 2012, paid 300000$ for what was originally called the Zeit Device. We could argue about the need and the taste of such a customer, as well as the opportunity of wearing something like that, but I don’t think that many would be interested. I actually believe that this timepiece is a way for Urwerk to reaffirm its leadership in the field of hyperwatches.
(Photo credit: courtesy of URWERK; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter - Watches & Luxury