One of the two Urwerk UR-103 prototypes was found in stainless steel

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A watch that really changed the history of modern timepieces.

Imagine seeing this watch at the 2003 Basel International Watch Fair. This watch is simply unrecognizable. Urwerk was founded in 1996, but its UR-101 and UR-102 watches are still relatively small round cases, and for those who are not trained, they can still serve as “traditional” watches. FP Journe’s “Chronomètreà Résonance” and Vianney Halter’s “Antiqua” were only a few years old. Richard Mille, De Bethune and Harry Winston Opus projects have just started; MB&F is still a few years away. The watch world is a more conservative place, UR-103 clearly shows the arrival of a new generation-they are here to play.

But the UR-103 we have here is not one of the many iterations of the production of watches refined with a variety of precious metals and a variety of gorgeous cases in the following seven years. No, this is more special than this. This is UR-103 prototype #1. At the 2003 Basel International Watch and Jewelry Show, this was a very beautiful watch displayed to potential retailers. The purpose was to persuade them to shoot flyers for Urwerk’s wild and innovative works. There are three prototypes in total, two of which were exhibited at Baselworld 2003 (Baselworld 2003), and one was produced before mass production. The former is made of stainless steel, because the brand did not have the capital to make gold watches before the order was deposited, and the latter is made of gold, which basically performs quality control checks before the final case is manufactured. The second watch is located in the Urwerk file, you can see his personal contemplation on the watch. No, this watch is not for sale. Not even asking.

How did this watch grow from the AHCI booth in Basel to the Steve collection in Los Angeles? In fact, this is very simple. The watch was originally sold to the owner of one of Urwerk’s earliest retailers, Westime, who is also in Los Angeles, which may be grateful for their early support. A few years later, Westime sold the fake watches to customers and shipped it to Steve from there earlier this year. There is nothing ridiculous here, and Urwerk happily confirmed to me that this is actually the number one watch, and has always been in good condition. Normally, watches belong to the “out of print” category, which is not the case, so it’s nice to see clean paper here so that we know what to deal with.

Hallock said: “The UR-103 is perhaps the most important modern independent watch, both for my personal journey in this industry and for the history I like to call “contemporary timepieces” later.” “It can only Entering the traditional system from outsiders is usually a great innovation process in society. Creating it requires extreme perseverance, diligence and creativity to sneak. Its creators do everything in their power to create what they believe. Similarly, brands It is very rare to make such a prototype. Its existence is a product of Urwerk’s unique story and historical timing. Usually, this ingenuity is distributed abstractly throughout the brand or model, but in this case the situation is all concentrated in this Watch only.”

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The basic bones and internal organs of UR-103 are here and explained. The shape of the case should be what it should be, although it is made of stainless steel and has a slightly rough industrial-style finish; movement should be; from the rotating satellite dish on the front to the earliest “control panel” display on the back of the watch , All displays are there. But there are some minor quirks that make this prototype unique.

The back of this UR-103 has two very charming qualities. First, the hands on the minute and second hands do not match. One is gold-plated, the other is not. The day before the Basel International Watch Fair, Urwerk’s supplier failed to deliver the last gold medal needed for the control panel, and co-founder Felix Baumgartner had to improvise. He pulled a hand from the standard ETA movement, reduced it to his size, and then mounted it on the watch. There is no time and resources to match it. But this is not the only abnormal hand on the back of the watch. The power reserve indicator uses a red second hand. The supplier had no money to pay for the redness of one hand, so they painted the standard hand red with the nail polish of Baumgartner’s brother’s girlfriend. Hands are not even metal, but plastic. not traditional? of course. But this completed the work.

Making this watch poses many challenges for this ambitious young company. This watch is Urwerk’s first watch with a three-dimensional case structure. The UR-101 and 102 cases were originally processed by Baumgartner’s brothers, but it was not possible with UR-103. This means that they must confuse CNC machine tools with 3-D design tools, which brings their own challenges and benefits. Martin Frei, one of the co-founders of Baumgartner and responsible for the UR-103 design, lived in Brooklyn, New York at the time, which meant he needed a computer to plan this new case. Frei ordered a computer from the legendary B&H camera and electronics store and waited patiently, but it never showed up. It turns out that it was accidentally transported to a rough factory elsewhere in the warehouse building, and his landlord never paid him attention. Fortunately, he found it before others picked it up. Can you imagine that Urwerk collapsed due to simple packet loss?

After figuring out the design, we started to make the actual shell and components. That’s not seamless, but there are some happy accidents. “From the side, with the polished wing profile surface, you will see that the shape of the round body protrudes only a little,” Frei said. “The width of the protruding lug is slightly smaller. This detail stems from an error, an inaccurate structure. I like the accidental error and decided to use it for the work. I think it is important to have the opportunity to become one of them Part of the design.”

However, breaking the boundaries and dealing with these ups and downs became a key part of the Urwerk method. Baumgartner said: “I just like to explore the limitations of clocks.” “And, I still do it.”

Although this watch obviously has a huge impact on the entire watchmaking industry, it is also an extremely personal project for Baumgartner and Frey. After completely shutting down the company, they began to study UR-103 seriously in early 2002. Independent watchmaking is a difficult task, and several storms hit them all at once. But they decided to try again, and UR-103 was a success or failure for Urwerk. It is also worth noting that it has been more than five years since the company was founded. They are already deep. Therefore, when the doors of the Basel International Watch and Jewelry Show opened in 2003, you will forgive them for holding their breath. Fortunately, the matter was resolved, they received the order that afternoon (the couple said that 4:00 PM was the first handshake agreement), and the rest, as they said, was history.

I asked Baumgartner and Frey about their memories of the watch, and the two still hold a special place. Frey said: “I still like it.” Frey has the main responsibility for the design of the watch. “It contains the time when we created it, and its various aspects once again told me the story and its meaning. Life is captured in it.” Baumgartner felt the same. He said: “As long as you wear it on your wrist, you will immediately have a new look at the appearance of the mens replica watch.” “UR-103 is a milestone in today’s advanced watch method. It is certainly not the only one, but it is a Very cool model.”

I totally agree.