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Apr 16 • 15:55

Urwerk UR-103 EW

"Something you don’t see everyday."

Urwerk UR-103 EW

“Too big. Too futuristic.” That's how I felt when we received this watch in our showroom. To be honest, I barely looked at it or even tried it at this moment. Days passed, we had to put it on sale so I started to look at it in the safe. Even if it was not to my taste, there is something special and intriguing about this watch. Something you don’t see everyday. Well, something you never see actually.

Urwerk was founded in 1997 by Felix Baumgartner, watchmaker, and Martin Frei, industrial designer with an idea of “designing and crafting haute horlogerie timepieces blending tradition with futuristic vision.”

Urwerk UR-103 EW
Martin Frei et Felix Baumgartner.

The same year they launched UR-101 and UR-102 with a minimalistic “wandering” hour embodying their ambition to make art that tells time. These models were not very popular, probably because it was too futuristic for some or not enough for others.

Urwerk UR-103 EW
UR-102 et UR-101/40 - ©Christie's

After 6 years of struggle, they decided to put everything they had on the table to launch the UR-103 in 2003. And it was radically different yet wearable.

Urwerk UR-103 - ISW Urwerk UR-103 - ISW
Urwerk UR-103 - ISWUrwerk UR-103 - ISW

This model is widely considered as the reference which put them on the map.

From a technical point of view, the unconventional reading of the time is done with a redesigned wandering hours complication with 4 rotating satellites indicating the hour and pointing the minutes along the 120° scale.

From a design point of view, the futuristic approach is inspired by science fiction and space exploration. This “spaceship” and its ridged hood is made out of white gold which has developed a light patina over time.

At the back, we can find a “control board”, a device directly inspired by ancient marine chronometers (some indications were not used everyday, so they were put on the back). In the UR-103, the control board shows a small seconds hand, a 15-minute counter hand, and a power reserve.

Urwerk UR-103 EW
Tableau de bord Urwerk UR-103 - ISW

Strapped on the wrist, this Urwerk 103.01 EW does not leave indifferent. It is big, pretty heavy, oversized for my 6.9 inch (17,5 cm) wrist, but outrageously cool ! The unusual design of the case provides a unique feeling that makes me forget this piece on the wrist. Placing hour numbers on cone-shaped satellites allows us to read time from above or even in a horizontal position, bringing unique perspectives to this spatial sculpture.

Urwerk UR-103 - ISWUrwerk UR-103 - ISW
Urwerk UR-103 - ISWUrwerk UR-103 - ISW

Being able to wear this emblematic piece, Urwerk’s flagship philosophy, was a chance. Especially when you consider that this specific reference shaped the entire vision of the brand and that this watch is limited to only 25 pieces.

Now sold as a full set in our showroom in Geneva.

Arthur B.


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