Hot Take: The New URWERK UR-100V “Blue Planet” — A Reverie In Blue
Today is a very good day in my world. Why is that? Well, whenever URWERK releases something new, that equates to a very good day in my world. I adore the brand, and to date, everything they drop has been gold (figuratively speaking). So, when I saw the latest teaser video the brand shared on their social media profile, I was excited…even more so when it was revealed to be the next chapter of the UR-100V, my favorite URWERK watch model.
I’ve previously written about the URWERK UR-220 Falcon Project and the EMC Timehunter “Stormtrooper” here on Fratello. I loved both of those watches for very different reasons. However, despite being the more advanced watches from the Swiss brand, I get the most excitement whenever I write about the UR-100. Why? Well, it’s just the model that speaks to me. We all have our “grail” watches, and while the whole grail concept is big enough for an entire article by itself, the UR-100 is mine.
The design is just perfect. I don’t use that term lightly or frequently, and I realize how subjective it can be. I know there will be people looking at this watch and thinking that I may be mentally unstable, but that’s OK. For me, it is perfection; the dimensions, the dial layout, and overall visual aesthetic. I also love how versatile it is too. By that, I mean this is a watch which has appeared in 7 different guises since its launch, including today’s release. Each of these watches was different in character and appearance, yet each was equally a viable and honest imagination of what the UR-100 can be. Personally, I find this quite impressive, as I cannot think of too many watches that can take on such different appearances while remaining true to their underlying identity.
That brings me to the newest member of the UR-100 family: the UR-100V “Blue Planet”. Until today, bold colors have been a little more limited to the highlights and accents on the watches or the straps. The UR-100V “Iron” had a gorgeous blue Alcantara strap and blue text on the minuterié, for example. The UR-100V “Blue Planet” marks URWERK embracing color in a big new way, one that has resulted in the stunning watch we see before us today.
Good watch design is not simply putting a watch together and making it look pretty. There is more to it than that. In my opinion, the best watch design is inspired. Something in the design journey triggers a thought process which results in an inspired design decision. You cannot force inspiration; sometimes, it can take a long time to manifest, and other times, it can be instant. For the UR-100V “Blue Planet”, the inspiration came from revisiting and evolving the watch’s unique personality — the spacetime complication.
…its explosive use of color.
Under the surface, this is the classic UR-100V blueprint. The wandering satellite hour discs display the time, and the two Spacetime complications are shown on the upper edge of the dial at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. The first tracks the distance the Earth rotates at the equator (555.55km over 20 minutes). The other tracks the distance the Earth revolves around the Sun (35,742km over 20 minutes). Where the Blue Planet comes into its own and forges its own unique personality is through its explosive use of color.
The UR-100V, now in color
As URWERK’s chief designer, Martin Frei, explains, “When I create, and when I paint, all colors resonate in me, but particularly blue. During my education at the Academy of Arts and Design in Lucerne, I had the chance to study the great Florentine artist Giotto. At the end of the Middle Ages, he was the first who painted the sky blue — dethroning Byzantine gold and launching the ‘realistic’ style of painting we know today. I love the color of Giotto’s blue sky; it’s the same sky as ours. Blue is a color that surrounds us, that encompasses us.”
…this is an unashamed use of the color — proud, even.
The watch is an assault of blue, and I mean that in a positive way. It doesn’t pussyfoot around the color, adding splashes here and there. No, this is an unashamed use of the color — proud, even. From the blue PVD steel case to its matching blue titanium case back. Almost all of the movement elements are also blue, including the automatic rotor regulated by its Windfänger turbine, the entire satellite hour display system, and the technical canvas strap and buckle. Rather than being relegated to an accent or highlight color, blue takes center stage. Against this uniform blue background, the fluorescent yellow and green arrowhead hand is a shooting star.
A reverie in blue
According to URWERK, the color of the UR-100V “Blue Planet” tells the story of a trajectory transitioning between Earth and space. Felix Baumgartner, a co-founder of URWERK, said, “We have miniaturized and reinterpreted our solar system. We get lost in the depths of the rotating carousel of the UR-100V. It is a plunge into space, a fall into nothingness. It’s a new horological odyssey with our head in the stars and feet on the ground. It’s a reverie in blue”.
Reverie — noun
A state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.
I have to agree with Felix’s description here. I couldn’t put it better myself. One of my favorite aspects of the UR-100V series is the whimsical nature of the Spacetime complications. The fact that, on the surface, they are essentially useless. However, their inclusion in the overall design makes you appreciate how small and inconsequential life is in relation to the universe as a whole. As we hurtle through space, orbiting the Sun at 107,226km per hour, it makes you think. It hammers home the words of a prominent American astronomer: “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena”. Poignant, no? And if a watch can have this effect on the wearer, then the argument could be made that it serves as far more than just a time-telling companion. Rather than being a means to suppress us, and keep us bound by the shackles of time, any object that can liberate the mind and take one on a journal through one’s own existential position in the universe surely transcends being classed as just “an expensive watch”. It quite literally is a reverie, in blue.
Stepping back to reality…
I realize this is pretty heavy for a take on a new watch release, but I think it can help explain why I adore the UR-100V so much. There are still people out there who perhaps don’t “get” URWERK as a brand, as I once didn’t. If I can help just one person to understand and appreciate URWERK, then I will be happy.
For more information on the URWERK UR-100V” Blue Planet”, visit URWERK’s website here.