URWERK Drops The New UR-100V C52 — A Marvel Cased In Carbon (Live Photos)
I can remember the days before I started working at Fratello. I’d spend hours sitting at my desk with sketchbooks drawing fantasy watches. I think, deep down, there’s a little bit of a wannabe watch designer in all of us. Am I right? Fast forward to today, and, if I’m honest, not a lot has changed. I still like to indulge in jotting down ideas for watches. I still enjoy designing watches, but these days, I tend to focus more on concepts for existing brands rather than fantasy designs. As a self-professed fanboy of URWERK’s mechanical marvels, it’s no surprise to my friends and colleagues that I’ve had ideas for what I’d love to see from the Swiss masters of the avant-garde. Imagine my surprise when the lovely folks at URWERK dropped me an email out of the blue letting me know about their latest model, today’s UR-100V C52…
Why was I surprised? That’s a fair question. Well, possibly my favorite concept I had come up with for URWERK revolved around the UR-100V. I’ve made no secret of the fact that this is one of my favorite watches of all time, if not the favorite. Naturally, my sketches mainly revolve around this model. Another love of mine is carbon fiber and the different types of carbon composite used in the watch industry. When URWERK first used CTP carbon for the magnificent UR-220 C81 Falcon Project, I quickly connected the stunning material with my beloved UR-100V in my head and my sketchbooks. Speaking to the URWERK team, they admitted they were pretty surprised I’d predicted this combination. But, to me, it was the most natural duo since C3PO and R2D2. Beep boop.
A master of disguise
I’ve been asked more than once why I love the UR-100V so much. My answer always revolves around its versatility as a canvas. In my opinion, it’s the most unlikely chameleon. What do I mean by that? If you look at the UR-100V in all its previous guises, they’re all so different and unique. You have the art-deco-inspired C3PO and Electrum in yellow gold. There’s the “reverie in blue” that is the Blue Planet. The P.02 for Collective is a beautiful ode to the Challenger Space Shuttle. There’s the most “traditional” variant in the Full Titanium Jacket. And, of course, there is the C52 I have with me today. That’s not forgetting the other models I don’t have space to list here.
Each version of the UR-100V has its own unique character, but each one looks right at home as a part of the wider collection. For what is already a very avant-garde watch at its heart, the fact the UR-100V handles each of these personalities without breaking a sweat is remarkable. I doff my metaphorical cap.
By and large, the character of the UR-100V C52 comes from the new material URWERK used for the case. I am, of course, talking about the beautiful High Resistance CTP Carbon. CTP stands for “Carbon Thin Ply,” which uses Thin Ply Technology, as the name suggests. Thin Ply materials offer distinct performance advantages over conventional materials, allowing greater strength, lighter weight, and an overall improvement in mechanical performance. The specific composite URWERK chose for the UR-100V C52 is comprised of 52 extremely thin layers of carbon compressed in epoxy polymer resin. The resulting material is highly resilient and allows the UR-100V C52 to tip the scales at just 11 grams (excluding the strap). And that’s including the titanium case back! Trust me when I say you barely know you’re wearing this watch, and it’s probably the lightest watch I’ve ever worn.
What did the co-founders have to say?
Adding more color to the CTP Carbon case, URWERK co-founder Felix Baumgartner said, “Carbon is a material dating back to the dawn of time. It is a raw material in the original sense of the term — a perfect UR-material. Carbon was also revered by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, the pioneers of defining time as we still know it today, and a strong reference at URWERK.” While it may sound a little insipid on the surface, both of URWERK’s co-founders have long made no secret of their admiration for the arts and history. Elements of both subtly hide within every single release. Such an explanation would be inauthentic from many brands, but it’s genuine coming from URWERK.
Martin Frei adds further credence to this appreciation of what came before as he explains how the folds of the carbon layers give character to this new creation. “The curves enhancing the bezel of the UR-100V C52, tracing their way from the crown to the sides of the watch and passing through the lugs, are a classic reference. We find this same motif on the ancient Greek columns. Striations drawn and dug in the stone almost 2500 years ago to channel rainwater and control its flow along these ageless pillars. This motif has become the symbol of classicism. I often play with this reference.”
Why the UR-100V C52 silhouette is so damn good
It’s appropriate that Martin talks about the shape and form of the UR-100V. As I’ve said, it’s my favorite of the entire URWERK catalog, and it’s the most versatile. If we look at the measurements alone, that starts to paint a picture. It’s 41mm in diameter and a smidge under 50mm from lug to lug. That last measurement may sound a little large for some people, but the strap connection at 12 o’clock negates some of it. At 14mm thick, it is also quite wearable, with many dive/tool watches around or over that these days.
Looking at the watch straight on, I find myself with a sense of unfamiliar familiarity. By that, I mean that the watch definitely isn’t traditional in its shape, yet it’s not too far removed from the classic form. It’s as if the UR-100V is caught in a weird stasis mid-evolution. And that is precisely why I adore the watch so much. I have always partially understood my fellow enthusiasts who do not appreciate URWERK as a brand. With everything about it being unapologetically atypical of classic watchmaking, URWERK is not a brand for the masses. But that’s OK. You just need one little spark to wake you up from the Matrix; you could call the UR-100V the little red pill in that scenario. The UR-100V is the perfect entry point for the more traditional and reserved watch collector into URWERK’s avant-garde and futuristic world.
Introducing an all-new rubber strap and clasp on the UR-100V C52
The wonderful thing about URWERK’s creations is that they also wear incredibly well despite how non-traditional they may look. With the UR-100V, there are no curved, regular-shaped lugs to help keep the watch sitting pretty atop your wrist. So, what magic keeps things in check? URWERK has to thank the strap for a lot of the incredible balance.
The UR-100V C52 sees URWERK introduce a new technical rubber strap to the collection for the first time. While the brand has used rubber for the straps on the UR-220 collection, it’s a first for the UR-100V. The URWERK team specifically designed the strap to follow the lines of the UR-100V case and allow the angular geometry to seamlessly extend right around the wrist, culminating in a new butterfly clasp. The phrase “time is on your side” lurks on the underside of the strap.
To resize the strap for your wrist, you can cut the strap at the clasp end. The only thing I didn’t love was the silver spring bars showing in the cut-mark grooves. Now, I imagine URWERK chose to do it this way to allow for a thinner strap and slimmer clasp. However, I’d have preferred a slightly thicker strap and hidden spring bars or, at least, custom black screw bars. Yes, the spring bars are hidden when it’s on the wrist, but still. The perfectionist in me doesn’t love this one quirk. Is it enough to tarnish my overall opinion of the watch, though? Of course not.
URWERK UR-100V C52 price and availability
I’m not sure much could dampen my overall enthusiasm for the UR-100V C52. From the moment I envisaged this model with this case material to the moment I was surprised by its existence, I knew it would be a match made in heaven, and seeing is believing that I was right. What’s not to love? We have a super lightweight watch that just looks infinitely cool.
The new URWERK UR-100V C52 is limited to 25 pieces, with a price of CHF 53,000 excluding taxes. Find out more on the URWERK website.