Urwerk UR-100 Gold Watch Review
Maybe it’s the green, red, and gold color scheme. Maybe it’s the fact the Urwerk UR-100 Gold limited edition watch looks like an alien. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a covert Chris DeBurg fan. Whatever it is, Urwerk’s latest showstopper had me feeling festive…
I’m not a devout Urwerk lover. I’m not one of those watch nerds that loses their mind every time the hyper-creative crackpot team of Baumgartner and Frei drop a new release. Despite that, I’m rarely anything but impressed. But that always comes after digging a little deeper, looking under the hood, and taking my time to form an opinion. Because, in truth, some Urwerks are better than others. We don’t have to agree on an order (it’s all down to personal preference), but I think it is safe to say that the models are sufficiently different for preferences to emerge.
These mad time machines are cool.
Some Urwerk fans, however, don’t need to be convinced. They buy into the philosophy without question. These mad time machines are cool. Period. If you’re one of those guys or gals, I’m sure you’ll be pretty chuffed with this madcap creation. For the skeptics out there, let me take you on a little journey…
Dave down the pub
It begins, as most epic adventures do, with a conversation I was having with my mate Dave down the pub. Dave (of @RedBarMcr fame) did not like Urwerk. He was not impressed. That was until the UR-100 was released last year. Something about the oddly slab-like case, bubble crystal, and exceptionally symmetrical arrangement of, well, everything, finally spoke to him. As a long time admirer of the UR-80 series, I was less bothered by the latest drop, but I did concede the case shape looked interesting and that I would endeavor to get one on the wrist to find out for sure.
I get tired of saying this, but I have tiny wrists. My chopsticks are 16.5cm in circumference. They are, however, blessed with a pronounced ulnar styloid, which gives me a flat-topped wrist capable of sustaining positively enormous watches of up to around 56mm without looking too preposterous (close-up wrist shots don’t tell the whole story, trust me — I have the forearms of a Hobbit). As such, I wasn’t too scared about wearing the new Urwerk UR-100 in gold, which the brand kindly agreed to loan to me for a couple of weeks.
The essential measurement
The diameter is only 41mm, but of course the essential measurement (Peter, I hope you’re proud of me) the lug-to-lug length. While it is often easy to gauge roughly how a watch will wear on the wrist by its diameter and lug style, this one is a really exceptional case (in more ways than one).
…if you’re going to go Urwerk, you should go all the way.
However, truth be told, the 49.7mm lug-to-lug measurement does not tell the whole story. This is a weird and wacky wodge of a watch. It wears just fine, doesn’t overhang drastically, and sits-up nicely thanks to the ergonomically considerate lug designs (they are not the same and the case banks slightly towards the wearer’s gaze due to a lower position of the strap attachment on the 12 o’clock side). But it is still an uncompromising brick.
Amazingly, despite its hugely domed glass and exceptional dial depth, the height of this thing is just 14mm. That is largely thanks to a nice and thin movement construction but, if anything, it only serves to accentuate the wrist space it occupies. You know how a low-profile 38mm NOMOS Glashütte Orion looks bigger than pretty much any 42mm sports watch with a bezel? The same optical illusion is in play here. The effect is softer in gold, but, to be frank, I’d rather take the darker models out for a spin. I think if you’re going to go for an Urwerk watch, you should go all the way.
The Urwerk UR-100 in gold is something different for the brand. It isn’t unique within its catalog, but it is in a chromatic minority. Most of Urwerk’s creations are hulking, brooding things that look just as likely to rip your face off as they do tell you the time. This is what I really like about the brand. This dark, almost dystopian vision of a high-tech future on my wrist. Give me black cases, give me gunmetal movement components, give me iron, steel, and titanium!
…the piece leaped off my wrist and slapped me round the chops.
But you know what? Just when I’d started to convince myself that the UR-100 in gold was a meek beast in comparison to its range mates, I walked into a darkened room and the unbridled futurism of the piece leaped off my wrist and slapped me round the chops.
Lume me up, Scotty
Yes, that might have been the oddest, most disturbing sub-heading you’ve ever read on Fratello, but I stand by it. This Urwerk looks at home in low-light conditions. In the daylight, the gold is a brighter alternative to the brand’s usual fare. But inside, skulking in corners, partaking in all manner of dark deeds in shadowy dungeons (as I’m sure the average Urwerk customer has in their supervillain compound) the gold housing of this UR-100 becomes a lot grittier. That aesthetic is accentuated by some blazing lume that is just about the most sharply applied compound I’ve had the pleasure of studying.
…the two “complication windows” that edge the dial in the upper left and right sectors and the brand logo glowing a ghostly blue.
And there is actually hidden lume on this piece. I didn’t even realize it until I had a look at the 5-second time-lapse shot I took in the dark. I thought we were just dealing with some super-bright lime green luminescence, but if you look closely at the below, you can see the two “complication windows” that edge the dial in the upper left and right sectors and the brand logo glowing a ghostly blue. It’s a cool touch. It might be missed, but we know it is there now so I’m sure we’ll all go looking for it next time we see one of these in the wild.
The time-telling experience
This might surprise you given that I spent the last couple of weeks walking around with this alien invader on my wrist, but I’m a big fan of “driving” watches from the ’20s and ’30s. These slim, dressy watches were defined by a dial that had been partially rotated (normally around 22.5 degrees) so 12 o’clock was angled to meet the wearer’s gaze while holding a steering wheel.
…incredibly easy to read this watch from a multitude of angles.
Now, that’s not something we condone here at Fratello but those were different times. Nowadays, those watches provide an unusual time-reading experience, but one I still very much enjoy. Don’t ask me exactly how I find it any more useful than a regular dial (I am almost certain I don’t) but I love it nonetheless.
I’m sure the Urwerk UR-100 was not trying to ape this era. I am positive it is just a coincidence. But this layout? It is incredibly easy to read this watch from a multitude of angles. It would also be ideal for drivers of the future, although I would advise them to keep their eyes on the road…
What I realized, though, was how infrequently I check the hour. And I don’t just mean on this Urwerk. I mean in general. I assume that comes down to an innate sense of which part of the day I’m in, mixed with a strong desire to know precisely what minute past or to the hour (whatever hour it may be) it is.
The minute-centric display…
As such, my personal time-telling experience with the Urwerk UR-100 was incredibly positive. The minute-centric display, the easy-to-read arrangement of the said minute track, and the overall symmetry of a dial that could easily have appeared busy or cluttered (as I’m sure it will to some) made for surprisingly straightforward usage.
Urwerk’s movements themselves are rarely that complex. The trick is in the display. This is often brought to life by a clever intermediary module converting a regular dial into something more animated. Here, the UR 12.01 self-winding mechanical movement offers 48 hours of power on a full wind and beats at 28,800vph.
I’ve decided I like the UR-100 line, but I stand by my initial leaning towards the darker models. My favorite in this collection is the UR-100 GunMetal launched earlier this year. However, when it comes to the catalog en masse, the UR-100 series ranks near the bottom for me.
For some, this will be the brand’s “arrival” piece.
I prefer the asymmetric UR-T8 series. That, for me, is the perfect Urwerk collection. But as my theory of “relative attractiveness” goes, the love I feel for that model has just as strong a counterpart in the heart of someone else. That person (Dave down the pub, for example) believes the UR-100 is the seminal Urwerk model. For some, this will be the brand’s “arrival” piece. For me, it is a good, thoroughly worthwhile addition to a collection that has graced higher horological highs. To learn more about this watch and the brand, visit the official site here.