Why URWERK’s UR-120 “Spock” Is So Important
A quarter of a century is a long time, especially for an independent watch brand. That’s just how long URWERK has been in existence, doing its thing and making waves in the watchmaking scene. To celebrate this impressive milestone, URWERK has released possibly its most incredible watch to date, and it is undeniably Uwerkian in nature. It is, of course, the UR-120 “Spock”.
You may recall that I wrote about the UR-120 at the start of October when the watch was officially released. I waxed lyrical about my adoration for it. Let’s be honest; that was somewhat predictable, as URWERK is yet to launch a watch I don’t like. For a long time, the UR-100 was “the URWERK for me”. But since having the UR-120 “Spock” on the wrist for the past week, I feel like that has possibly all changed. Why? Because as well as being a cool-as-hell watch, I believe the UR-120 may represent a key milestone in the brand’s history.
Owning is not the only method of appreciation
Before I get into that, the first thing I want to discuss and get out of the way is a common talking point regarding URWERK’s watches — the price. URWERK’s watches are not cheap by any stretch. In fact, for the vast majority, they are prohibitively expensive. However, with the amount of time and effort that goes into development, manufacturing, and finishing, you couldn’t legitimately expect them to be affordable for most. These are high-end Haute Horlogerie timepieces. Priced at CHF 100,000, the UR-120 out of reach for most watch collectors’ budgets, mine included. However, I find it highly amusing that some people would dismiss something based on the acquisition cost alone. As watch fans and collectors, we appreciate watches as a form of artistic and personal expression. We appreciate them for the wonderfully beautiful and intricate objects they are, no? So casually dismissing a watch based on its price is like dismissing the entire works of Leonardo Da Vinci because you can’t afford those either. See how ridiculous that sounds?
The UR-120 is more than the Vulcan salute
So, let’s talk about this watch in more detail. I’m not going to explain the movement’s technical function here. You can read more on that in my previous article from the launch. I said that I believed the UR-120 might represent a key milestone in the brand’s history. That’s a pretty big claim, so let’s break it down a little. Surprisingly, I’m not talking about what is undoubtedly the start of the show, the bifurcating satellite hours displaying the Vulcan salute (hence the Spock nickname). Instead, I am talking about what I believe to be the unsung hero of this launch — the UR-120’s case.
I know, I know; it is a little difficult to focus on the case given the technological marvel that displays the time, but bear with me. The UR-120 is the direct descendent of the UR-110 from 2011. The UR-110 itself was somewhat groundbreaking for the brand as it introduced a new take on the satellite hour display. Using rotating cubes instead of discs, the UR-110’s satellite hours were more 3D by design than those of the UR-103 and UR-105 that came before it. URWERK continued to evolve the cuboid satellite hours into the UR-210 and UR-220.
Going back to the UR-110, the case was fairly smooth and flat on the top while also employing sharp lines and angles on the case sides. The UR-120, however, moves away from this design language in a first for URWERK. Smooth, curved, and fluid edges are the name of the game, and the result is beautiful and almost pebblelike. Imagine a rock tumbled and worn down over thousands of years, and that is more akin to what we see here.
It feels like it could be an important stepping stone in the evolution of the brand’s design language. The question remains, will we see the organic shapes carried on into other models? Imagine seeing this organic smoothness reinterpreted in the UR-100. The very thought of it excites me with the possibilities. URWERK has always been a brand that evolves and grows, but I can’t recall a watch where this evolution has manifested quite so obviously in the case shape. Just look at the brand’s exploration of creativity and time-telling methodology with the likes of the UR-111C or the UR-112. Is URWERK now flexing its creativity muscles to prove it’s a master of more than “just” raw horological intricacy?
The UR-120 doesn’t forget its roots
As I talk about evolution, the UR-120 retains certain features of the UR-110. The crown protector at 12 o’clock is so simplistic yet effective. A very slight flip forward and it automatically engages the crown into the time-setting position. While the watch is on the wrist, the crown is entirely hidden and very well protected. The articulated lugs are also not wholly new. The UR-110 featured a single set of flexible lugs at 12 o’clock, surrounding the crown, but the UR-120 introduces this concept to the lugs at 6 o’clock too. This allows the 44mm case to flex and wrap itself snugly around the wrist. I’ve long felt that on-paper measurements never do URWERK watches real justice. Indeed, the wearing experiences often far exceed initial preconceptions.
One of my favorite straps
URWERK delivers the UR-120 on one of its excellent Baltimora fabric straps. Baltimora is a technical fabric that, in my opinion, is slightly superior to Cordura in comfort. The strap tapers from 33mm at the lug flare down to 21mm at the buckle and tail ends. I also love the aggressive taper in thickness from 5mm down to 2mm, which compounds the comfortable wearing experience. The only slight negative was that the tang on the pin buckle sometimes dug into my wrist while I was wearing the watch. This is a very minor niggle that likely doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.
Art for the wrist
After having this watch on my wrist for the past week, it has only strengthened my belief that watchmaking doesn’t have to be owned to be understood and appreciated. I’ll be very sad to send the watch back to URWERK, but I’m very excited about the potential this watch represents for the future of the brand. I can’t wait to see what that future has in store.
The UR-120 is limited by production rather than quantity. Find out more about the URWERK UR-120 on the brand’s official website.
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