The New URWERK UR-120 Space Black Is Inspired By Sci-Fi And Star Trek

Launched late last year, the UR-120 is an evolution of one of URWERK’s most iconic releases. Back in 2011, the UR-110 won the Best Design award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve. Like many pieces from the avant-garde independent watchmaker, the world had never before seen something quite like it: asymmetrical, contoured like a spaceship, a speedometer-inspired minute track on the right side and, of course, a wandering hours indicator.

The UR-120 maintains all these key elements, but is more minimalist, more refined, and more futuristic. The upper part of the case is now devoid of visible screws, making it sleeker and more spaceship-like. It is also more compact than before, and this combined with the articulated lugs results in better ergonomics.

Its most dramatic and technical development, however, is the new calibre. The self-winding UR-20.01 movement operates on the same general principles. Each of the three rotating indicator satellites consists of four numerals, with only one visible at a time. As a particular satellite enters its ‘active’ phase, it will flip to the next correct hour and will stay there as it sweeps past the minute track. The new calibre’s distinguishing feature is in how it accomplishes that flip: in the UR-110, the entire satellite rotated. In the new UR-120, the satellite’s two components split apart in a V-shape, rotate one after the other, and then recombine.

This is far from a trivial technical accomplishment, and there is absolutely no reason for it save the most important one: fun. One does not buy into a brand like URWERK for classicist or practical reasoning. URWERK is all about sci-fi fascination and playful but masterful mechanics, and the UR-120 exemplifies that attitude. Best of all, the brand’s own nickname for the UR-120 is ‘Spock’—and, yes, the V-shape formed by the satellites as they execute their flip was indeed inspired by the Vulcan salute

The UR-120’s initial release consisted of a dark grey sandblasted steel and titanium case. Earlier this year, its sophomore reference was unveiled as the UR-120 Space Black (RM542,900). Now outfitted with an intensely black DLC treatment and paired with contrasting green numerals, it has a more dramatic and powerful wrist presence. Martin Frei, artist and designer and one half of URWERK’s founding duo, references the power of black in design and how it changes the perception of an object. One suspects he may have simply been channelling Darth Vader.


Sign up for our Newsletters

Stay up to date with our latest series