The Urwerk UR-230 Has A Redefined Character Inspired By Eagles

Urwerk’s 200 series of timepieces has always been a breeding ground for new technologies and graceful but powerful lines that are both industrial and organic. The UR-220 was retired only last year with a final celebratory edition, and as it turns out, it was to make room for an all-new iteration.

Visually, the UR-230 ‘Eagle’ bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor, with its sweeping profile, curved sapphire crystal, and distinctive bezel shape. Although some parts of the case are made from titanium, its visible externals are largely CTP carbon. This is a material that was part of the UR-220’s debut and is durable, lightweight and has a distinctive concentric pattern. The most obvious difference on the UR-230 is the addition of a cover—a half-hunter case, you could call it—that sheathes the top half of the watch. While down, the cover leaves only the essentials of timekeeping visible, which in the case of URWERK is the pertinent satellite of its trademark wandering hours system. The concept is unchanged from before—the movement consists of a three-armed carousel with a rotating block of four numerals at the end of each, which will turn to show the correct hour as it sweeps along the 120-degree segment at the bottom of the watch. It is accompanied by a 3D-printed aluminium retrograde minutes arm that will move in sync with the hour block.

The cover adds a certain ruggedness on its own, but the lines of the case have also been tweaked to present a more muscular stance—inspired by its namesake bird of prey. The overall dimensions have grown slightly, and the UR-230 now measures about 45mm in width, 54mm in length, and 18mm in thickness. The cover is itself also something of a technological development. It has a springy action to its operation, smooth but mechanically satisfying. It also has a brake system on its closing, so that it comes to rest gently on the sapphire crystal before it can be clicked shut.

The new UR-7.30 calibre is self-winding, unlike its predecessor. As such, it packs two sets of turbines that are visible through a window on the caseback. They act as a shock absorber, protecting the movement from undue jostling. There are also two switches on the back of the watch. One of these adjusts the ‘air brake’, which modulates the winding efficiency of the system and can be tailored to the wearer’s activity level. The other disengages the rotor entirely, leaving the movement as manual winding only—advisable during particularly vigorous activities. Both of these functions are indicated by windows on the front of the watch, at the top corners.

Martin Frei—artist, designer, and one-half of URWERK’s founding duo—feels that the UR-230 is the endgame, in one sense. “The eagle is king, I would say,” he explains of the bird of prey, adding that there are very few animals that can match its impressiveness. “It’s the end, in a way. We can’t make a more solid or strong piece. If we continue with the 200 series, it would be more on another side—maybe more elegant, or something like that. I still see the potential to develop it further, but not in a ‘strong’ sense.

“I don’t know for how long we’ll continue,” he adds regarding the 200 series. “In order to start something new, we would have to stop it—even though it’s hard!”


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