Although Urwerk is recognized as a pioneer in modern high horology, the company is not immune to looking at history for its avant-garde creations. But not necessarily from the early to mid-19th century as so many other watchmakers do but rather from antiquity — ancient civilizations such as Aztec, Greek, and Egyptian have all been referenced in Urwerk watches. In fact, the name “Urwerk” is derived from Ur, the major Sumerian city-state located in Mesopotamia, where the concept of time is said to have originated around 3,000 BC. For its newest release, the company travels back to Mesopotamia to give us the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture II “Sumer” watch, inspired by the city of Ur.
As its name suggests, the Urwerk UR-100V Time And Culture II is the second installment in the series; the first celebrated Amerindian civilizations, which Sean Lorentzen covered in his Urwerk Announces Limited-Edition UR-100V Time And Culture I Watch article. The “Sumer” Urwerk watch, on the other hand, is rooted in Mesopotamian history. The watch retains the same angular steel case (with a titanium caseback) that measures 41mm wide, 49.7mm in length, and 14mm thick, but this time, rendered in a rich blue hue. The blue was chosen to mimic lapis lazuli, which was apparently a favorite stone of Inanna, the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility.
Of course, the odes to Sumer don’t stop at the color.
As Martin Frei, co-founder and artistic director of Urwerk, explains, “Through my reading and my travels, I’ve been fortunate enough to discover all the richness and diversity of the Sumerians. Their mythology is rich and fertile, their constructions truly timeless. This astonishingly little-known civilization is fascinating. For this new creation, I loved staging some of its hallmark features: mythology, astronomy, astrology, and time measurement.”
Under the dramatic sapphire dome of the watch are laser-engraved motifs that tell a story. At the center is the four-pointed star that symbolizes Utu, the ancient Mesopotamian sun god. Framing that symbol are sky charts and planispheres to represent the Sumerians’s early attempts to map out our skies. There are also two depictions of the moon god Nanna floating near the edges of the sloped cut-out minutes display. Right above the minutes indicator is the satellite wandering hours display, which follows a similar curved opening and includes beryllium-bronze Geneva crosses to support the rotating satellite hours disks. To read the time, simply look at where the large hour numeral is pointing on the minutes track.
Once a minute pointer is done with its initial task, the hour satellite it’s attached to disappears under the laser-etched cover and the pointer reemerges as a kilometer counter that serves to course Earth’s rotation. There are two kilometer counters in fact: one aperture at 10 o’clock to display the 477.29km covered every 20 minutes by Ur inhabitants and one at 2 o’clock to illustrate the 35,742km that Earth travels around the sun every 20 minutes. Driving the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture II “Sumer” is the Caliber UR 12.02 movement, which operates at 28,800vph and supplies 48 hours of power reserve. Finally, the watch is water-resistant to 30 meters and is paired with a Baltimore technical fabric strap, furnished with a pin buckle.
Esoteric timepieces are what Urwerk does best. Here we have a futuristic-looking Swiss timepiece that expresses traveling through time and space, all wrapped up in a package that honors one of humanity’s earliest cities. Call it creative, eccentric, or even crazy, but it would be a shame to discard it as unnecessary. Even if this unconventional piece doesn’t speak to you stylistically (or make sense to you at any level), the watch space needs wild imagination and creativity to not only stay alive but thrive. Besides, with only 30 pieces slated for production and priced at CHF 72,000, it’s not meant for everyone to own — but we can all benefit from its originality. For more information about the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture II “Sumer” watch, please visit the brand’s website.