This week on the SUPERLATIVE podcast, aBlogtoWatch Founder Ariel Adams is joined once again by Urwerk Co-founder and Chief Designer Martin Frei! Even though Ariel and our guest are recording live in person on the floor of an event, over the background noise of the event happening the two manage to have an incredibly in-depth conversation about Martin’s life, Urwerk, and the watch industry as a whole today. Martin shares how he rebelled a bit in his early life by going to art school, and how hand-drawing is still ingrained into watch design today. Ariel talks about the huge change in the industry and watch development after the availability of CNC Machines and how that affected the production abilities of the industry. Ariel asks Martin about his vision and prediction about a market emerging that would want high-end artistically designed watches, and Martin describes his aesthetic philosophy that ties his work and vision together. The two wrap things up with a discussion of Martin’s journey to America and back to Switzerland, and how his personal taste aligns with and affects Urwerk today. Listen below or on the player of your choice.
Designer Martin Frei founded Urwerk with watchmaker Felix Baumgartner in 1997, after a chance meeting two years prior. While its first watches had more traditional designs, the brand broke the mold in 2003 with the UR-103 and its space-aged case and wandering hour display; its second iteration saw the beginning of the brand revealing its mechanics on the dial side. Since then, the brand has continued to push the envelope on both watch design and mechanics, with its now-iconic revolving satellite display, a futuristic pocket watch, a model that monitors its own accuracy and allows the user to adjust it accordingly, and a watch paired with an atomic clock for unparalleled accuracy. Worn by the likes of Jackie Chan, Michael Jordan, and Robert Downey, Jr., Urwerk’s space-age designs have made their way out of horological nerddom and into the public sphere.