Timekeeping has taken many forms since mankind first looked to the stars to track the passing of the year. The luxury watch industry is but one piece of a chain that includes links as disparate as hourglasses and Stonehenge. Watchmaking, however, rarely intersects with these older methods of timekeeping. Urwerk aims to change that with its latest release, combining one of its cornerstone designs with the iconic Aztec Sun Stone. The Sun Stone, believed to be created around 1479, is one of the most celebrated works of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art and tracks the Aztec calendar with an ornate series of carven motifs depicting the gods, mythology, and classical motifs of the Aztec people. While the limited edition Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I may be an offbeat blend of stylistic influences at first glance, this new model introduces some of the brand’s most intriguing finishing and arguably its most unique complication to date.
Although the claw-like 41mm asymmetrical form of the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I’s case should be familiar to fans of the brand, this may well be its most audacious execution yet. Urwerk does not offer details on how it achieves the color, but the full stainless steel case is finished in a deep muted copper hue, with a blend of matte and brushed surfaces that help to reinforce the design’s “ancient artifact” feel in images. The real center of attention in photos, however, is the engraved ring surrounding the bezel-less domed sapphire crystal. Finished in a classical Aztec motif, this intricate pattern lends an exotic, archaeological flair to a case that can often appear industrial and harshly futuristic. Like other members of the UR-100V line, this unorthodox case does not come without drawbacks in durability. Urwerk rates the UR-100V Time and Culture I for a miniscule 30 meters of water resistance.
Paradoxically, the semi-skeleton dial of the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I is both simpler and far more ornate than its stablemates. The brand hides two thirds of its signature satellite wandering hours display beneath a case-matching domed cover, but every inch of this cover is finished with strikingly complex engravings in initial images. This ornate rendition of the Sun Stone’s Aztec calendar design is certainly not made for all tastes, but the overall effect is undeniably dramatic. Regular timekeeping functions are relegated to the skeleton cutout on the 6 o’clock side of the dial, where the satellite wandering hours display works in tandem with an engraved sloping chapter ring to indicate both the current hours and minutes. To better support the Aztec theme, these elements along with the visible movement components are anodized in a vivid jungle green with bold red accents. The UR-100V Time and Culture I’s other complications are nearly hidden by the ornate dial engraving, but two cutout slots at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock track the speed of Earth’s rotation and its revolution around the sun. The 2 o’clock revolution indicator is an Urwerk staple, smoothly tracking the 35,742 kilometers the Earth travels in orbit around the sun every 20 minutes through a minimal, truncated minutes scale. The 10 o’clock indicator, on the other hand, does things a bit differently than its predecessors. While Urwerk has included planetary rotation scales in its designs before, the UR-100V Time and Culture I’s 20-minute rotation scale is calibrated specifically for the 524.89 kilometers every inhabitant of Mexico City travels every 20 minutes courtesy of the Earth’s rotation. It’s an intriguingly esoteric and gleefully non-utilitarian nod to the watch’s Aztec roots, although the engraving pattern does make this scale difficult to read in images.
Urwerk powers the UR-100V Time and Culture I with its in-house UR12.02 automatic movement. Fitted with the brand’s signature orbital satellite hours gear train, this movement also features Urwerk’s unique propeller-equipped Windfänger planetary gear winding rotor, which reduces the potential strain of overwinding by harnessing air resistance within the case itself. The UR12.02 may feature creative horological solutions, but its raw performance is decidedly middle-of-the-road, with a 48 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Urwerk completes the Aztec-inspired UR-100V Time and Culture I with a rugged and verdant Baltimora woven fabric strap in deep green.
With a truly unique aesthetic inspired by the Aztec calendar and the brand’s trademark spectacle-forward approach to displaying the time, the new limited edition Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I offers one of the brand’s most ornate and striking looks to date. Only 20 examples of the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Urwerk UR-100V Time and Culture I stands at 68,000 CHF as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.