The stainless steel sports watch is at a fascinating crossroads in the current watch market. A combination of auction prices, provenance and social media hype have driven several high profile stainless steel models to prices well above even their counterparts in precious metals. Steel, in this strange moment, is worth its weight in gold in a way. This has led to something of a frenzy in the industry, as brands look to reinterpret models in stainless steel. The trend has even made its way to the weird and wild world of haute horlogerie, where futuristic boutique brand Urwerk has remade one of its cornerstone models into a high concept tribute to the utilitarian metal. The limited edition Urwerk UR-100V Iron celebrates the sheen of bare metal with a variety of finishes, while introducing an updated movement to one of its most famous designs.
The asymmetrical 41mm by 49.7mm case of the Urwerk UR-100V Iron follows the same squared off, science fiction inspired claw-like form as previous iterations of the UR-100 series, but the material and finishing immediately mark this one as something different. The case is a blend of stainless steel and titanium elements, with the myriad flat planes, sharp chamfered edges, and sawtoothed ridges featuring an alternating blend of polishing and coarse, industrial brushing. Like its predecessors, it’s from the sides where this shape truly comes alive, as the sapphire bubble domes of both the crystal and the caseback combine to provide a rounded, UFO-esque counterpoint to the harsh angular forms of the case itself. It’s a fascinating blend of organic and industrial forms, and while the result of these domes is a tall case profile it avoids being unwearable at 14mm thick.
The focus on bare metal and finishing continues through the unique skeleton dial of the UR-100V Iron. The UR-100 series’ trademark satellite hours display is on full showcase here, although the mix of materials is broader than in the case. The Geneva crosses supporting each of the rotating satellite hours disk is made from a beryllium-bronze alloy, while the carousel that rotates each disk is made in shot-peened aluminum. The circular brushed disks themselves, along with the baseplates, are made from an advanced antimagnetic ARCAP alloy. The 6 o’clock minutes display is slightly tweaked from previous versions to aid legibility, while the playfully astronomical 20 minute scales charting the rotational and orbital distance of the Earth through space are carried over. While the focus is undoubtedly on the sheen and luster of the bare metal alloys at play, the UR-100V Iron injects splashes of color through the use of blue Super-LumiNova painted into the engraved hours and minutes markers, along with a sharply contrasting fire engine red minutes indicator.
The in house UR 12.02 automatic movement inside the Urwerk UR-100V Iron is a subtle evolution of the UR 12.01 movement used inside previous UR-100 generations. Apart from a rearranged carousel for the satellite hours disks designed to move the current hour display closer to the minutes indicator for easier reading at a glance, the movement is more or less identical to its predecessor, with the same unique Windfänger winding rotor incorporating a miniaturized airscrew to minimize stress on the rotor bearings to improve efficiency and extend bearing life. Performance remains unchanged as well, with a 48 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
With unorthodox or asymmetrical lugs like those on the Urwerk UR-100V Iron, factory strap design becomes essential to the overall package as third party alternatives are nearly nonexistent. Urwerk opts to emphasize the ruggedness of its stainless steel and titanium case material with the UR-100V Iron’s strap, made of padded Alcantara in a desaturated navy blue. The deep, rough texture of this material plays well with the heavy case brushing, while the color nicely echoes the dial text in initial images.
While not the most revolutionary release from the brand this year, the limited edition Urwerk UR-100V Iron offers an aggressive, industrial take on one of its cornerstone lines that both celebrates the current status of stainless steel in the market and streamlines legibility for the series. Only 25 examples of the Urwerk UR-100V Iron will be made, available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of 48,000 CHF. For more information, visit Urwerk’s website.