With the release of the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter, the brand takes its self-designated responsibility as the architects of eccentricity to a different level. Interestingly, that level involves being the only offering from the brand to have traditional time indication with hour and minute hands. It’s hard not to be impressed with their latest offering which builds on the horological utility of their previous Urwerk EMC Watch (hands-on here) which was the first mechanical watch to have a precision-measuring device, but adds the ability to measure balance amplitude. Plus, can I add how great this watch looks in green?
There’s something quite remarkable going on inside the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter. When I was in the early stages of my career as a watchmaker, I used to dream of a complication that allowed the wearer to manually adjust the timekeeping performance of their watch. Urwerk have realised this concept with the Urwerk EMC range, and can’t imagine that they could have made it any simpler to use. But before I delve into the minutiae of this part-mechanical, part-electronic watch, let’s take a look at its vital statistics from the point of view of size and style.
The Urwerk EMC Time Hunter comes in two colour options, each limited to 15 pieces each. You can have the watch in an untreated grade 5 titanium case, but I love the military-inspired green ceramic-coated grade 5 titanium and steel case. The watch is 43mm wide, and 51mm from lug to lug. It stands 15.8mm tall on the wrist and has a sapphire crystal, display case back, and a water resistance of 30 metres. The hours and minutes are displayed via a highly legible dial in the centre of the watch. The most remarkable thing about this element of the watch is how thoroughly “normal” it is in comparison with some of Urwerk’s more quirky displays.
Internally, the watch is full of surprises. Charged by the large, fold-away winding crank on the righthand side of the case is a super capacitor that accumulates electronic energy derived from a purely mechanical source when the wearer literally winds the watch. As we saw with the recent release of the HYT H4 Metropolis, bringing electricity into a mechanical timepiece in some way is something more and more brands enjoy doing. Sure, some purists will baulk at the idea of a circuit board being anywhere near a haute horlogerie piece, but the absence of a battery will no doubt allay the detractions of many. The rest may just need to loosen up and enjoy the creativity.
So what’s this capacitor actually there for? Simply put, the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter is fitted with its very own on-board timing machine. When a watch is tuned by a watchmaker before it is sent out to market, a timing machine will be used to test the watch’s performance. The watchmaker will test the watch in a variety of standardised positions, in a temperature controlled environment. This is all well and good for a general set-up, but the actual performance of the watch will vary from wrist to wrist. Two wearers of the same watch could theoretically experience a very different level of timekeeping performance depending on their respective lifestyles. If, for example, you are particularly active and wear your watch throughout exercising, it may be subjected to higher temperatures and a greater range of motion, and thus be more susceptible to effects of gravity on the hairspring (and as a result, the isochronism) than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle in a cool environment.
Visible through the case back, there is a circuit-board installed in the movement of the Urwerk EMC Time Hunter. This circuit is literally counting the oscillations of the balance wheel, checking its amplitude, and able to provide a dial-side readout of the watch’s current performance. This is indicated by the sub-dial at ten o’clock. Joining this feature, is a traditional power reserve indicator at seven.
The EMC read-out informs the wearer of the performance of the watch, which can then be adjusted by simply turning a screw on the case back. This screw is a direct link-up to the regulating system attached to the balance. It places the power in the hands of the wearer. And talking of power, the super capacitor that drives this unusual complication is so efficient it can reputedly experience up to 200,000 charges and discharges without a significant drop in performance. Sure, it may need replacing one day, but you’re far more likely to see a pinion wear or for oil to coagulate before that becomes necessary.
The Urwerk EMC Time Hunter is powered by the UR-EMC2, in-house calibre, conceived and developed by Urwerk in Zurich, Switzerland. The movement, despite its fancy abilities, utilises a traditional Swiss lever escapement and operates at a healthy 28,800vph. The balance wheel is made of ARCAP P40, which is a highly stable and anti-magnetic material favoured by the brand. Vertically mounted twin barrels connected in series offer a power reserve of 80 hours, which is quite sufficient for a manual-winding calibre. Aesthetically, the plates are finished with the Côtes de Genève pattern, and have snailed and micro-bead blasted elements that sit nicely alongside the polished bevels of the screw heads.
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Urwerk EMC Time Hunter limited edition of 15 pieces (each version) with green ceramic "military" coating. Also available in steel. Price here is 115,000 CHF. Cool new dial design and now indicated rate and amplitude of movement. #sihh2016 #abtwsihh @urwerkgeneve #ablogtowatch #urwerk
This is another standout development from this ever-evolving Swiss brand. In terms of pure wrist presence, it may not be to the tastes of the brand’s current clientèle, but it certainly has a lot to offer. It is the manifestation of a notion I always thought possible, but had never seen brought to life in quite such an effective and cool manner. The Urwerk EMC Time Hunter, strictly limited to 15 pieces of each colourway, will have a price of 115,000 Swiss francs for the green ceramic-coated titanium version shown here, and 110,000 Swiss francs for the plain titanium. urwerk.com