February 25, 2014
by Ariel Adams
This particular timepiece is all about giving the wearer the ability to measure how accurate the movement is, and then offer a limited ability to adjust the movement and make it more accurate. In a nutshell, what Urwerk did is design into the watch a very typical watchmaker’s tool, and expose the screw which allows one to finely adjust the tension of the spring in the balance wheel that gently alters the rate, which in turn affects the accuracy. I did think it was silly at first, and perhaps it is, but the system works, is satisfying, and legitimately makes the mechanical watch wearing experience all that much more interesting.
I recommend you watch the video I made in this article to see how it all works, but I will explain in brief here as well. The watch dial contains four pieces of information in distinct windows. Offering four windows as opposed to four areas on the same dial is a unique design choice and I think it works well for a timepiece of this nature. The watch has a subdial for the hours and minutes, a separate one for the seconds (which stops when you pull out the crown), a power reserve indicator for the mainspring in the manually wound movement (up to 80 hours), and a analog “precision indicator” that is used when measuring the watch’s accuracy.
The watch movement is purely mechanical and while the rate result mechanism is electronic, the watch has no battery. Instead, the system has a capacitor that stores a small charge generated by turning the hand crank. That’s right, you fold out the crank and turn it 20 times to generate enough electricity for the system to work. After turning it you press a button on the left side of the case and after a few seconds wait the little hand on the precision indicator moves to the result. You want it to be as close to zero as possible. If you don’t get a result you like, then you find yourself a flat-head screwdriver and turn the watch over and gentle fiddle with the fine adjustment screw. While I fully expected the system to work, I was impressed at how fluidly it worked. It is really an ingenious little machine, and there is something instantly addicting about measuring the rate.
While unorthodox in its design, the EMC watch honestly looks stranger in pictures than it does in real life. It isn’t any larger that most Urwerk timepieces at 43mm wide (by 51mm tall), and the uniquely shaped titanium case is actually quite wearable. I will even venture to say that, in person, it actually looks handsome (as opposed to some techno prop). I even started to want one after playing with it.
All of this came with zero persuasion from Urwerk. That isn’t their style. In fact, I’ve never had them explain any of their products to me. I find myself so interested in their products that upon picking them up I have to fully investigate them. Perhaps I beat them to it. Nevertheless, as odd as the brand is in their marketing and communication, they really never act as though they have something to prove. With just 55 pieces of the limited edition EMC watch made and a price of $120,000, I really don’t see why these won’t sell out soon to well-funded people who enjoy a similar experience with the product. My only question is, what manner of exotic timepiece interactivity they will dream up next? urwerk.com