Perhaps no other boutique luxury watch brand would feel as much at home in a sci-fi action movie as Urwerk. After all, Urwerk has been the watch of choice for none other than Iron Man for several different cinematic adventures, and the brand has enthusiastically embraced its fantastical and futuristic place in the pop-culture consciousness. Fittingly, then, when looking to create a gold-cased variant of its UR-100 astronomical watch, the brand’s internal nickname for the project was “C-3PO.” The end result of Project C-3PO, the new limited edition Urwerk UR-100 Gold Edition, offers a more traditional and luxurious take on the core UR-100 model. In addition, the brand has taken the launch of this new model as an opportunity to help in the ongoing fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The main case of the Urwerk UR-100 Gold Edition is milled from a single block of 2N yellow gold, with a unique asymmetrical set of lugs and a prominent 12 o’clock crown. While not dress watch thin at 14 mm, the overall 41 mm by 49.7 mm dimensions make this one much more wearable than many of Urwerk’s other planetary gear designs. The satin-finished, flat, and vaguely octagonal surfaces of the case give a vaguely industrial look to the overall design, broken up by a thin polished bevel atop the lugs and prominent toothed surfaces at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The flat and angular overall shape of the case makes the bubble dome of the sapphire crystal even more dramatic, allowing the complex mechanisms of the dial to visually fill this clear space.
As with previous UR-100 models, the dial of the UR-100 Gold Edition is an intricate interplay of space-age parts that can be difficult to decipher at first glance. Essentially, it boils down to this. The central rotating assembly contains three arms, each with its own rotating disk with hour numerals, and ending in a red pointer. The actual timekeeping is done in the bottom third of the dial, where the numeral exposed on that disk is the current hour and the red pointer indicates the current minutes on the outer track. On its own, this is unique enough, but the top two scales flanking the upper two-thirds of the dial are where the UR-100 really jumps into the realm of science fiction. Between approximately 9 o’clock and 11 o’clock on the dial, the pointer on one of the three arms tracks the 555 km the Earth’s surface moves at the equator during 20 minutes of rotation. Between 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock, the last of the three arms tracks the 35,470 km the Earth itself moves in orbit around the sun through those same 20 minutes. Together, these two are the textbook definition of useless complications, but add a bit of fun to the dial while driving home the sci-fi inspiration of “Project C-3PO.”
The in-house Caliber UR 12.01 automatic movement, on display through both the dial and the sapphire caseback, is the real centerpiece of the UR-100 Gold Edition. This complex mechanism is starkly different in layout to a traditional mechanical movement, relying on a complex chain of helical and planetary gears to drive the series of three rotating bridge arms. Topping this off is Urwerk’s unique Windfänger winding rotor, designed to reduce stress on the rotor-bearing system to keep winding reliable for longer service intervals. Urwerk also claims a 48-hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Urwerk pairs the UR-100 Gold Edition with a simple black crocodile strap, which may seem incongruous at first. With such an aggressive and avant-garde design, the first impulse would be to pair this watch with some equally outlandish cutting edge strap material, but this simple dressy choice speaks volumes about Urwerk’s intentions for this watch. Many of the brand’s larger and more complex offerings are really more pieces of wearable art than usable timepieces, designed as engineering flights of fancy with few real concessions to usability. The (relatively) entry-level UR-100 series, by contrast, is first and foremost a watch. The 41 mm case isn’t outlandishly big, the display is instantly legible once one is acquainted with the unique layout, and the strap is a simple piece of black crocodile leather. This is a watch that’s meant to be worn, to be used, and to exist out in the real world.
25 examples of the Urwerk UR-100 Gold Edition will be made, but only 24 of these will be available for purchase through authorized dealers. Serial number 01 will be put up for online auction here from May 8 to May 10, 2020, with all proceeds going to benefit organizations fighting the current global COVID-19 pandemic. All other units are available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $60,000. For more information, please visit Urwerk’s website.