March 18, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Why yes, that is the Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Machine (Device) pocket watch strapped to my wrist – glad you noticed. No, I didn’t succumb to some strange Schwarzeneggerian large watch obsession and enter a path of no return whereby big pocket watches look better attached to your arm. This is the “Titan” and it is actually made by Urwerk as a way to strap their highly avant-garde (and totally kick-ass) Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Machine pocket watch to your wrist. Urwerk produced this baby a few years ago, and now for 2015, has decided it wants to let some of the world’s most courageous watch collector’s buy one. The Titan version will include a limited edition titanium version of the UR-1001 pocket watch as well as the strap module.
How did the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan come to be? Did Urwerk founders Felix and Martin find themselves sitting at a restaurant late at night in Geneva after too many glasses of wine, laughing and joking about silly products to make? Perhaps they found themselves trying to one up each other with outrageous ideas, slyly smiling to each other as they ponder the extent of mechanical madness eccentric watch collectors would be willing to purchase. And after a series of completely insane ideas like a mechanical blood alcohol level meter or an ant farm-powered movement, they blurt out at the same time “make a wrist watch out of the UR-1001!” A calm realization follows and after looking at each other for a long moment, designs begin to form on the paper table cloth in front of them.
No, none of that happened. The Urwerk UR-1001 Titan began as a special request, as I understand it. The only true part of the above story was that it was most certainly the desire of someone clearly of an insane disposition. One’s mans crazy idea is surely an enthusiast community’s conversation gold.
The Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Machine (also called the Zeit Device) is unchanged for the Titan. What Urwerk devised was a wearable module with an arm strap which allows you to wear the brand’s first and still only non-round pocket watch like a wrist watch. A few years ago in 2011, it was hip for modern watch companies like Urwerk and Richard Mille to release wildly designed and extremely contemporary pocket watches. Part of the point was to not make them round. When I went hands-on with the Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Device here in 2012, I likened the shape to a large computer mouse. On the wrist, Urwerk’s pocket watch feels decidedly more science fiction. The sides of the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan strap holding it into place like the locks on an ammo box.
Most of the original Urwerk UR-1001 case is steel, actually, though it was AlTiN-treated and elements of it were in titanium. As you can imagine, the Urwerk Zeit Device is also a heavy thing. Think of wearing a first generation Apple iPad on your wrist. In terms of size, the Urwerk UR-1001 is 62mm wide, 106mm long, and 23mm thick. The Urwerk UR-1001 Titan, however, has a titanium case, which is not coated black (yet) and is might lighter than its steel counterpart.
When Urwerk originally designed the Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Device they likely never imagined this type of wearing scenario. In fact, the Urwerk UR-1001 has a folding foot on the back design to help the pocket watch sit on a table in an upright position facing its owner when they want to use it like a desk clock. With the “foot” unfolded, some additional complications are displayed, in addition to a cool “rear view” of the satellite indicator system that displays the time.
I am not going to claim that the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan strap is particularly elegant or pretty. It does what it is meant to do and keeps the Urwerk Zeit Device as safe and comfortable as possible on your wrist, but it doesn’t match the curated modern elegance of most Urwerk timepieces. The thick “double” strap attaches to the metal clamp which tightly holds the pocket watch in place and further prevents it from sliding down your wrist to bother your hand.
Assuming you aren’t concerned about your pricey horological investment, you could also probably use the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan as an defensive or offensive weapon. Call is the “Zeit slap.” So assuming you can get a UR-1001 would you want to wear it? That might be interesting given that the Zeit Device still contains features that Urwerk has never implemented into any of its other products.
Inside the Urwerk UR-1001 is the Urwerk-produced caliber UR-10.01 automatic mechanical movement. Good thing it is an automatic, because this movement requires a lot of power to push around two satellite systems. The total power reserve is about 39 hours, and the UR-10.01 operates at 4Hz. One complication is a useful power reserve indicator, and another is a more strange function that Urwerk calls a running time indicator. This isn’t the first time the luxury mechanical watch maker has been influenced by mobile phones. Turn the Urwerk Zeit Device over, and you’ll see a linear 1000 year scale which goes with the 100 dial. Together, these indicators measure how long the device has been in operation (running) for up to 1000 years. If you need to ask why, ask your descendants in the year 2567, who will appreciate it much more than you do.
Urwerk also includes its “oil change indicator,” which is their clever way of saying “its service time” (making for a very expensive reunion with the manufacture each five years). Flipping the pocket watch back to the front you’ll see that Urwerk supplemented its traditional satellite “flying retrograde” system to tell the time with another one that is an annual calendar. The months are on the spinning indicators, while the scale is the date. The system is remarkably interchangeable with merely indicating the time. Last, you have a day/night indicator disc. In all, I wouldn’t call the Urwerk UR-1001 a “grand complication,” but given its surface space, Urwerk did their best to offer a lot more information than your normal Urwerk, while preserving their own brand DNA, and offering something new as well.
Each Urwerk UR-1001 Zeit Machine pocket watch version is/was produced as a limited edition of just eight pieces – and that also goes for the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan. Though, in this case, you’ll be getting the pocket watch as well as the strap module that you can take the pocket watch out of if you like. I continue to love that Urwerk offers always nuts, often amazing, and regularly conversation-worthy modern horological implements. What makes the brand even more conversation worthy is that they are a company that makes wrist watches, that then decided to make a pocket watch, and then proceeded to make a way for people to wear their pocket watch (like a wrist watch). Right now, the strap module (“frame”) is also available as part of the set with the Urwerk UR-1001 Titan, but maybe Urwerk will sell you one separately if you are among the eight owners of the original Zeit Device. The Urwerk UR-1001 Titan with the strap module frame is, once again, limited to just eight pieces, and the price will be 380,000 Swiss Francs (currently about $405,000). urwerk.com