The UR-1001 could easily be mistaken for the world’s most expensive computer mouse, especially with the dangling chain and its almost too ergonomic shape that just fits under your hand. Alas, the buttons don’t work and I don’t think it is USB operated. That technical oversight might make this mouse awfully inept as a computer peripheral, but it does make for a really cool high-end pocket watch! I first wrote about the UR-1001 here where you can go for lots more details and tech specs.
Limited to just eight pieces, this curio from another world is Urwerk’s take on the age-old concept of pocket time keeping. They don’t even like to call it a pocket watch – instead preferring “Zeit Machine.” You just know that Urwerk and MB&F have a good relationship when you see names like that. For some reason over the last few years it has been chic for high-end brands both mainstream and boutique to come out with pocket watches. To be honest I have no idea why. I think they are just trying something “new.” I don’t think that the pocket watch demand is very high, and most of these are going to live on desks and in drawers.
What pocket watches to offer is the ability for watch makers to have more real estate for complications and wild designs. The UR-1001 for instance has more complications than could fit into a reasonably sized wrist watch and the entire AlTiN coated steel case feels like it weighs three pounds. This massive item of fancy does not need to be constrained by things like wrist ergonomics or comfort. It just has to be cool and wild.
With just eight pieces of this pocket watch version, URWERK doesn’t hide the fact that the market for a timepiece like this is very small. I still think it is cool that they made it. The Zeit Machine has a number of useful complications, but isn’t meant to be an over-arching technical masterpiece. The main idea is to open up the concept of the satellite system, and double it. Thus, you have the time and annual calendar using the cool satellites, and there are a few other indicators on the front and back of the watch.
A neat feature is how the time satellite window system is open and you can see right through the Zeit Machine when the rear case flap is open. Aside from the satellites, the dial has a subsidiary seconds dial, day/night indicator and power reserve indicator. On the back of the watch are the amusing, but dubiously useful running indicator and service indicator. On the one hand those features could be seen as whimsical and fun. On the other hand they could be seen as a foreboding message that a several thousand dollar service is coming up, and that if properly maintained the watch will see you to your death… and beyond. Good ol’ Swiss craftsmanship.
As quirky as the UR-1001 is, the device is resolutely charming and fun. Visually fascinating it proves to be endlessly fun to play with and is physical testament to your horological dedication. I hope URWERK makes more of these. Each is/was priced at over $300,000.