April 7, 2019
I applaud brands that do things their own way, without relying on designs from their historical catalog or attempting to mimic one of the great *cough* iconic designs that have stood the test of time. If there’s one brand that does that in spades, it’s Urwerk, and they are at it again with the release of the UR-111C Black Cobra — a pitch-black cousin of the CC1 King Cobra.
Since 1997, Urwerk has been producing watches that strive to be different, both aesthetically and technologically. In 2009, Urwerk first released the CC1 King Cobra. It was unusual in that it displayed the time on a linear scale on a rotating cylinder, instead of using hands. While visually very different from the CC1, the UR-111C is clearly descended from the King Cobra, sharing many of its functionalities and design quirks. The UR-111C Black Cobra features a case of steel and titanium. The case measures 42mm-wide, 46mm-long, and 15mm-thick. All the glass visible here is sapphire with an anti-reflective coating. Due to the unusual, almost sculptural form of the case, it is, not surprisingly, water resistant to just 30 meters.
The movement powering the UR-111C is self-winding with 37 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve, and an operating speed of 28,800vph. If you’ve paid attention to Urwerk in the past, you’ll know that its movements go beyond just the spec sheet and that reading the time takes some getting used to. As I mentioned earlier, the time is displayed here using rotating cylinders — or cones — rather than a traditional hand setup. The primary time display is read along the inside edge of the case. It is actually quite an accessible position for the time to be in. Similar in orientation to traditional “drive” watches, the Cobra can be read without having to turn the top of your wrist to your face. Very handy if you’re in a rush…
Looking at this primary display, you’ll notice it is separated into three windows. The leftmost window shows the cone for the hours, which jumps every hour, on the hour. The middle, and most pronounced, window, displays the minutes, as does the righthand window. Now that does take a moment to digest, but after a few glances, you’ll find you pick either one or the other, depending on which cylinder/cone your brain is able to process faster.
And what about the seconds? Well, for that, you’re gonna have to turn your wrist, after all, because those are located on the top deck.
The weirdness doesn’t stop just with the time display. Looking at the case of the UR-111C, you might notice it doesn’t have a crown. Instead, the watch has a lever along the right-hand side of the case, and on the top side of the case, there’s a rotating cylinder directly under the seconds display. These two gadgets work together to replace the crown. To wind the watch, roll that cylinder with your fingers. To set the time, pull down the lever on the right of the case. At this point, the setting mechanism is engaged and you’re able to adjust the cylinders accordingly.
Brands like Urwerk and Ressence help push the industry forward, showing that things can be done differently and inventively, and I hope that the industry as a whole moves towards this spirit of innovation. If the Urwerk UR-111C Black Cobra has struck a chord with you, its retail price has been set at CHF 130,000, limited to only 25 pieces. Learn more at urwerk.com.