Felix Baumgartner qualifies as a watchmaker and moves to Geneva, the world heart of haute horlogerie. In addition to completing restorations for existing luxury watch brands, Baumgartner creates his own complicated movements including minute repeaters and perpetual calendars.
Baumgartner, his brother Thomas, and a man named Martin Frei meet in Zurich. These horological visionaries spend the meeting discussing their watchmaking art, philosophies of time and the portrayal of time. The meeting ends with a resolution: to create an entirely new kind of luxury watch.
URWERK is founded. The name is carefully chosen to identify the new brand’s philosophy. ‘Ur’ refers to the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur, in which giant obelisks were used as the world’s first time-measuring objects. ‘Werk’ is the German word for work, but it is also more than that. It refers to acts of creation, evolution and emotional arousal. The brand is not just founded – it is born.
In the same year, URWERK launches its first luxury watches. UR-101 and UR-102 premiere at Baselworld, mystifying and enthralling the horological world with their ‘wandering hours’ and minimalist faces.
Felix Baumgartner is officially granted entry to the Academe Horlogere des Createurs Independants (AHCI).
UR-102 is launched in a new version – a dark, ceramic-and-platinum ‘Nightwatch’ inspired by Sputnik.
URWERK has spent six years struggling to make a name for itself as a luxury watchmaking brand. The lean times are brought to a dramatic close with the release of UR-103.01 – a beautiful, retro-modern driving watch whose design is partly inspired by the Baumgartners’ father.
URWERK solidifies its position on the horological map with a very special commission: a collaboration with Harry Winston Rare Timepieces. The prestigious company asks URWERK to help it realise its Opus collection. The result – the Opus V – is a huge success, both critically and commercially.
In the same year, Martin Frei has a revelation. He opens up the case of the UR-103 to create a sleek, sophisticated modern luxury watch, UR-103.3. This immediate icon showcases the watch’s inner workings through a wide targa crystal.
Two more reworkings of UR-103 – UR-103 Blackbird and UR-103.05 – are unveiled.
UR-201 is premiered. The watch is the result of seven years’ work: one to conceptualise the piece, three to research and develop, one to machine and test and one to finish prototypes and move into production.
The next model in the 200 collection, UR-202, is premiered. The watch features a unique automatic winding system, which is controlled by compressed air.
UR-103T, with an orbital movement inspired by a tarantula, is revealed.
In the same year, Jean-Vincent Huguenin, master engraver, collaborates with URWERK to produce a limited Art Deco edition of the UR-103. A UR-103.09 is photographed on the wrist of H. R. Giger’s legendary xenomorph, in honour of Alien’s 30th anniversary.
URWERK takes its horological art to a new level with the release of UR-CC1 King Cobra, a luxury watch representing the culmination of 13 years’ research and testing. Its unique linear time display alone is the result of three years’ fine tuning.
In Asia, UR-CC1 scoops the Best Design Watch title at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie. URWERK’s UR-103T wins Best Sports Watch.
UR-CC1 also wins the Special Jury Prize in the Montres Passion Watch of the Year competition.
URWERK launches its ‘Rare Species’ series of luxury watches with the UR-202 White Shark.
In December, the brand attends the Belles Montres Paris exhibition.
UR-202 is presented with a metal bracelet – the first URWERK luxury watch to make a move away from classic leather.
The brand begins promotions for its upcoming masterpiece, UR-1001, by visiting UK-based tailor Timothy Everest. Everest is tasked with tailoring a suit specifically fitted to the watch.
In August, the UR-1001 Zeit Device is premiered. This exquisite horological object tracks the passage of time in a set of complications including seconds, minutes, hours, day and night, months, years, centuries and millennia.
The Urwerk UR-110 ZrN Torpedo is released in the same year. The second luxury watch in URWERK’s ‘Rare Species’ line is awarded Best Design Watch at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve.
Marcus Margulies asks URWERK to join a select group of luxury watchmakers designing one-off pieces for his London boutique.
In September, the UR-210 Maltese Falcon is revealed. In addition to URWERK’s signature satellite complication, UR-210 also features a world first – a winding efficiency indicator. This delicate complication shows an ongoing assessment of the personal winding activity generated by the movement.
URWERK premieres the EMC – the world’s first ‘artificially intelligent’ luxury watch. The wearer is able to monitor and adjust the way the timepiece works, according to personal preference and lifestyle.
The EMC is awarded two prizes at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Geneve.
URWERK launches the UR-105 TA ‘URWERK KNIGHT’. It has no tourbillon and no hands. It signifies everything URWERK stands for.
Later in the same year, the brand unveils a Lemon Yellow and Black Orange variant of the URWERK KNIGHT, marking a change in direction as Martin Frei aims to reignite the passion of the luxury watch collector. URWERK is moving away from its signature black cases.