Beyond the heavily modified base movements inside them, Urwerk’s otherworldly mechanical contraptions that appear to tell time only incidentally have always had more in common with something out of a sci-fi film than conventional watches. The bedrock feature of its watches is the wandering hours complication, which was first invented in the 17th century for a Vatican City clock. Though it was reinterpreted for the wrist in the early 1990s by Audemars Piguet as the Star Wheel, it was Urwerk that reinvented the complication for the 21st century with an almost celebratory architecture that displayed the hour satellite in all its three-dimensional glory. By combining the satellite cube display with a three-dimensional retrograde minute indicator, the UR-210 and 220 series arguably marked the pinnacle of a concept that became a brand.
After three editions spanning a mere two years, Urwerk is giving a curtain call to the Urwerk UR-220. Characterized by a slimmer, sleeker case thanks to the manual-winding movement inside, the model was first unveiled in 2020 as the successor of the beloved UR-210. It was originally introduced in carbon, followed by an all-black titanium and steel version and then a second carbon version with luminous satellite cubes.
This makes the fourth and final Urwerk UR-220 the only iteration in solid red gold. Due to its size and style, Urwerk timepieces tend to benefit from the use of lighter, more modern materials such as carbon or titanium. But a warm precious metal, with a pronounced concentrically brushed finish, does lend it an irresistible contrast. It is further paired with a white rubber strap, which gives it an unmatched presence while ensuring great comfort on the wrist.
Notably, as opposed to all the other red-gold watches from the brand, the bridge that frames the hour satellite has been gold plated to match the case in the Urwerk UR-220, which visually accentuates the motion of the three-dimensional proprietary carrousel system that came to define Urwerk.
The central carrousel comprises of three cubes with an hour numeral on each face. As time progresses, the cubes traverse the dial, slotting into a massive hollowed-out retrograde minute pointer to show the current hour. At the top of the hour, the minute hand makes a leap back to zero and surrounds the next hour cube. This is accomplished with the use of a ruby bearing system to ensure stability, a double star-shaped cam underneath that triggers a spring attached to the satellite frame, along with a large vertical cylindrical spring to generate sufficient tension to power the flyback. The minute hand is openworked and made of aluminum to minimise inertia and it is counterbalanced by a bronze weight, visible on the central axis.
Notably in the UR-220, the 48-hour power reserve is charted across two gauges located at one and 11 o’clock. When the watch starts running, the indicator at 11 o’clock begins its journey backwards, and once it hits zero, the second indicator takes over.
A digital service indicator is also present on the reverse and activated by removing a protective pin, which sets in motion a counter displaying the number of months the watch has been running on two rollers, allowing the owner to keep track of the brand’s recommended 39-month service interval.
The base movement is still a heavily adapted Zenith Elite which has been rid of its automatic winding mechanism. As such, the watch is significantly slimmer, clocking in at 14.8mm versus the 17.8mm thickness of the UR-210.