Over the summer, the watchmaking duo of Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner presented what was to be the final edition of Urwerk’s UR-210 watch, a classic of contemporary independent watch design that had become, since it launched in 2012, the reference I most associated with their company. Recently, they’ve announced the followup to the UR-210 in the form of the new UR-220, codenamed the “Falcon Project.” Besides being quite a cool looking watch, the UR-220 introduces some new features, includes the return of others, and offers a glimpse into the next chapter of the UR-200 series.
On the materials front, the UR-220 case comes in the form of 81 ultra-thin layers of high-resistance 150g CTP carbon that has been compressed into a hard resin. If you look closely at the sloping top of the case, the fact that it’s made of many layers is apparent. (CTP stands for Carbon Thin Ply; we’ve seen the material also used in the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater). The UR-220 strap is made of rubber, a first for Urwerk. But it’s not just any rubber strap. For its first rubber strap, Urwerk has used what it refers to as the Vulcarboné process, which Urwerk says give it a touch like velvet.
Most obviously, the UR-220 uses the familiar system of planetary, or wandering, hours. However, unlike in the UR-210 models, the movement here is manually wound, not automatic.
It’s this signature, three-armed display that most of us tend to associate with Urwerk. The hours are displayed on three blocks that are connected to the three arms. The display portion comprises a 120-degree arc along which the arms pass, picking up the retrograde minutes, which snap back on the hour, as they go. The display can seem a bit elaborate at first, but it’s actually very intuitive. And thanks to the high level of contrast between the green numbers and minute track and the black architecture of the carousel, it’s quite legible too.
Each rotating arm has a block with four of its sides bearing numbers that correspond to the hours. The only other dial-side display is the power-reserve indicator, or indicators, I should say. There are two them, tucked in the upper left and upper right corners of the display, respectively. Each of them tracks consecutive 24-hour periods, so that when the first is filled or emptied, the second takes over, for a total power reserve of 48 hours. Splitting the power reserve between two displays was no simple feat: It required some 83 additional parts.
On the back of the Urwerk’s UR-210 watch, we see the return of the oil change indicator, a display that was long seen in Urwerk’s UR-110 models. In its UR-220 guise, the indicator sees some enhancements. When the owner takes possession of a new Urwerk’s UR-210 watch, he or she will notice a pin on the back of the watch. Pulling the pin causes the oil change indicator to start counting the months of the watch’s active running time. After 39 months, the UR-220 should be sent in for service, after which Urwerk’s watchmakers reset the indicator to zero and reinstall the pin, allowing the process to be repeated.
Looking at the UR-220, one can see a strong resemblance to the recently retired UR-210. The CTP carbon case – the first of its kind for Urwerk – the use of a manual-wind movement, and titanium caseback make the UR-220 a lightweight watch, and a relatively sleek one by Urwerk standards. The new case material also gives the UR-220 a wonderfully textured look. I think it’s a great look, but I was so surprised that Urwerk hadn’t made a carbon case before that I double-checked this with the company’s U.S. office. The rubber strap, which has a great textured/layered look that works perfectly with the case, is another surprising first.
But for me, the oil change indicator with removable pin is maybe the coolest element of the new UR-220. It’s thoughtful creations like this, which can be found throughout Urwerk’s watches, that I think are most attractive to our “teenage brain,” that part of us that will happily construct a Rube Goldberg machine to be amused or enchanted.