Urwerk was founded in 1995 by watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and artist Martin Frei. They presented their first watch during the Baselworld watch fair in 1997 and since then the brand has created numerous timepieces that always challenge the way we read time. Key pieces include the UR-110, the UR-103, the UR-1001 and the LAB. In September 2017, Urwerk celebrated its 20th anniversary. The brand now employs 16 people and produces 150 watches a year.
Five interesting facts about Urwerk
1 – The name
The name Urwerk is a play on the German word for clockwork “Uhrwerk”. The “Ur” comes from the ancient Sumerian city known for its huge sundials, and the “werk” comes from the German word for “work” or “creation”.
2 – The start
On the 31st of December 1995, Martin Frei organized a New Year party for students in a squat in Lucerne. He had invited his friend Christoph Draeger, who had brought his cousin with him, Felix Baumgartner, a watchmaking apprentice. Shortly before midnight, the party was in full swing with everyone dancing and shouting. Martin and Felix, however, had found each other and were in a deep philosophical conversation about time and its perception. The rest, as they say, is history.
3 – The opus 5
In 2004, Urwerk exhibited at Baselworld in the AHCI area, with just a display case and two chairs. Surrounded by round watches with two or more hands, the surprising case and movement from Urwerk definitely stood out. On April 20th that year, at 1 pm precisely, an employee from Harry Winston Timepieces decided to check out what the AHCI was showing that year. He was flabbergasted by what he saw at the Urwerk booth. One hour later the CEO of Harry Winston showed up. He was looking for a partner for his new project the Opus 5. Urwerk accepted and created the Opus 5 with Harry Winston.
4 – the awards
The UR-110 was awarded the prize for Best Design during the 2011 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. In 2014 Urwerk was awarded both the “Mechanical exception” and the “Innovation” award for the BLACK EMC.
5 – famous people wearing Urwerk
Famous people spotted wearing Urwerk include Mohammed Salah, Michael Jordan, Kwon Sang-Woo and Robert Downey Jr. among others.