On December 31st, 1995, Martin Frei organized a New Year party for students in a squat in Lucerne. He had invited his friend Christoph Draeger, who brought his cousin, Felix Baumgartner, a watchmaking apprentice. Shortly before midnight, the party was in full swing, with everyone dancing and shouting. However, Martin and Felix had found each other and were in a deep philosophical conversation about time and its perception. The rest, as they say, is history.
Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei 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.
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, Urwerk’s unusual case and movement definitely stood out. On April 20th that year, at 1 pm, an employee from Harry Winston Timepieces decided to check out what the AHCI was showing that year. He was astounded 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 Opus 5 project. Urwerk accepted the challenge and created the Opus 5 with Harry Winston.
The UR-110 was awarded Best Design prize 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.
The Urwerk 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.”
Key Urwerk 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.
In 2017, Robert Downey Jr personally requested the Urwerk UR-110 RG to wear in the movie Spider-Man Homecoming. The watch came in the colors of his character Iron Man and was used as one of Ironman’s gadgets.