UR-102, Stainless Steel Case, 1 of 50
Urwerk SPECIALLY FOR THE EVENT
An extremely rare, important and unusual stainless-steel wristwatch of Urwerk, the Swiss independent watchmaking company, founded in 1997 by watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and designer Martin Frei. Production span: 1998–2003. Case in stainless steel, diameter 38 mm, 12 mm thick, solid steel caseback engraved with “Urwerk #50 Geneve”. Self-winding movement, power reserve up to 42 hours. Functions – wandering hours and minutes on 180-degree sector. Black leather strap, stainless steel pin buckle. No.50 of numbered edition.
This lot is an extremely rare opportunity to bid on an early Urwerk wristwatch, as production was very small and lasted only a few years. We could find information about no more than ten UR-102 watches in all versions that have ever appeared at auction.
In the history of Urwerk, the UR-102 holds a special place, along with another early model, the UR-101. Both were introduced in 1997, the same year the brand was founded. The idea of wristwatches with wandering hour complication was born even before that, in friendly conversations between Felix Baumgartner, a promising young watchmaker, and Martin Frei, an industrial designer, the later founders of the brand. The idea was born in 1995 as an attempt to offer a clear alternative to modern, complex mechanical watches with cluttered dials and numerous displays and hands. Thus, Urwerk developed the design for the wandering hours complication from the very beginning. The peculiarity of this complication is the wandering hour digit, which runs along the scale and indicates the minutes, that is, the dial of the watch has no hands. The caliber with laconic time display was installed in an equally laconic, perfectly round, lenticular case (UR-102) or in a case whose shape is best described by the model’s nickname ‘Millennium Falcon’ (UR-101).
This Urwerk UR-102 ‘Sputnik’ ‘Black Dial 5-Minute Marks’ is an excellent opportunity to own an iconic model from the earliest and, as we now know, very significant period of the brand.
Production of the UR-101 and UR-102 models, which were equipped with such a time display, lasted no more than six years until the new flagship UR-103 was launched in 2003. Quillandpad.com mentions that of the UR-101 and UR-102, the UR-102 in steel, that went on sale in 1998, had the most sales. This steel-cased model (the present lot) was nicknamed ‘Sputnik’ after the first Soviet satellite, to emphasize its retro-futuristic design and contrast with the UR-101 model, nicknamed ‘Millennium Falcon’, whose shape is reminiscent of a ‘Star Wars’ spaceship. In addition to the stainless steel ‘Sputnik’ model, the UR-102 were made with a ceramicized aluminum case in black (also known as Nightwatch) or grey color and came with a solid-platinum caseback.
Our research has shown that the stainless-steel UR-102 ‘Sputnik’ can be found in various modifications. The minute scale can have a 5-minute or 7.5-minute marking, and the background of the scale and hour disk can be black or grey-blue. The present example has a 5-minute marking and a black dial. Also worth mentioning are the unusual quadruple lugs of the UR-102 ‘Sputnik’, a special design of stainless steel models that appeared only once on the black ceramicized aluminum UR-102 watch sold by Christie’s, while almost all ceramicized aluminum models have regular, paired lugs.
The UR-102 movement is based on a thin Eta 2892-2 automatic movement equipped with an in-house module for wandering hour complication. This basic way of displaying the time was later further developed by Urwerk in a variety of design options for this complication.
UR-102 represents the earliest period of the development of the Urwerk brand. In fact, this model, together with its sister model, the UR-101, proved to be a fortunate idea that became the basis for this brand, which is one of the undisputed pioneers of the motion of independent watchmakers and small creative brands. The wandering hour system, of which numerous versions have since been designed, is perceived as the alter ego of the Urwerk brand. Therefore, this Urwerk UR-102 ‘Sputnik’ ‘Black Dial 5-Minute Marks’ is an excellent opportunity to own an iconic model from the earliest and, as we now know, very significant period of the brand. The present lot is an extremely rare opportunity to acquire this model, which has appeared at auction only a few times. This watch bears the number 50 and in our opinion is one of the later examples of the series, which only increases the attractiveness of this lot.
|Case||Round "Sputnik" bombé shaped stainless steel case with 8 lugs, a solid caseback & screw down crown.|
|Strap||Black calf leather strap Signed Urwerk, with a stainless steel pin buckle, not signed|
|Dial||Silvered time display in the upper part of the dial with a moving hour window applied with Arabic numerals|
|Movement||Rhodium-plated automatic movement with a Urwerk jumping hour module|
|Cal.||Automatic 21 Jewels|
|Case:||Good, signs of wear|
|Strap:||New, no signs of wear|
|Dial:||Signs of coloration|
|Movement:||Good, all functions working properly|
|Amplitude (Dial on top/Lift angle 52):||Approx 230°|
|Accuracy (Dial on top):||Approx -3 sec/day|
Urwerk is an independent Swiss watch brand co-founded by Felix Baumgartner (master watchmaker) and Martin Frei (artist/designer) in 1997.