URWERK: Remembering the UR-103T “Shining T”

The UR-103 takes the last bow with one exciting limited edition

The basic idea was incredibly daring: to imagine and invent fine watchmaking complications of the future instead of copying the past; creating the complications of tomorrow, but built on the solid foundation of traditional watchmaking culture. In 2003, this challenge was taken up URWERK’s founders, master-watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and artist-designer Martin Frei, with everything they possessed . . . and more. Their goal: to create at the beginning of the 21st century a postmodern timepiece for the 21st century. It would become the UR-103!

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Presented for the first time at the AHCI stand at Baselworld 2003, the UR-103 was pure provocation against the established horological order. And it was received as such. The UR-103 was as much hated as it was adored. It created awe and scandal in equal measure. Awe due to the totally unconventional way it indicated the time with its four orbiting satellites replacing the traditional hour hand. With the UR-103 reading the time was transformed into a sensory experience. The artistic dimension of this creation upset temporal perceptions, perceptions acquired and embedded over a lifetime. No hands? Reference marks were missing or distorted and must be somehow recreated. The UR-103 was also outrageous because, for the first time, a timepiece featured both an incredible new complication coupled with a totally new innovation: orbiting hour satellites on top and a control board on the back. This was the modern equivalent of the introduction of the tourbillion or the perpetual calendar. The old world was tipped upside down by URWERK’s juxtaposition of an avant-guard complication balanced with a respect for tradition.

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URWERK has always been considered an out-of-the-ordinary watchmaking company, a planet outside the horological solar system. » explains Felix Baumgartner. « Already in 2003, we had the desire to create a watch that was in phase with its time – truly contemporary. Of course nobody should create the future without respecting the past. All of our timepieces reference the culture of traditional watchmaking, which was handed down to me by my father, who is a restorer of high quality antique clocks. URWERK’s creations do not snub the past, on the contrary, they build on tradition as they explore new paths. »

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Today the 103 collection celebrates its 7th and last anniversary. That’s correct, URWERK will cease production of the 103 collection at the end of 2010. As Martin Frei says, « Our 103 collection enters its seventh year of life and for URWERK that is its maturity and its plenitude. The 103 was URWERK’s first true masterpiece, full of audacity and challenge. And to my eye it also symbolizes a perfect balance between elegance and engineering. That is a very fragile equilibrium, but with the 103 I think that we succeeded. This iconic timepiece deserves to finish at the top.»

On a more peaceful note, the UR-103T “Shining T” unveils its mechanism for all to see: ARCAP P40 bridge; titanium Geneva crosses; orbital cross in ARCAP P40 ; and hour satellites crafted from transparent sapphire. The elegant fluidity of the 103’s mechanics is exposed for all to appreciate.

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The evolution of the 103 collection stops here. It is collection that fought bravely to win its place in collector’s hearts. Revolutionary in 2003, the UR-103 will now become a classic. Classics never fade away. Classics never go out of style.

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