Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

The Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite features the Swiss company’s wandering-hour, satellite indication. The appeal of this model is augmented with the addition of breathtakingly bright luminescent indications.

This detailed review of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite includes numerous images, specification details and pricing.

Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

As children we are encouraged to dream. During the early days of schooling, teachers coax children to write stories, exploring the depths of their imagination. Fiction transposes children to a world where people fly and possess supernatural powers.

The make-believe domain of Superman has sparked interest in many young minds. Films, comics and toys featuring the super-strong hero have led to boyhood dreams of saving the world. However, there is one fictional material, Kryptonite, which renders Superman weak and defenceless. It is this iconic substance which has provided the inspiration for Urwerk’s latest timepiece, the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite.

The nomenclature of this avant-garde timepiece, inspired by Superman’s nemesis, references the vivid green hue of the hour markers and minute track, particularly evident in dim light. While this ultra-modern watch has been inspired by a fictional green mineral, it is a real example of thought-provoking design and fine watchmaking.

‘Wandering hours’ and ‘satellites’, a unique lexicon in watchmaking

Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei were inspired by the 17th century clocks made by the Campani brothers. It is said that the Pope ordered a special clock from the brothers, capable of being read in the dark. It was also to be silent so as not to disturb the Pope when he slept. The ‘wandering hour’ clock eschewed hands, replacing them with hour numerals that traversed a 60-minute scale. The hours were illuminated with a candle housed within the clock. Sadly, the clocks, invariably made of wood, often caught fire and ultimately fell out of favour.

The concept of this wandering-hours indication intrigued Baumgartner and Frei, leading the dynamic duo to conceive a timepiece, the UR-103, which pairs the Campani brothers idea with an innovative satellite system.

Over the years which have ensued, Urwerk has masterminded an array of breathtaking models featuring its patented revolving satellite complication with wandering hours. Felix Baumgartner has employed his watchmaking expertise, skilfully developing evolutions of the brand’s UR-103 model. While Baumgartner took care of the functionality of the brand’s watches, ensuring the finishing of components was of the highest order, Martin Frei obsessed about the aesthetic appearance of each timepiece. Frei has looked closely at ergonomics, materials, colour and the design language of each Urwerk timepiece. This relationship has delivered an array of breathtaking watches which have resonated with collectors who appreciate craftsmanship, technical virtue and groundbreaking design.

The dial

The dial of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite looks different from all other watches, save for its neoteric siblings. Three sets of hour numerals adorn one satellite. The hour display consists of four satellites which rotate, clockwise. The prevailing hour passes by the minute track ingeniously depicting the time.

Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

From experience, I can attest the satellite indication proves intuitive to use and simple to read. In this instance, the hours and minute track are presented in a vivid shade of green. Interestingly, while this shade of green is visible in daylight, it evinces an incredibly vibrant, clear and arresting tone in dim light conditions. It is this incredible luminescence which imbues the display with an other-worldly appearance, perhaps explaining the reason for choosing the ‘Kryptonite’ nomen.

A power reserve indicator resides at the right-hand side of the dial, adjacent the minute track. Again, luminescent treatment (Super-Luminova) augments legibility in restricted light. In this instance, the display is presented in a turquoise shade, helping to differentiate if from neighbouring indications.

Positioned on the left side of the dial is a small seconds display. The Arabic numerals are presented in 10-second units. Created using a photolithographic process, each 10-second unit is displayed in open-worked form. The seconds mechanism is incredibly light, weighing less than 0.1g. The current seconds are framed with a red n-shaped aperture. Once more, turquoise luminescent material is employed, brimming with vitality and aiding readability.

The case

When Martin Frei designed the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite he took inspiration from ‘Art Deco influences’, embracing ‘geometric angularity and symmetry’. The design language of this watch shares much in common with its older sibling the UR-105 CT Streamliner. However, where this latter watch overtly showcases its contours with gleaming surfaces, the UR-105 CT Kryptonite exhibits a stealthy appearance, courtesy of its black titanium case, coated with AlTiN.

Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

While both watches share the same octagonal silhouette, the case of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite provides the perfect foil for the display. Indeed, the hue of the case sits deferentially against the dial, allowing the ebullient numerals to proclaim their message with clear, unhindered efficiency.

The watch measures 39.5mm x 53mm, with a case height of 17.8mm. On the face of it, these dimensions sound large, however, the shape of the case and its portrait format facilitate a comfortable union with the wrist. Moreover, the intelligent positioning of the crown at 12 o’clock prevents any impingement on the arm. With this timepiece, Martin Frei, once again, shows his prowess for design and his preoccupation with ergonomics.

Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

Despite its modernity, the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite mimics some pocket watches of yesteryear with its hunter case. A sliding latch releases an openable cover gracing the upper surface of the case. By opening the cover the wearer can observe the four satellites, each featuring three hour markers. The capacity to view the mechanics of the wandering-hours display will prove fascinating to curious minds. However, once snapped shut, the display is restricted to the proclamation of the prevailing hour and minutes.

The case-back is equipped with two panes of sapphire crystal, each showing a turbine. In addition, a neighbouring lever can be used to fully engage the self-winding system, totally disengage the self-winding system or reduce the self-winding of the movement. By inhibiting or stopping the automatic winding of the rotor, there is less likelihood of overstressing the mainspring.

The movement

The Calibre UR 5.03 is endowed with a selfwinding system governed by the twin aforementioned turbines. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement contains 52 jewels. The power reserve is capable of delivering 48 hours of autonomy.

One aspect of the Urwerk brand relates to the company’s predilection for cutting-edge materials. The satellite hours turn on Geneva crosses formed of beryllium bronze. The ‘carousel and triple baseplates’ are made of ARCAP, an antimagnetic alloy, free of iron. Urwerk always seems receptive to fresh ideas, especially where innovative materials confer advancement.

Nevertheless, while Urwerk is a proponent of state of the art watchmaking, it does not abandon the finishes synonymous with fine watchmaking. The Calibre UR 5.03 features circular graining, sanding, brushing and chamfered screw heads.

Closing remarks

Innovation for its own sake, where no betterment is derived, would be a foolish pursuit. Thankfully, throughout its history, Urwerk has shown it embraces fresh ideas where this confers progress.

The display of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite, whilst visually different from ‘regular’ watches, proves intuitive to use. The dial frames the prevailing hour, minutes, seconds and power-reserve, hiding all other hour values beneath the openable cover. By framing the essential information, the wearer is not confused by extraneous detail.

Typically, the watch-buying public have grown accustomed to selecting watches housed in round cases. Occasionally, oval, tonneau or square watches provide a welcome alternative to the norm. However, Urwerk models resemble no other watches, their originality is clear to see. The distinctiveness of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite does not come at the expense of practicality. This watch proves very comfortable to wear.

Despite the unique mien of this Urwerk timepiece, it houses a high quotient of traditional watchmaking expertise. The Calibre UR 5.03 proffers the convenience of automatic winding, making it ideal for daily wear, and the finishing of movement components is consistent with a timepiece at this price level.

Urwerk repeatedly shows it seeks answers to questions few have even conceived. For example, the activity levels of the wearer can often cause adverse wear of movement components. However, Urwerk’s ingenious twin turbine system dampens the oscillating weight, mitigating the risk of premature wear.

Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite

It is when the Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite is viewed in its entirety that its greatness becomes clear. The sight of this watch, whether in bright sunshine or whilst strolling beneath a midnight sky, proves magical. Indeed, this miraculous timepiece could be labelled ‘supernatural’, a fitting label for a watch conceived by two men who repeatedly choose to dream.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Urwerk UR-105 CT Kryptonite
  • Case: Titanium case; dimensions 53mm x 39.5mm, height 17.8mm; sapphire crystal to front and two apertures on case-back; water resistant to 3 ATM (30 metres).
  • Functions: Wandering hours; minutes; digital seconds; power-reserve indicator
  • Movement: Calibre UR 5.03; Self-winding movement; 52 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
  • Price: CHF 65,000 (RRP as at 16.8.2018)

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