Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner
Whilst attending SIHH 2018, Angus Davies spent time admiring the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner, a contemporary timepiece infused with Art Deco influences.
This detailed review of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Several of the watches made by Urwerk feature revolving satellites to impart the prevailing hour. However, despite this commonality, each timepiece exhibits its own unique appearance. This is perfectly illustrated with the new Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner, a watch which shares some DNA with its siblings while evincing an aesthetic all of its own.
In 1997, Martin Frei left his native Switzerland and moved to New York. Felix Baumgartner, another Swiss citizen, chose to fly to the ‘Big Apple’ and join his friend Martin. The dynamic duo would go on to establish Urwerk, a niche watch brand which is now regarded as an exemplar of horological ingenuity.
It was during their time in New York that the pair fell under the spell of Art Deco buildings and gleaming metal work. Some twenty years later, Felix and Martin drew upon their happy memories of New York and chose to design a timepiece which embraced bold geometric forms, mirror-like metalwork and the symmetrical lines popularised by the Chrysler Building.
Interestingly, the name of the Urwerk UR-105 CT includes the nomen, ‘Streamliner’. Streamliner Moderne was a type of late Art Deco architectural design which appeared in the 1930s. It embraced curving forms, long horizontal lines, and, occasionally, nautical elements.
Holding the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner in one’s hands, it is clear to see the stylistic influences of this eye-catching timepiece.
Three satellites are located atop three, beryllium bronze ‘Geneva crosses’ which in turn sit upon an openworked aluminium carousel. Each satellite features four surfaces, each displaying a different hour. As the satellites rotate clockwise, they take their turn to revolve and reveal the prevailing hour, against a minute track.
This type of display has been used before, for example on the Urwerk UR-105 TA ‘Clockwork Orange’. However, the display of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner appears very different. A hinged cover forms the upper surface of the watch. The cover can be opened by sliding a latch, allowing the movement underneath to be seen. When the cover is closed, it hides the movement and leaves just the current hour and minutes exposed. The result is that the display delivers the essentials of time and eschews the extraneous.
To the right of the dial sits a power-reserve indicator, where a soupçon of red indicates the movement is depleted of energy.
Positioned on the left hand side of the dial is a ‘digital seconds’ display which shows 10-second integers. I must confess I did find this display a tad difficult to read.
The case is formed of titanium and mirror-polished steel. Urwerk does offer an alternative option in titanium and PVD coated steel but the gleaming surfaces of the mirror-polished version uphold the Art Deco theme better.
As stated earlier, an openable cover adorns the upper surface of the case. It is this cover which is the focal point of the watch for much of the time. Its shiny surfaces are endowed with straight grooved lines, ingeniously replicating the aforementioned Art Deco forms.
The Urwerk measures 39.5mm x 53mm with a case thickness of 17.3mm. On the face of it, the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner sounds large, however, owing to its near-rectangular footprint, it does not unduly burden the wrist.
I have previously had the good fortune to wear an Urwerk UR-210 for a number of weeks. Despite this watch being larger than the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner, the UR-210 proved incredibly comfortable to wear. After enjoying a short period of association with the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner I can report that the smaller watch matches the ergonomic prowess of the UR-210.
One reason for the elevated levels of wearer comfort relates to the positioning of the crown at 12 o’clock. It does not gouge or impinge on the free movement of the wrist. Indeed, its location seems eminently logical and should be adopted by more brands.
The calibre UR 5.03 is a self-winding movement, however, owing to this being an Urwerk timepiece, ingenuity is never far away. The watch employs two turbines which have the capacity to slow down the rotation of the rotor as required. When the wearer is engaged in vigorous activity, the rotation of a rotor can prove detrimental to the movement. A lever to the rear of the case allows the wearer to select ‘FULL’, ‘RED’ and ‘STOP’.
- ‘FULL’ should be selected when the wearer is inactive. This allows the oscillating weight to freely rotate, energising the movement.
- ‘RED’ should be used when the wearer is engaged in more physical activity. The turbines create resistance, slowing down the rotation of the oscillating weight, mitigating potential wear and reducing the risk of damage.
- ‘STOP’ should be chosen when taking part in particularly vigorous exercise. In this mode, the oscillating weight is unable to rotate.
Beyond the avant-garde appearance of the movement, Urwerk has not abandoned traditional craftsmanship. Circular graining, sanding, brushing and chamfered screw heads all illustrate the brand’s impressive standard of finish.
The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH and the movement contains 52 jewels.
The power reserve of 48 hours is impressive given the movement has to yield sufficient energy to propel the revolving satellites and other indications. A reason for the movement’s parsimonious thirst relates to the weight-saving steps taken by the company. The carousel fitted to the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner is a new design and as a result is lighter and stronger. The digital seconds display features a mechanism created ‘using a photolithographic process, with each marker openworked to make it as light as possible. It thus weighs less than a tenth of a gram.’
There is always a sense of occasion when wearing an Urwerk watch. Revolving satellites fanfare the time with a flurry of style. The company’s range of models embrace modernity and look quite different to any other watch on the market. Indeed, Urwerk could never be accused of plagiarism.
In my opinion, the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner is the best iteration of the UR-105 series. It is contemporary yet incorporates Art Deco influences. Furthermore, despite the seemingly disparate design schools, the model’s aesthetic appearance is cohesive.
Another aspect I find endearing is the hinged cover. Beyond its stylish prowess, it reminds me of an old Hunter pocket watch of yesteryear. A key attribute of the cover is that it hides the movement and frames the current time with a simple aperture. There are no distracting parts to hinder interpretation, the time is succinctly delivered, but should the wearer choose to inspect the carousel, Geneva crosses and satellites, they can slide the latch and sate their curiosity.
The Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner captures the pizzazz of New York and the Art Deco buildings which grace the city’s grid-like avenues. This watch also showcases the creativity and watchmaking expertise of Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner. Since their original trip to New York, Urwerk has grown in size and is now 20 years old. During this period, the Swiss pair have created many different watches, some with satellites and some without. The dynamic duo have shown an incredible capacity to surprise. It is with this in mind that I look forward to discovering more avant-garde creations in the future, especially those influenced by the travels of these two talented individuals.
- Model: Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner
- Case: Titanium and mirror-polished steel; dimensions 39.5mm x 53.0mm; height 17.3mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back, save for view of turbines
- Functions: Wandering hours; minutes; digital seconds; power-reserve indicator
- Movement: UR 5.03 calibre; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 52 jewels; power reserve minimum 48 hours
- Strap: Black leather strap
- Price: CHF 65,000 excluding taxes (RRP as at 5.3.2018)