Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange

The Urwerk UR-105TA Clockwork Orange is a sensational timepiece, ideally suited for those individuals with a zest for the alternative. During Baselworld 2016, Carl Eady enjoyed a ‘hands-on’ experience with this remarkable timepiece.

This detailed review of the Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Image of Urwerk UR-105-TA Clockwork Orange

Introduction

In 1971, Stanley Kubrick directed the disturbing, yet powerful, groundbreaking movie, ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Few films before, or indeed since, have had such a dramatic impact on audiences and the establishment alike.  The central character ‘Alex DeLarge’, portrayed by Malcolm McDowell, remains one of the most iconic characters in movie history and, whilst his tale proved to be challenging for many to watch, it was certainly courageous, propelling at the time both McDowell and Kubrick into the controversial limelight.  In every field, especially the arts, striving to challenge the norm brings notoriety, admiration and ultimately great respect.  In the relatively conservative world of watchmaking, this same ability, together with many other ingredients are required for brands to break through and earn a seat at horology’s top table.  Urwerk, the Swiss independent watch company, is certainly one such entity. Its cool and charismatic owners, Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner, accurate and innovative movements as well as boundary pushing designs have been delighting watch enthusiasts for the last two decades. 

It comes as no surprise therefore that Kubrick’s movie is a favourite with Urwerk’s owners, so much so that it has inspired these watchmaking magicians to create a special ‘Clockwork Orange’ edition of the UR105 Turbine Automatic. 

The case

There are so many iconic elements to the Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange, and none more so than the futuristic looking case.  Taking inspiration from a knight’s breastplate, not only in form but in its impenetrable function, the case is titanium, save for the brushed steel bezel which is PVD coated in a dusky matt black.

Image of Urwerk UR-105-TA Clockwork Orange

Around the bezel perimeter, the large bevelled screw heads give the impression that it is tacked onto the case body, reinforcing the armoured appearance.  Supremely durable, this is a case engineered to withstand the hardest of knocks and remain pristine throughout the toughest of modern crusades. The Clockwork Orange piece is an iteration of the UR-105TA series and remains true to the original case sizing.  At 16.8mm in depth, its sides carry a ‘grill plate’ effect, an industrial, yet pleasing, feature which continues on the reverse of the timepiece – itself a work of modern art.

One of the most intriguing visual features of this watch is the twin turbines.  They are displayed through sapphire crystal windows on the reverse and revolve depending upon the selected user setting.  A true characteristic of the greatest watchmakers is that they leave no detail overlooked, whether it is on display or concealed.  The turbines in the UR-105TA are a secluded secret and hidden wonder that will mesmerise the owner.

With a rather modest width of 39.5mm, it is the length of the UR-105TA that may surprise.  A massive 53mm would normally ring alarm bells for many a prospective owner, however, it seems entirely appropriate in this instance primarily owing to the clever staging of the key components on display.  One such element is the two-position crown with its deeply carved notches.  Often when watch crowns are positioned at the traditional 12 o’clock, they extend the dimension of the case.  Urwerk has cleverly recessed the crown on this timepiece into the upper apex of the case, allowing it to carry decadently oversized proportions without detracting from the overall aesthetics.

Naturally, the sapphire crystal has ‘anti-reflective’ coating and perfectly reveals the internal features of the UR-105TA, however, its shape, much like the overall case shape, is so unique it defies the traditions of horological design.

I have a feeling that if Urwerk had existed at the time, Milena Canonero, the costume designer for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ film, would have perhaps considered furnishing ‘Alex DeLarge’ with this perfect accessory to match both his lifestyle and his outrageous youthful confidence.

The dial

Urwerk has built up an enviable reputation for producing timepieces of notable quality with an ability to express the time in distinctly unique ways.  Under the hood, as expected, there is an outstanding movement, however, just as remarkable are the components of the face.  First coming to prominence in an association with Harry Winston, (resulting in the famed Opus 5), the wandering hour satellite system has since become one of Urwerk’s trademark horological expressions.  On the Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange, the time is displayed by utilising four blackened aluminium circular discs. Each are adorned with three hour markers, painted in a warm orange Super-LumiNova®, providing a stunning contrast to the deep black hues evident on the rest of the watch.  A circular black Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) canopy with a guilloché finish sits atop the discs. Its material is extremely lightweight, easy to work with and has a low friction co-efficient.  Four ‘cuts’ in the canopy reveal the hour markers as they slowly rotate into place.  Tiny indicator lines emanate from each hour number, displaying the precise time as the satellites gracefully follow the arc of the minute rail.   

Image of Urwerk UR-105-TA Clockwork Orange

The strap

Deliberating on how to select a strap to complement such a uniquely designed watch is an unenviable task.  Resilience, style and comfort are masterfully delivered as one would expect. 

The tightly woven black nylon band is the same material that was introduced in the Black-Hawk (UR-210Y) and provides supreme toughness with modern styling.  Fastened with a simple pin and buckle, the strap has the appearance of modern day chainmail, an entirely appropriate complement to the breastplate styling of the case.  Ownership of an Urwerk timepiece is a considerable investment and those lucky enough to join this exclusive club can be assured they have chosen wisely.

The movement

With such a unique outer body, it will come as no surprise that an extremely high quality movement beats within.  Urwerk’s Calibre 5.02 UR is a 4Hz, or 28,800 vph, automatic movement,  designed and assembled in-house. It has a respectable 48hr power reserve.  The ‘TA’ in the title of the timepiece stands for Turbine Automatic.  Twin turbines, on full display on the reverse, are coupled to the rotor and give full control over the speed of the winding mechanism. Depending on the activity of the owner, three different options can be selected, ‘Full’, ‘Reduced’ or ‘Stop’, determined by a small lever in sandblasted and brushed titanium.

Image of Urwerk UR-105-TA Clockwork Orange

  • ‘FULL’ is selected for more sedentary periods, when the turbines and the rotor are ‘freed’ to allow optimal winding.
  • ‘RED.’ should be selected during more active times, hence the air-turbines create a resistance to effectively slow down the rotor
  • ‘STOP’ is the option for the most vigorous activities, when the wearer is advised to protect the movement and stop the winding rotor altogether.  At this point, the mainspring will continue to power the timepiece until the power reserve has become depleted.

The true wonder of this movement however lies hidden from view.   A carousel, which carries the four satellite hour discs, is treated with ruthenium then bead blasted to an exceptional finish.  Also attached to this carousel are bronze/beryllium Geneva crosses which guide the discs through four 120° arcs during their twelve hour journey.

This movement provides further evidence of Urwerk’s ability to honour a ‘time old’ mechanical concept with ultra-modern material finishes and combine them to dramatic effect in their pursuit of timekeeping excellence.

Closing remarks

Urwerk create designs which deliver colossal and unique visual impact. The ability of Urwerk to successfully challenge mainstream design is part of the company’s DNA and truly sets it apart as one of the leading lights of the watch world. Indeed, throughout its history, Urwerk has repeatedly delivered advancement in the sphere of horology.

However, much like Stanley Kubricks film, the ‘Clockwork Orange’ may prove too radical to claim universal appeal.  The Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange has an enticing industrial tactility throughout and, by utilising less traditional colour accents, multiple layers of charm are evident throughout this timepiece.

Even for those with more traditional tastes, the exceptional mechanism beating in the heart of the UR-105TA commands respect alone.  For Urwerk fans and horological enthusiasts fortunate enough to afford an Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange, the biggest challenge, as always, will be obtaining one of these horological masterpieces, considering that only a few pieces of this spectacular watch will be made.

Technical specification

  • Model: Urwerk UR-105 TA Clockwork Orange
  • Movement – UR 5.02 Self winding mechanical
  • Power reserve – 48 hours
  • Case – Titanium body / Brushed and PVD coated steel bezel
  • Case size – Height 53mm, Width 39mm, Depth 16.8mm
  • Dial – Aluminium Hour satellites with a PEEK canopy
  • Glass – sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance – Pressure tested to 3ATM / 100’ / 30m
  • Band – Black nylon with pin and buckle fastening
  • Price – R.R.P 60000 (at 7th October 2016)

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