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The Ultimate Gateway

by Johnathan Chan 16 Jun 2022
With the boom of the internet, we are now constantly bombarded by new releases and accessibility to vintage watches has never been easier. But how many of these watches and brands are actually innovative and different? The wristwatch has been around for over 150 years and although the options are endless, the huge majority of them are doing the same thing, repeating general designs over and over again, constantly challenging the limits of how much they can make the consumer spend without actually presenting anything particularly new.

Ever since its inception in 1997, Urwerk has been a brand that has gone against the grain, challenging the norms of timekeeping and it is this avant-garde approach to watch design that attracted me to the brand in the first place. The audacity and consistency to produce offerings so different to traditional pieces have really cemented the brand in my eyes as one of the most important brands to represent watchmaking in modern times.

Urwerk has never been a brand for the masses and their products have certainly not been designed and priced as such. During my collecting journey, I had always been one for the more classic and understated pieces as I felt that suited my wardrobe. So even though I admired what the brand was doing, I never felt like it suited me or more importantly, my wallet.

The UR-100 was released as the brand’s most wearable and affordable piece back in 2019. I remember when I first came across press photos and articles about it, I looked at the pictures and thought it looked cool with the signature Urwerk wandering hours, but it was still a shame about the dimensions (49.7mm x 14mm) as I never wore anything so outlandish and thicker than 12mm so decided the brand was still not my cup of tea.

Last year I managed to come across one at a local store and I thought why not, let’s try it on the wrist and see how it feels. I was completely gobsmacked by how wearable it was, shattering all preconceptions I had of it. The raw dimensions with the thickness of 14mm was completely misleading as the heavily domed sapphire crystal contributes to a large portion of that measurement. The centre part of the watch is extremely thin and on wrist it exuded an air of elegance that was not translated initially through the press releases. Paired with the fabric strap, it had this sense of casual sportiness which instantly made me appreciate the versatility of this watch.

All the initial restrictions I had set myself as a collector, staying in the lanes of traditional, classically styled, sub 12mm timepieces were completely blown away and I felt like my eyes were opened to a whole new realm. I managed to make this first generation iteration of the UR-100 in steel mine and since my purchase, it has been one of my most worn watches.

To me, this is an excellent watch and a perfect display of how to execute an entry level piece for the brand. It is presented in an extremely wearable and toned down package compared to the brand’s other offerings which is crucial in acting as a gateway drug for collectors who are new to the brand and may not be ready to take the leap straight to a more polarising watch. Having been an owner of this piece, I have to say, the heart is slowly yearning for something a bit stronger. Instead of beer, maybe it’s time for a whiskey. Maybe it’s time for a UR-110, UR-220 or even an EMC?

For now though, I’m loving that nice cold beer, cheers to Urwerk.
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