In the latest Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, you might have noticed Tony Stark, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., wearing an unconventional watch—the URWERK UR-110 RG.
If you don’t know URWERK, they have been making out-of-the-ordinary watchesfor the past two decades with their signature element being a satellite indication of time.
During the brand’s recent visit to Hong Kong one of the co-founders, Martin Frei, revealed how one of their watches ended up on the big screen: “That was really special and for me, of course, that’s cool because our watches, to a certain degree, are inspired by science fiction films [...] and all of a sudden you have a superhero wearing it, it’s a surreal effect that it became fiction.”
The story goes that Robert Downey Jr. wanted to wear a watch for the movie, so Sony Pictures presented him with a few options, none of which he liked. Taking matters into his own hands, he went looking and found URWERK.
“He actually contacted us, which is the opposite of product placement. It’s the way it’s supposed to be, so it’s great for us that he chose our watch,” said Frei.
As our conversation ended and their latest watch, the UR-105 CT Streamliner, was presented to me, he let me in on a little secret: “This is actually the watch that Robert Downey Jr. will wear in one of the next Avengers movies.”
2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the company and to celebrate, they have revisited their UR-105 model to come out with the UR-105 CT Streamliner. Visually, the case is a remarkable octagon with deep grooves along its length, geometric angularity and symmetry which takes direct inspiration from the Art Deco streamline design of New York and their time spent in the Big Apple as young men with big dreams.
“We love this town, we love this style. This is the aesthetic expression [of the watch],” Felix Baumgartner, fellow co-founder of URWERK, told me.
The watch primarily displays the hours and minutes as well as a power-reserve indicator and digital seconds; a classic throwback to what the company was doing 20 years ago. But there’s a catch—literally. There’s a catch on top of the case that you can slide to pop-open the cover of the case and reveal the mechanism (just as you would do when popping open the hood of a car to show the engine), which is a new wandering hour indication based on an openwork carousel that carries the four satellites, each bearing three numerals for the hours.
“The idea is to close up the case, to have kind of a shield. You protect the movement and it concentrates on what you need. All you need is time. It’s a minimalistic approach. With this top that you can open, it’s kind of a convertible case so you can appreciate, if you want, the work that is done inside,” said Baumgartner.
On the back of the watch, you’ll find two pneumatic turbines that govern the self-winding rate, which can be set to three different positions with a lever.
Engage the watch in FULL mode and the slightest movement of the wrist is harnessed to rewind the barrel spring. Turn the lever to STOP to disengage the self-winding system and wind up the watch using the crown. If you suddenly decide to get active while wearing the watch, an intermediate position RED (for reduced) engages the turbines to dampen the winding rotor and avoid overstressing the mainspring.
The URWERK UR-105 CT Streamliner is available in both Iron and Black versions for HK$585,000.