— Urwerk’s latest timepiece, the UR-111C, is a direct descendant of the UR-CC1 King Cobra from 2009 (which itself was inspired by a Patek Philippe prototype created by Louis Cottier and Gilbert Albert in 1959), but it differs in a number of ways. By borrowing the retrograde linear display from the UR-CC1, Urwerk has once again eschewed its recognizable wandering indicator in favor of a brand new timetelling system that involves optical fiber, dual minutes indicators, and a roller set in the middle of the watch that functions as its crown.
e UR-111C appears as an avant-garde drivers’ watch with the hour and pair of minute indicators most directly visible from the interior-facing side. Hours are displayed digitally on a truncated cone on the left side; a skeletonized helix/cylinder displays the minutes linearly and stretches diagonally across the face of the watch; the second minutes display is located to the right on its own truncated crown and shows the time digitally for enhanced precision; and the seconds are told in 5-second intervals via two rotating plates set deep within the movement and brought to the face of the watch via an image conduit constructed of optical fibers. Where the original King Cobra was focused on a very flat perception of time through its usage of closed cylinders, only allowing for the slow crawl of the hours and minutes to be seen via an aperture, the UR111C delights in its three-dimensionality. e helix/cylinder used for the progressive minutes opens the watch up and shows the deliberate passage of time as the cylinder rotates 300 degrees to the final minute of the hour before a coiled spring snaps it forward for the final 60 degrees and back to its starting position at the beginning of the hour. e digital minutes display – which differs from the UR-CC1 with its single hour and minutes display and dual seconds indicator – is meant for precision timekeeping, while the linear aspect is meant to demonstrate time’s fluid nature. For the first time in horological history, a roller set on the watch’s case performs the duty of the crown. Rather than using a crown directly attached to a stem, a roller is set parallel to the winding stem. To wind the watch, all you have to do is push the fluted roller along just as you would a rolling pin in the kitchen. To set the time, a lever set adjacent to the roller on the indented side of the case must be pulled out to be set either forward or backward. In our opinion, it’s one of the most fascinating time setting mechanisms of 2018. Read on as Felix Baumgartner, Co-founder of Urwerk, discusses the development of this experimental timepiece.
You’ve made a King Cobra before. What made you return to it?
For us, it was just a natural thing to do because we love the idea of the linear time indication, which came from when I was a child. I loved American wide horizontal landscapes, and in Switzerland, we have mountains, and the horizon is not so far. In the U.S., it looks wider. e American [cars] from the ’50s had these speedometers with this linear indication, which was very long and wide. ese images are my childhood vision of America.
How long was the watch in development?
Some three years plus.
The original King Cobra CC1 displayed the seconds both digitally and linearly. With the new watch, you’re showing the minutes digi-