The Urwerk UR-220 Falcon project is the latest creation of a high-end Swiss watch brand. At first glance, it looks very similar to its predecessor, UR-210, but after careful inspection, the new model contains many improvements. For example, the manually wound UR-220 is slimmer and comfortable for the wearer, thanks to its new and improved ergonomic case.
Recently, I wrote an article about Ralph Lauren watches and spent a lot of time studying the life of the founder of the company of the same name. Mr. Lauren is a charming figure with a passion for cars and watches. Most importantly, he has an innate sense of style and always looks elegant and refined.
While conducting research, I found that Mr. Lauren is the proud owner of several watches including Urwerk UR-210. It fully illustrates the design of the model, and one of the most iconic figures in the clothing industry chose to wear this small independent watch brand.
Urwerk was founded by Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, both of whom, despite their incredible success, are still based and approachable. Over the years, I have chatted with two people and gained fascinating insights into their world.
The company produces novel timepieces that are full of innovation, but cover traditional high-end decorations. Like Mr. Lauren, I also wear Urwerk UR-210, although in my case, I have to return the watch after the loan period expires. The UR-210 has three satellites, and each satellite is marked with a four-hour value. The satellites move along the minute orbit in turns, showing the main time in the process. Since we are accustomed to observing two coaxial hands to determine the time, I did question the clarity of the UR-210 monitor at first. However, the familiarization period is negligible, and the reading time proves intuitive.
My other worry about the UR-210 is that it has a large proportion, measuring 43.8mm x 53.6mm x 17.8mm. Once again, I quickly put aside my prejudices. The wear of the watch is much smaller than its prescribed size. In addition, the position of the crown above noon increases the comfort of the wearer and seems to shrink the clock when it is attached to the wrist.
In the past few weeks, my temporary ownership has proved incredible, and so far, the UR-210 is still one of my favorite watches. Recently, the avant-garde brand discontinued the UR-210 to make room for new models.
In September 2020, Swiss Maison launched the new Urwerk UR-220 Falcon project, and then a month later, it released the UR-220 All Black. The UR-220 All Black is housed in a titanium steel case, while the Falcon Project case is made of 81 layers of carbon CTP (carbon thin layer). The differences between models also extend to the main colors of the strap and time indicator. Personally, I prefer the expensive Urwerk UR-220 Falcon project and choose to focus on the latter.
Chat with Martin Frey
It is always nice to chat with Martin Frei, the chief designer and co-founder of Urwerk. Although some brands have introduced me to sports ambassadors and screens, my favorite is most people, but I prefer to meet leaders in the watch industry.
It is always interesting for designers to listen to the principles behind all aspects of composition.
A casual glance at the Urwerk UR-220 Falcon project will raise questions about how it is different from UR-210. On the surface, the difference between this new model and the UR-210 is very subtle.
Like UR-210, three satellites deliver hours. The current hour is indicated by a bright green nib, or, as Martin described, the “beak” of a falcon. The pen nib’s one-minute trajectory is arc-shaped from right to left, and finally touches “60” in red. After that, the next satellite comes into play. With the shaking of the satellite and the rotation of the hour value displayed on the rotating cube, there is an excellent sense of drama. However, despite the obvious exaggerations in the design, everything is clear and easy to read.
The power reserve indicator on the upper right of the dial shows the state of the mainspring (single barrel) from the maximum wind direction (48 hours) to 24 hours. After that, the power reserve indicator on the left took over the responsibility of showing that the available energy went from 24 hours to zero. A highly complex mechanism including 83 components is required to combine these two instructions.
Upon closer inspection, other subtle but pleasant details can be seen. For example, at the bottom of the minute track, the word “Swiss” is set on a black background, while the word “made” is located above the gray panel (not shown on all pictures). The final appearance looks great. In addition, the two words are positioned asymmetrically, and the gray part corresponds to the black part. Further nuances include a new font on the dial, combined with numbers with slashes. As a designer, Martin’s attention to detail is breathtaking.
The length and width of the case are the same as the UR-210, measuring 43.8 mm x 53.6 mm, but the new watch is thinner and more fashionable, measuring 14.8 mm. In addition, the bottom cover is curved, which improves wear resistance. The reason for the thinner body is that, unlike the UR-210 which has an automatic movement, the new model is equipped with a manual winding movement UR-7.20. Similar to its predecessor, the UR-210, the crown of the UR-220 is located at noon, thus reducing the possibility of it hitting the wrist or impairing the wearer’s comfort.
The curved sapphire crystal spans the dial area. Interestingly, the top and bottom of the case are not only curved, but also follow a parallel arc trajectory. One of the charms of this model is the repeated juxtaposition of curved lines and straight edges.
Near the dial, the case is decorated with many concentric circles. This is the function of the ultra-light carbon CTP case, which is made of 81 ultra-thin layers tightly compressed together. When a block of this material is introduced into a CNC machine tool, it turns out that it takes more time than milling steel or gold, which inevitably increases costs. As mentioned earlier, the case near the countless layers of dials has a series of gray and black rings, while the sides of the case are filled with many straight thin lines, similar to a stratiform structure. By using carbon CTP and avoiding the automatic winding mechanism of UR-210, the weight of UR-220 is greatly reduced, thereby improving the comfort of the wearer. Indeed, the curved shape, lower weight and slimmer profile should make this new model more attractive to potential buyers with smaller wrists.
The case of the fake watch is designed without hanging ears, and the watch strap is tied to the watch head and is firmly fixed with solid screws. The lack of lugs is another reason the watch looks smaller when worn. Urwerk equipped the UR-220 Falcon Project with a rubber strap, but this is a typical representative of a luxury brand, it is not ordinary rubber. “The strap is cured, molded and textured through the Vulcarboné process to give a velvet-like touch.” The strap near the strap is like an armadillo (scale). The strap is equipped with a black DLC buckle and Velcro.
Remove the watch from your wrist and you will face an unusual sight. The oil change indicator located on the bottom cover of the watch uses two scroll wheels to display the month. When the wearer receives the watch, he removes the pin from the back and presses the button. The latter process activates the oil change indicator, which records the operating time of the watch (in months). After 39 months, the watch should be handed over to an authorized retailer, who will arrange service and oil changes. After the service is completed, the service indicator will be reset and the pins will be replaced.
The previously mentioned manual winding movement UR-7.20 is manufactured in-house. It has a Swiss lever escapement and shares many details with the “traditional watch” movement.
However, this watch has some obvious differences. Use satellite complex devices including aluminum hour satellites, carousels made of grade 5 titanium alloy and screws to display roaming time. Similarly, the bottom plate is made of ARCAP P40, which is a strong alloy used by the brand on some other models. Obviously, Urwerk spends a lot of energy searching for the best material for each ingredient.
Despite using the most advanced materials, the Swiss company has not shy away from traditional manual processes. The round texture, polished bevels, vertical brushes, satin finishes and polished screws are all obvious. Although this luxury brand produces avant-garde watches, its products clearly deserve the term “premium watch”.
Before seeing the Urwerk UR-220 Falcon project, I didn’t understand why the brand would discontinue UR-210. As I have clearly stated, I will always be a fan. Obviously, Martin Frei kept the charm of UR-210 in mind when designing a new watch and chose not to abandon everything that made this model look forward to.
He refined the small details on the dial, and together with Felix Baumgartner (Felix Baumgartner) chose a very interesting case material, carbon CTP. By adopting a manual winding movement, Urwerk makes the watch lighter. In addition, through the use of a lightweight carbon CTP case, an ergonomic bottom cover, and finally a special rubber strap for the model, everything brings an impressive wearing comfort to the model. In addition, UR-220 is also suitable for those with slender wrists, thus enabling the brand to attract new audiences.
Although the oil change indicator put a smile on my face, the hour and minute display concealed everything. It avoids the mediocrity of some watches, arouses people’s interest and drama, but most importantly, it is still practical, can convey information clearly, and has no ambiguity.
The Urwerk UR-220 Falcon Project is an amazing watch for many reasons, many of which are detailed here. The most relevant is the avant-garde composition, but rich in traditional watchmaking techniques. Martin Frei and Felix Baumgartner sought inspiration from the sky and conceived a futuristic watch that is highly practical and suitable for everyday wear.
Ralph Lauren is one of today’s greatest fashion icons. He is a keen aesthetician. The fact that he owns Urwerk UR-210 fully illustrates Martin’s design ability and the creativity of the two founders. If I subsequently heard that Mr. Lauren had purchased UR-220 in the next few years, it would not be surprising.
Model: Urwerk UR-220 Falcon Project
Case: Carbon CTP; size 43.8mm x 53.6mm; height 14.80mm; sapphire crystal glass front
Function: hovering time; retrograde minutes; dual power reserve indicator, oil change indicator
Movement: UR-7.20 movement; manual winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 59 jewels; power reserve 48 hours
Strap: Vulcarboné© vulcanized rubber, reference “Kiska”, with black DLC buckle; fixed by Velcro©