First debuted in 2012, this will be the eighth article now published on aBlogtoWatch regarding Urwerk’s UR-210 watch model, and the first full review. On my wrist is the Urwerk UR-210 RG, with “RG” standing for 18k red gold – the primary case material. The most recent version of the UR-210 that we covered was an interesting piece unique (one of a kind) model known as the Urwerk UR-210 Amadeus – which boasts a fully hand-engraved case and bracelet.
Most versions of the UR-210 come in steel, which makes this red gold model the odd man out. While precious metal Urwerk timepieces are by no means new, conspicuously precious metal-cased Urwerk timepieces come second to those in more practical metals such as steel and titanium. Of course, that isn’t about money savings, since we are talking about watches which average perhaps $100,000 each. It is really just about the theme and focus of the brand, which isn’t old-world luxury but futurism meeting mechanics.
While I don’t personally lust after ever Urwerk timepiece out there, I have often said that the UR-210 is one of my top choices if I was to choose a watch from the brand. This is mainly because of both the case shape, as well as the complications and how the time is displayed. The symmetrical case is attractive and comfortable to wear, while the complications are for the most part practical. More on that in a bit.
Visually speaking the UR-210 has its own character within Urwerk’s larger assortment of models, but it also has a bit of a distinctive look to it. I think Urwerk got the length versus width proportions right, along with the overall design of case. On the wrist the case is 43.8mm wide and 17.8mm thick. The more important measurement is the case length, which in this case is 53.6mm. That is the measurement you’ll care about the most when determining if this can fit on your wrist.
Urwerk supplied this watch with a shorter strap for my smaller wrists – which I appreciate. Given the thickness of various parts of this very good looking black alligator strap, I would encourage anyone interested in this watch to double check to make sure the included strap works for their wrist. If it doesn’t, the wearing experience might not be as comfortable. I mention comfort so much because I think it is worth mentioning each time a case shape is not a standard round shape with traditional lugs. Here, the lugs are set down toward the bottom of the case, underneath the primary case, which helps make the watch positive from an ergonomic perspective.
Detailing on the case is good, with a mixture of angles and lines which keep it interesting from most views. The majority of the case is brushed 18k red gold, while matte-finished black-colored titanium pieces are used for the caseback as well as the crown assembly. The crown itself is placed at the 12 o’clock position on the case, and it is thankfully large and easy to wind while the watch is still being worn. Though as an automatic watch, you don’t strictly need to wind it all the time.
Compared to the red gold part of the case, the black titanium caseback actually has a lot more visual details, including a small sapphire crystal window to the movement, as well as a round finger-operated switch that adjusts how the automatic winding system works.
This latter feature isn’t unique to the UR-210, but isn’t present in all Urwerk timepieces. It is part of the in-house made UR-7.10 movement’s “Turbine Control” system and has three settings. Urwerk refers to this system as a “winding efficiency selector” and its purpose is to allow the automatic rotor (not visible) to spin more slowly thanks to what I believe is increased friction, or to completely block the automatic rotor from winding at all – thus removing the ability for the watch to be automatically wound.
Why might you want to change how the watch winds? In theory, to protect the movement from being damaged during shock. More recently, Ball watches came out with a similar complication they call their “Amortiser,” which also used a switch on the back of the watch to block the rotor from spinning. The utility for a complication such as this is limited, but in the right situations it can prevent damage to the fragile mechanical movement in the watch.
My biggest problem with being able to manually stop the automatic rotor from winding the movement is that you need to think about it in advance of when your watch might be subjected to something such as shock. Say for instance you accidentally drop your watch and with the rotor blocked, the watch would not suffer damage to the movement… you’d have to anticipate that in advance of dropping the watch so that you can set the winding system to the right mode. Clearly, this complication isn’t about preventing accidents.
Urwerk is instead imagining a relatively niche scenario when you anticipate the watch being subjected to shock, yet can’t be compelled to simply not wear the watch. If you are going to be playing tennis or golf and want to protect against that type of shock, but still want to wear your Urwerk, then that is a good example of when to totally block the rotor. Are you mountain biking or riding in roller coasters? Those might be situations to reduce the winding efficiency of the movement. While I’m not saying this complication is mostly for novelty value, I’ve simply not put myself in the “F you world” position of wanting to do something that would be dangerous to a mechanical watch, and yet stubbornly deciding that I need to wear a $150,000 timepiece on my wrist despite what logic dictates.
Suffice it to say that during my otherwise very happy time reviewing this watch, I was never once compelled to change the winding efficiency on the movement. Then again, I did enjoy the opportunity to explain what the winding efficiency selector was, and I could tell people were impressed. If you measure the value of a luxury timepiece by its ability to impress others, then you certainly DO want a watch with a winding efficiency selector (because you never know what type of 007 situation you might be in that requires it).
Equally obscure in usage but a bit more relatable for us mere mortals is another interesting complication in the UR-210 visible on the dial-side of the watch that Urwerk calls the winding efficiency indicator. Funny enough, both the winding efficiency indicator and the winding efficiency selector might be at odds with one another since one can reduce or stop winding efficiency, and the other is there to indicate if you aren’t winding the watch efficiently enough.
In theory, there is an “optimum” amount of winding any mechanical movement should have in order to not be “over-wound,” and in order to maintain optimal accuracy thanks to the mainspring being wound enough. Urwerk has toyed with the idea of having a watch that helps you keep it accurate. The most advanced execution of this concept is contained in the Urwerk EMC collection which initially debuted one year after the UR-210. The EMC includes an electronic rate result tool that can be activated to determine the current accuracy of the mechanical movement inside of it. The user can then turn a small screw on the rear of the case in order to tweak the fine adjustment of the regulation system – in theory allowing you to make the watch more accurate.
Going back to the UR-210, the winding efficiency indicator scale sits on the upper left side of the dial adjacent to the power reserve indicator which is on the upper right side of the dial. The idea is that if the indicator hand is in the red zone, the movement isn’t being wound enough and the movement will eventually run out of power if the slow winding (or lack thereof continues). If the indicator is out of red area, then my understanding is that the automatic winding is enough to keep the movement going. Intellectually this is a very interesting concept, but probably best for those who are very in tune with their devices and have the time (and desire) to pay attention to this stuff. My understanding is that as a person’s income goes up, their available free time tends to go down. Given that this is clearly a “high luxury” item, I am not sure that I’ve met too many people who have the income to get a watch like this, as well as the mental bandwidth to pay attention to the current winding efficiency. For the rest of my thoughts on this, see above where I discuss how storytelling and the ability to impress people add to the value of a watch.
My main focus with any timepiece isn’t the “side complications,” but rather how it tells the time. One of my biggest compliments to Urwerk’s regular use of a “satellite time indication system” is how nicely legible and practical it is. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I found reading the time using the “roaming” hour/minute hand along the minute scale easy and comfortable. Mentally, your eyes first see the hour (digitally) and then read the minute at the same spot. This meant that the time required for me to read the time was in many instances shorter than with a standard two or three hand analog watch dial.
Not all Urwerk satellite time indications are exactly the same. The particular flavor in the UR-210’s UR-7.10 movement is among the coolest in my opinion. The black-colored (for this model) hour hand is actually a retrograde hand, while the inner three-armed system spins around clockwise. Each of the three arms has a cube with four hour markers on it. As the system turns, these cubes turn over to reveal the next numeral in the series. It’s cool to watch and play with. Better yet is the ability to set the time forward as well as the ability to reverse the hours and set the time that way. I believe that in some early Urwerk watches you could only set the time forward.
Simply being able to observe the entire satellite time indication system with the accompanying componentry on the dial of the UR-210 is a joy. The precise nature of the parts, along with their elegant yet modern design is part of what makes Urwerk such a great luxury item. These are truly mechanical wonders for people who like living in the now. While there are, of course, plenty of synergies between traditional watchmaking and what Geneva-based Urwerk makes, a key element of the brand’s charm is their almost isolationist viewpoint on following trends or taking what others are doing into consideration. Felix and Martin who run the brand deserve some applause for making not only amazing timepieces, but also entirely different watches compared to what exists at this or any other price category.
The UR-7.10 automatic movement operates at 4Hz with 39 hours of power reserve. This slightly less than ideal power reserve is simply a reflection of the weight of the parts, as well as the accompanying friction in the movement that requires a lot more power than most traditional mechanical movements to operate properly. Most of the visible elements of the movement are produced in aluminum and titanium. Also welcome on the dial is the Super-LumiNova painted hour and minute markers, which offer excellent visibility in the dark assuming they are properly charged with light.
The real shame of an Urwerk is that more people can’t own watches like this given the prices. Whether or not you agree with the specific retail price, I think you can agree that something like this is complicated, highly-engineered, difficult to produce, and in no way could be democratically priced. Small, independent watchmakers like Urwerk rely on sympathetic benefactors who have the disposable income and product appreciation necessary to keep mechanical art like this alive. So rather than get irritated that I can’t go out and buy a UR-210 on a whim, I would rather remain happy that enough people can. Watches like this from brands like Urwerk keep the “superwatch” dream alive, and for many people are like that Lamborghini, Bugatti, Ferrari, etc.. that they can admire from afar. Price for the Urwerk UR-210 RG watch is $150,000 USD. urwerk.com
>Model: UR-210 RG
>Price: $150,000 USD
>Size: 43.8mm wide, 17.8mm thick, and 53.6mm long.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Well-funded aficionado of extreme mechanics and modern design with some available real estate on their wrist.
>Best characteristic of watch: Joy-creating wearing experience with a cool design, very useful way of reading the time, and the storytelling watch collectors enjoy that makes sharing their timepieces with others pleasurable. Easily one of the most well-rounded timepieces that Urwerk makes.
>Worst characteristic of watch: It requires an horological intellectual to fully understand (let alone know how to use) the winding efficiency selector and winding efficiency indicator complications. For the money, case could have some added hand-finishing, especially on this red gold model to bring out the shine a bit more. Sapphire crystal could benefit from a bit more AR-coating on top.