Since its debut on the watch scene in 1997, Urwerk has been making strides in the field of independent horology, with the emphasis on “independent.” And the just-introduced UR-100V Stardust is one more example of the young brand’s commitment to autonomous design and research, and the use of interesting materials and hand-rendered finishes to craft its timepieces.
While the new UR-100V Stardust watch comprises all of the elements of haute horlogerie like its well-known brethren in the 100 collection, diamonds take center stage here and give new reference to the word “stardust”—at least when it comes to watches.
“The entire universe is composed of stellar particles, making their presence inevitable in all the forms of matter that surround us.” says Urwerk’s artistic director and co-founder, Martin Frei. “Whether in their raw or transformed state, from carbon to cut diamonds, from iron mineral to steel alloy, this stardust is omnipresent.”
Four hundred diamonds decorate the 41.0mm x 49.7mm case of the UR-100V Stardust. For this sparkling feat of celestial design, snow-setting was chosen as the preferred method of diamond setting, which is a difficult technique at best and even more difficult when the stones are set in steel, as they are here.
“We wanted a setting reminiscent of the starry heavens, with nothing at all uniform, more like ordered chaos,” says Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and co-founder of Urwerk. “It wasn’t so much the size of the stones that was important to us as their arrangement, this almost random design.” Like the cosmos.
If you’re familiar with snow-setting or pave-setting, where stones are set closely together to achieve a unified look, you’ll know that a quick test of the quality of the work is to run your fingers over the stones. Their assemblage should feel smooth, with no sharp edges or vexing unevenness in height. But since steel is much harder—and less malleable—than gold, a high degree of craftsmanship was required to achieve the results Urwerk was aiming for.
The minutes scale, located on the upper part of the railway-style track, is studded with 36 diamonds, while 24 decorate the watch’s crown. Even the steel pin buckle is set with two rows of diamonds, 11 per row.
Inside and out
The watch’s 40-jewel wandering hour movement, the self-winding UR 12.02 (governed by a Windfänger airscrew), features satellite hours and minutes; the kilometer counter signifies the Earth’s rotation in 20 minutes, while a second kilometer counter indicates the distance traveled by the Earth around the sun in the same period of time. The movement’s exquisite decoration includes circular graining and satin finishing, sanding, shot blasting, and the use of chamfered screw heads. The caseback is shot-blasted titanium and is fitted with a sapphire glass for a mesmerizing view of the movement. The watch has been pressure tested for water resistance at 3ATM.
The UR-100V Stardust is a limited production of just ten examples per year, each priced at CHF 88,000.