Watch aficionados are used to seeing reptilian scaled patterns on leather straps, but the new Urwerk UR-105 T-Rex — unveiled at SIHH 2016 in January and equipped with the iconoclastic brand’s unique satellite-hours timekeeping system — may be the first timepiece to bring such a motif to a watch case as well.
The UR-105 T-Rex derives its Jurassic-Park-evocative nickname from its pebble-shaped bronze case that is crisscrossed by a raised, concentrically ribbed pattern that resembles scaled reptilian skin and feels soft and tree-bark-like to the touch. As in the very few other watches with bronze cases — recent examples include Oris’s Carl Brashear Limited Edition and Panerai’s Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo — this one’s case will “age” noticeably with along with its owner, developing a one-of-a-kind patina. To achieve the dinosaur-skin look, each case is bead-blasted, micro-sandblasted, purified and oxidized with a brush.
The watch’s unconventional timekeeping system (a hallmark of the Urwerk brand) doesn’t reach quite as far back into prehistoric times for its inspiration as does its case, but it does pay tribute to a system developed in the second millennium B.C. by the ancient Sumerians, who told time by shadows cast by the sun as it played across giant monuments between rising and setting. Four satellites, each with three hour numerals, rotate on a hidden carousel and follow a “minute rail” along the bottom. Each hour numeral has a minute pointer that indicates the proper minute on the rail and travels, like the sun, in an east to west direction. When an hour concludes and another one begins, a new satellite with hour numeral emerges from concealment, beneath a cover made of a high-tech material called PEEK (polyetheretherketone) and begins a new journey across the minute rail.
The caseback of the UR-105 T-Rex is made of black PVD-coated titanium and features a sapphire caseback that shows off the in-house movement, Caliber 5.02 UR, and specifically the two miniature turbines that regulate the movement’s automatic winding. In the “FULL” position, the winding is optimized by the turbines, meaning even the slightest movements of the wrist will help tighten the mainspring. In “STOP” mode, automatic winding system is disabled and the watch can only be hand-wound via the crown. The third intermediate “RED” position (for “REDUCED”) moderates the winding to avoid excessive tension on the mainspring.
The movement’s carousel and triple mainplates are made of ARCAP; the hour satellites in beryllium bronze. It has a 48-hour power reserve and a 28,800-vph (4 Hz) frequency and boasts surface finishes that include circular graining, bead-blasting, satin finishing, and beveled screw heads. The case measures 39.5 by 53 mm in diameter and 16.8 thick and is water-resistant to 30 meters. The Urwerk UR-105 “T-Rex” is a limited edition of only 22 pieces, priced at $68,000.