De Fifth Wrist.
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First, a little background story. I’ve always collected independents, ever since I first started really getting into watches in the mid-late 00’s. I found myself naturally gravitating towards indies because I always enjoyed things that represented real craftsmanship, rarity, and the connection you felt to not only the makers of these works of art, but also other enthusiasts in the same tribe as you. Back then, there were a few real pioneers of independent watchmaking, including Max Buesser with the Opus series, Vianney Halter, Journe and the lads from Urwerk. I recall seeing an advert in International Watch Magazine for an Urwerk 103 Tarantula and it totally blew my mind. It was just so different to everything else out on the market, something that felt truly revolutionary in terms of design, and an amazing mix of organic, flowing shapes with futuristic, avant-garde design. I knew one day in my watch collecting journey I needed to have one.
Fast forward eleven years, and even after having over five hundred watches pass through my hands, an Urwerk was still the pinnacle for me and I decided to take the plunge to obtain my horological dream. I find every watch Urwerk has ever made to be very desirable, but there’s a few that really stand out to me. The UR-210, and the 103. The 103 is particularly special in the Urwerk timeline as it was the watch that defined their design language for the next two decades, and really launched the brand into the watch collecting lexicon. The 103 series contained quite a few references in differing materials and designs. The Tarantula is special as it started the Urwerk love affair for me, as is the TiAIN coated 103.08 with it’s sharply cut sapphire crystal, but the one that stands out most to me is the 103.05.
This piece is crafted from a solid block of platinum, which in-itself is amazing given the complex shapes. It takes four and a half weeks to program the CNC machine, three weeks to adjust the tools, two days to cut the case, and the tools must be replaced every five cases. While this is mind blowing, the 103.05 is not the only platinum piece in the series. What makes it so special is the side-windows carved into the case. While this may seem like a gimmick, it is anything but. Staring at that movement is phenomenal anytime, but the light these windows allow into the movement, and the visual weight they remove from the watch elevate it above all others. The way light flows over and into the case, especially at sunset, is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in the horological world. It will never get old.
What’s it like as an actual watch to wear? Surprisingly practical is the answer. While people assume it would be difficult to wear and read, that’s not the case. The case is about 50mm long, which is about the same as a Tudor Black Bay. The underslung lugs even shorter. The wide strap balances the heavy case, and legibility is great once you understand it. Treat it as looking in 5 minute increments and it’s super easy to read at a glance, and especially so when it is on an angle such as when your hand is on the steering wheel.
Downsides? Servicing is expensive and can take a while. I can’t see any aftermarket strap retailers, and would love a rubber option for summer, though the ‘gator is extremely comfortable for all other seasons. It’s also not a cheap watch, but then based on what goes into it, and compared with other high end Indies, it’s justifiable in my opinion. The platinum case can be a little shiny during the day, but this is easily offset by the lustre it takes on in fading light. So does it meet all my expectations? Yes, all of them and more. I bought it sight unseen, had never tried a 103 on, and only ever tried one other Urwerk on before, so the risk was high. I’m glad I took it though as it really is out of this world.
- Outstanding craftsmanship
- Totally unique
- That curved sapphire…mindblowing
- Ain’t cheap…
- Servicing costs and options
- Strap choices
- Quality 0%
- Style 0%
- Value 0%
- Wearability 0%
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