Since its inception in 1997, Urwerk has been exploring new avenues and meeting new challenges. Some of the wildest projects have emerged from URWERK's U-Research Division – the brand’s ‘experimental laboratory’ – such as the UR-CC1 “King Cobra” with its linear indications, and the millennium-measuring UR- 1001 “Zeit Device”.
This innovative, antiestablishment spirit has now been channelled into a watchmaking Holy Grail: the first mechanical ‘smart’ watch movement: the EMC
“The interaction between a mechanical watch and its owner is a theme that has always inspired us,” says Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and co-founder of Urwerk. “Designing a reliable and precise mechanical timepiece is the foundation of our work. We wanted to extend our ambition by creating a precision timepiece with a system whereby the owner can accurately calculate the timing rate of the movement so that it can be finely adjusted to the owner’s lifestyle and habits. That's the idea of EMC, which we are currently perfecting in our atelier.”
EMC has been conceived, designed, developed and manufactured by Urwerk. The challenge here is to provide watch connoisseurs not only a precision timepiece, but also the tools to assess and maintain precision. “Our goal with EMC is to give the owner of the timepiece information that, until now, has been decipherable only by a watchmaker equipped with complex apparatus,” says Felix Baumgartner. “To achieve this, we thought long and hard, and then created an easily useable and readable mechanism from scratch.”
The EMC manufacture movement features:
- A balance wheel made of ARCAP, an alloy with non-magnetic and anti-corrosion properties. The highly original balance wheel was designed for optimal aerodynamics and minimal amplitude loss.
- Power comes from large double mainspring barrels mounted vertically on a single shaft. These provide an 80-hour power reserve, which ensures stable and linear timing performance.
- The timing adjustment screw is accessible on the back of the watch, and enables very fine adjustments to the balance rate regulator by changing the active length of the balance spring.
The electronics monitoring the movement timing consist of:
- An optical sensor on the balance wheel that can capture the precise rate of oscillation of the 4 hertz / 28,800 v/h regulator.
- A 16,000,000-hertz electronic oscillator that provides an extremely precise reference rate.
- An artificial intelligence module capable of calculating the difference between the timing rate of the movement and that of the reference oscillator.
“EMC is revolutionary in the world of watchmaking,” says Felix Baumgartner. “We added an intelligent eye to our balance wheel which will be able to measure how fast or slow it is running and translate that into seconds per day.”
The first chapter in the creation of the EMC begins here. The concept has now been revealed and its implementation is underway. “The challenge is now in the hands of Urwerk’s designer, Martin Frei, and our engineers,” says Felix. “It is now a question of miniaturising all these elements to fit the size of a wristwatch. The EMC adventure is up and running – this is just the start of something big.”