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Urwerk - The Hottest Colour

Urwerk The Hottest Colour

The new URWERK UR100V UltraViolet puts a new spin on the colour spectrum

Pop quiz! What colour indicates high temperatures? If you’re like me, you would have answered “red” (also because my answer to almost anything colour-related is “red”). If you’re scientifically minded, you would have picked blue, because you know that the hottest stars in the universe emit blue light, that blue flames burn hotter than red flames, and a bunch of other nerdy stuff like that. If you’re like Jordy Bellido (ie, someone who has very intelligently developed a strong sense of peril whenever I ask a seemingly simple question), you would cautiously venture, “It depends.” And, in that last instance, you would be correct. It was a trick question. 

In an everyday sense, we tend to think that red means hot and blue means cold. It’s a pretty universal assumption, which is good, otherwise we’d have a lot of accidents involving hot and cold water taps. We flush red when we’ve spent too long in the sun, and we take on a bluish tinge when we’re silly (or drunk) enough to venture out of the chalet without adequate bodily coverage. In different contexts, we understand that glowing red embers are the secret to a delicious barbecue whilst the blue-white flames of a gas furnace will incinerate anything it touches. 

But what about the colour in between red and blue? What about purple? Purple is an odd shade. In kindergarten we’re told by teachers that mixing blue and red paint gives you purple. In practice, you find that mixing red and blue paint results in some kind of undefinably horrible muddy colour that leaves you with early childhood trauma from being lied to by authority figures. That’s not hot at all.

La couleur la plus chaude

Ultra Violet 100V © Urwerk

Later on, scarred by pre-school experiences with uncooperative art supplies and falsehoods spread by educators, you might decide to take an ice-cold, logic-based approach to investigating purple and its related hues. You might discover that — shock and horror! — purple doesn’t actually exist on the visible light spectrum, the range of electromagnetic energy wavelengths that we perceive as colour. The closest thing to purple on the visible light spectrum is violet, and it’s not even supposed to look purple at all. Because of how our brains are programmed to respond to the visual information received by our eyes, the intense blue towards the high-frequency, low-wavelength end of the visible light spectrum is interpreted by our brain as a purplish colour. Violet light triggers both the blue and red colour receptors in our eyes even though there is no red light present, and our brain then tells us we’re looking at something purple. Cool, right? (On the other hand, definitely not cool for our brains to be lying to us like that, like kindergarten teachers.)

But let’s say you then subsequently grow up and happen to develop a career in watch journalism, and one day in the summer of 2022, come across a watch called the UR100V UltraViolet, made by URWERK, a brand you really appreciate. You listen to co-founder and head designer Martin Frei talk about the mystical boundary between the seen and unseen, about reality and our brain’s interpretation of it. You’re looking at a watch that looks purple (a colour that doesn’t exist on the visible light spectrum), that evokes violet (a colour that our brains are unable to correctly process), and is called UltraViolet (a colour our eyes cannot even perceive). 

At this point, you’re burning up with intellectual stimulation, a condition not improved by URWERK’s other co-founder, head watchmaker Felix Baumgartner. He points out the new hours carousel, with an easier-to-read configuration. He re-explains the other two indications, located on the side of the watch: rotational distance travelled in 20 minutes by the Earth’s surface as measured at the Equator, and distance travelled in 20 minutes by the Earth along its orbit. As our planet zips along in space, what role can a mechanical watch play in such a cosmic act? Space is, by the way, suffused with ultraviolet radiation. The atmosphere of the Earth actually blocks 77 per cent of the UV rays that emanate from the Sun. Lucky for us, since life is better without the everyday risk of being burned to a crisp. The UR100V UltraViolet is a good reminder of how fortunate we are that Earth exists in what astrobiologists call the Goldilocks zone, the habitable circumstellar area that is neither too near nor too far from the Sun. It’s not too hot, and it’s not too cold.

So what temperature is purple? Because we’ve learned from the lessons of the first paragraph, we know the answer is, “it depends.” But if we’re talking about the URWERK UR100V UltraViolet, then clearly it’s the hottest colour there is. 



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