The One-Off Urwerk 102.02 Reloaded and the Time for Art Auction

One of the first watches launched by Urwerk, way back in 1997, was a peculiar watch called the 102, which featured a new take on the historic wandering hours display. The idea, which was centuries old, would go on to spawn a diverse collection of modern watches from the independent brand, ranging from the reserved 103, to downright show stopping watches like the 210 and 220. The original 102 has continued to hold a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts, and when we caught wind of a new one being made for the brand’s 25th anniversary (and to benefit the Swiss Institute at auction), it sparked a load of nostalgia, and a newfound curiosity around the visual trick up its sleeve. Prior to the auction, we had the opportunity to see the watch in person and experience the impressive effect ourselves. 

Like the original, the latest 102 (the 102.02 Reloaded, fittingly) features a smooth, pebble-like case that’s almost entirely uniform. There is no traditional round viewing window that opens up to a dial with hands and numerals. Instead, an arched window restricts our view to only the current hour as it passes along a minute track. Not dissimilar to other, more open Urwerk watches, but here there is a serenity to the case, and there’s something poetic about the single wandering hour making its way across the track, with no perceptible movement to distract you.


There may be no perceptible movement, but that doesn’t mean the dial is static. The 102.02 was done in collaboration with Miami based artist, Cooper Jacoby. The dial components we can see have been coated in a temperature sensitive paint, that shifts hue with the slightest shifts in surrounding temperatures. This creates a dial that can change from deep brown to bright green or purple within moments, making for a slightly different experience everytime you look at the watch. 

We sat with the watch for around an hour, trying it on, placing it on different surfaces, cupping it in our hands, and each time I glanced at it I noticed a different color. It’s incredibly dynamic and brings the artistic vision to the forefront, trapping the passage of the hour (a process we can’t see) within an ever changing aesthetic that reacts not only to the environment, to the wrist of the wearer. An hour passing is predictable, but it’s being presented in a way that’s anything but. 

The piece unique 102.02 Reloaded would go on to sell for $403,200 at auction the following weekend. The proceeds, along with that of 16 other watches within the auction, will go to the benefit of the Swiss Institute, a non-profit contemporary art institute that provides educational experiences free and open to the public. The Institute “serves as a platform for emerging artists, catalyzes new perspectives on celebrated work, and fosters appreciation for under-recognized positions.”

Urwerk, along with others like Chanel, Hermes, Laurant Ferrier, and Unimatic X Massena LAB, each made unique pieces to be auctioned with the Phillips New York Watch Auction: SEVEN, where the 17 lots were inserted into the broader auction as a whole. Side note, the auction also included a unique Grand Seiko Kodo, which fetched $478,800. See our video on that watch featuring Grand Seiko’s Joe Kirk right here.

As incredible as this 102.02 Reloaded and the auction results were to behold, it had me wondering, hoping for a return to the 102 as a platform from Urwerk. It is a distillation of the brand in its purest form, and as much I love their crazier ideas, there’s an elegance about the 102 and 103 that I’d love to see reworked in their modern design language. That was the most exciting thing about seeing this watch, and it provided a glimpse into what that might look like. Here’s hoping we see more along those lines in the coming year. Stay tuned for more. Urwerk.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.