Urwerk Teams up with Artist Cooper Jacoby for a One of a Kind Version of the Classic UR-102

Every watch that Urwerk makes is special, simply by virtue of their incredibly small yearly production. While numbers have reportedly gone up in the last few years, as recently as 2020 the Geneva based brand was only making around 150 pieces per year. Even in the world of high end Swiss watchmaking, the Urwerk community is one that is comparatively small. So when news of a one-off Urwerk hits our inbox, we take notice. Because even a single watch represents a significant allocation of resources for a brand that’s so small. Urwerk’s latest project, a piece unique version of the 102 made in collaboration with Miami based artist Cooper Jacoby for an upcoming auction, is whimsical and fun in a way that feels unique to Urwerk, yet the design of this particular watch feels like something of a departure. 


This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Urwerk brand, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the 102 is getting another look, as it was the first collaboration between founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. The UR-102 “Reloaded” seen here is a tribute to that first watch and a fitting entry in the Time for Art auction that will be held in New York as part of the larger Phillips auction taking place in December. Time for Art is the first ever benefit watch auction conceived to support contemporary artists, and is run by the Swiss Institute, an independent arts organization with a focus on promoting experimental art. Martin Frei, having created the United Swiss Artists Association with a group of like minded friends in New York shortly after graduating from art school, understandably feels a connection to the Institute’s mission. “It is the same philosophy that I find in the approach of the Swiss Institute,” he has said of his own U.S.A. Association. “Our involvement in this project was therefore self-evident.”

As you might expect given the nature of the auction where the UR-102 “Reloaded” is featured, the aesthetic design is largely the work of an up and coming artist and sculptor, Cooper Jacoby. Jacoby is known for his work with materials and finding interesting ways to treat metals like nickel and copper, and he has also used rubber and silicon in his work. For the UR-102, Jacoby has infused the familiar Urwerk wandering hour display with thermochromic pigments that are constantly reacting to temperature. That means that as the day goes on and the UR-102 is exposed to different temperatures in and outdoors (and as your own body temperature changes) the appearance of the time telling display changes as well. Cooler temperatures will result in a dial that takes on red and pink tones, and warmer temps give way to greens, blues, and purples.

On the technical side, the watch runs on Urwerk’s in-house caliber 2.02, which is an automatic movement with around 48 hours of power reserve. The case is in titanium and measures 41mm in diameter and 11.3mm thick. A notable feature of the case that differentiates it from the original UR-102 is the crown. On this new version, the crown is the 4:00 position and recessed into the case, giving the watch the sleek and futuristic appearance you’d want from a piece like this. The original is one of the few Urwerks with a traditional crown in the traditional spot, and seeing images of those early watches is always a reminder of how the brand’s aesthetic gradually shifted into what it is today. 

The Time for Art auction will be held in New York City on December 10. Other participants in the auction include Chopard, Romain Gauthier, Laurent Ferrier, Unimatic, and many more. We’ll have more on the other lots in the auction soon, but in the meantime you can check them out here.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.