MEASURING THE ROOTS OF TIME
URWERK is a translation of the hearts and minds of its founding partners, creating a language of poetic watchmaking.
Felix Baumgartner, a watchmaker like his father and grandfather, has time running through his veins. A graduate of the Schaffhausen watchmaking school, Baumgartner learned the secret language of minute repeaters, tourbillons and perpetual calendars at his father’s bench. Martin Frei is the artistic counterweight to his partner’s technical expertise. At the Lucerne School of Art and Design, Martin delved into various visual artistic expressions, from painting and sculpture to video, emerging as a mature artist. The two met by chance and discovered a common fascination with the measurement of time, spending hours analyzing the gap between the watches they saw in the shops and the vision of their future creation.
“Bringing out yet another version of an existing mechanical complication was not our aim,” Baumgartner says. “Our watches are unique because each has been conceived as an original work. Above all, we want to explore beyond the traditional horizons of watchmaking.”
Frei helps make this possible. “I come from a world of total creative freedom. I’m not cast in the watchmaking mould, so I can draw my inspiration from my entire cultural heritage.” That heritage is reflected in the name of their company, which means “original accomplishment.” The name stems from the Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia, where the Sumerians observed the concurrence of the heavenly bodies with the seasons, and so developed the first measurements of time.