Urwerk Unveils the UR-220 SL Asimov in Carbon and Lume

Night is coming but fortunately the cubes glow.

Launched last year, the Urwerk UR-220 ‘Falcon Project’ is a thinner, lighter, and manual-wind version of the watch kitted out with the brand’s trademark satellite-cube display.

Now Urwerk has launched the first iteration of its flagship model, the UR-220 SL Asimov. Dressed up with a generous dose of glow-in-the-dark Super-Luminova, the UR-2202 SL has the satellite cubes made of resin infused with Super-Luminova, so each cube glows in its entirety.

The luminous display partly explains the name of the watch, which is a reference to Nightfall, the novel by Isaac Asimov about a planet in perpetual daylight that finally experiences night – which brings madness and catastrophe. Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, the inventive duo behind Urwerk have long had a distinctive brand of humour.

Initial thoughts

Often matched with an all-black case, a stylised display in yellow-green lume has long been a key part of Urwerk’s aesthetic, especially for its satellite-cube display watches starting with the UR-201. That makes the solid, lume cubes a coherent addition to the UR-220, both philosophically and stylistically – they are a perfect fit for sci fi-techno style of the watch.

Admittedly, the luminous cubes are not a major innovation, but they add almost nothing to the price of the watch. The UR-220 SL Asimov is just CHF2,000 over the standard UR-220 – modest for an upgrade that boosts the visual appeal of the watch.

Nevertheless, the novelty of the lume cubes will wear off if they are deployed extensively across the model range. But for now, the UR-220 SL Asimov is cool.

Carbon and lume

The luminous cubes are the key differentiating feature of the UR-220 SL, short for “Super-Luminova”. While Urwerk traditionally relied on brass cubes produced via CNC milling for the hour display, the new watch features cubes made of luminous resin.

The resin contains Super-Luminova, a non-radioactive compound composed mainly of strontium aluminate, which absorbs light during the day and then glows at night over several hours. Unlike ordinary displays that have luminous numerals, the cubes have engraved numerals filled with black lacquer, creating a negative image of the numeral in the dark.

Cast in a silicon mould, the resin cubes are almost as hard as equivalents in ceramic according to Urwerk. They are produced by RC Tritec, a Swiss specialist that’s a leading supplier of lume to the watch industry. The firm has supplied solid lume to other watchmakers, but the cubes in the UR-220 SL are likely the largest solid-lume parts found in a watch.

The rest of the UR-220 SL is identical to the standard model. The case is made of a carbon composite known as Carbon CTP, with its layers of carbon visible, creating a concentric, banded pattern on the case surface.

As is tradition for Urwerk, the case back is black-coated titanium. It contains the service indicator that keeps count of the movement’s running time until 39 months, after which a service is recommended.

The calibre within is a manual-wind movement based on the Zenith Elite, which is ordinarily an automatic but has been modified to remove the self-winding mechanism. Because it is hand wind, the UR-220 is just 14.8 mm high, quite a bit thinner than its automatic counterpart, the UR-210, which is 17.8 mm.

Key facts and price

UR-220 SL Asimov

Case diameter: 43.8 mm by 53.6 mm
Height: 14.8 mm
Material: Carbon CTP with titanium case back
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: UR-7.20
Features: Satellite cube hours and retrograde minutes; double power-reserve displays; and “oil change” indicator
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wind
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Rubber with Velcro fastener

Availability: Already at Urwerk retailers
Price: 147,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit Urwerk.com.


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