Only Watch 2021: Urwerk UR-102 “Gaïa”

A historical watch upgraded for the future.

While several of the watchmakers taking part in Only Watch 2021 have turned to historical timepieces for inspiration, all have created new watches for the biennial charity auction, except for Urwerk. An intriguing blend of new and vintage, the UR-102 “Gaïa” is actually one of the brand’s earliest watches that’s been given a new case back decor.

Launched in 1997, the UR-102 had a low-cost aluminium case contrasted with a platinum case back, along with a wandering hours display. Urwerk retrieved an original example of the UR-102 to create the Gaïa, which is named after the watchmaking industry prize Urwerk’s twin founders received in 2020. The Gaïa preserves the aluminium case and movement, but its platinum back has been finished with a speckled, blue-lacquer motif inspired by the Gaïa Prize trophy.

Initial thoughts

While the complexity and materials of the UR-102 “Gaïa” pale in comparison to the brand’s modern-day creations, the Gaïa is significant for the brand both intrinsically and philosophically. The watch itself is historically important, being one of the brand’s first watches, while the reference to the Gaïa Prize is a symbol of Urwerk’s success since the difficult early days when the UR-102 was introduced.

In fact, the watch encapsulates Urwerk’s progress over the past 25 years in a tangible sense, with the aluminium case of its early days now bearing the Gaïa Prize motif that exemplifies its success.


The Gaïa retains much of the original UR-102, a model that was designed by Martin Frei, with its movement built by Felix Baumgartner. And the case was machined and finished by Felix’s brother, Thomas, who departed Urwerk not long after its founding.

Still the original aluminium, the case has been sandblasted and then anodised to give it a pale grey colour. Inside is an ETA automatic movement modified to accommodate a wandering hours display.

The platinum case back has been milled out to create a circular emblem resembling the trophy awarded to winners of the Gaïa Prize, a crystal sphere with an inclined column extending out from its centre. The emblem is lacquered in dark blue with tiny speckles that call to mind the night sky, “symbolising Urwerk’s unswerving resolve to reach for the stars”.

Key facts and price

Urwerk UR-102 “Gaïa”

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 12 mm
Material: Anodised aluminium with lacquered, platinum case back
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Ur-102
Functions: Wandering hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle, additional strap in black fabric

Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 32,000-75,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit


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Only Watch 2021: Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire

A delightful skull in orange crystal.

Bell & Ross has long featured the skull on its watches, a motif derived from its military-inspired designs. Modelled on the skull emblem often used by airborne units, the B&R skull watch has been refined over the years, with the latest being an all-ceramic wristwatch incorporating an automaton.

For Only Watch 2021, the watchmaker has created the BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire, a vivid, orange-tinted crystal skull encased in clear sapphire. It’s entirely incongruent with the brand’s typical no-no-nonsense aesthetic, but strikingly upbeat.

Initial thoughts

The original Cyber Skull is interesting for its materials and form movement featuring an automaton, making it a good base for the Only Watch edition, which departs from the all-black look in the direction of attractive and quirky.

Bell & Ross didn’t disappoint in its Only Watch endeavour. Clean, contemporary, and clear, the sapphire version is completely different from its past skull watches. The watch has a bright feel, with the orange being bringing levity (and echoing the colours of Only Watch 2021).

And it’s a big plus that the watch is technically unusual. While most B&R watches are powered by off-the-shelf ETA or Sellita movements (which, to be fair are unfailingly reliable), the Cyber Skull Sapphire is equipped with a proprietary movement in the shape of a skull.

It’s always the most valuable watches offered by high horology brands that get the most attention at Only Watch, so the more affordable watches in the auction are worth a look, and Cyber Skull Sapphire is one of them.

Clear case

While sapphire crystal isn’t novel – the first watch case in the material was introduced three decades ago by Alain Silberstein – it’s still relatively uncommon enough to make it interesting with the right execution. The visual impact of the form movement is unleashed with the all-sapphire case, which amplifies the airy construction and orange skull.

B&R cases are excellent, even for its affordable models, and this sapphire case looks to be precisely machined and finished. Both the crystal case and skull are made up of polygonal surfaces, featuring angular, sharp facets that call for complex machining to accomplish. The skull, for instance, starts out as six blocks of sapphire, each machined into one component of the skull.

Key facts and price

Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Sapphire
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: BR-CAL.206
Functions: Hours and minutes with skull automaton
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Rubber

Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 90,000-110,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit


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Only Watch 2021: Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon

Telling the time on Mars, gravity be damned.

An inventive watchmaker based in Russia, Konstantin Chaykin has combined two of his most notable timepieces to create a unique wristwatch for Only Watch 2021. Bearing a face that resembles his signature Joker, the Martian Tourbillon tells the time on Mars, just like the Mars Conquerer he debuted last year. More intriguingly, the watch is equipped with a tourbillon regulator that makes one revolution every Martian minute – or 61.65 seconds.

Initial thoughts

Konstantin never fails to impress with his unorthodox approach to watchmaking. The Martian Tourbillon lives up to that reputation. It is quirky, odd, and thoroughly interesting.

Given that it indicates time on Mars, its utility here on Earth will be limited, but the Martian Tourbillon encapsulates Konstantin’s versatile and comprehensive approach to a unique timepiece for Only Watch (which was very much the case for his 2019 creation). The Martian Tourbillon even incorporates a literal Martian tourbillon regulator, while having a case made of medieval Russian steel.

The only images available of the watch for now are renderings, but I very much look forward to seeing this in person.

Martian face

The face of the watch indicates the hours on the left sub-dial, while minutes are within the right sub-dial.

Just below the “nose” is a half-month indicator for the Darian calendar, invented by aerospace engineer Thomas Gangale for future human colonisers of the Red Planet.

And the “smile” indicates sols, or Martian days, on two rows, with the day of the week symbols in between.

The hand-wind cal. K.22-0 inside the Martian Tourbillon is equipped with a literal Martian tourbillon. Its carriage makes one revolution every Martian minute, or 61.65 minutes in Earth time, “partially reducing the effects of Mars’ gravity” according to Konstantin.

A modest 40 mm in diameter, the case is made of bulat, a steel alloy with a high carbon content that is comparable to ancient Damascus Steel (and not the modern-day, pattern-welded steels of the same name). Used to produce edged weapons and cannons in Russia, bulat has been used by Konstantin in the past, most notably for the case of the lunar rover-inspired Lunokhod.

Key facts and price

Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon Only Watch 2021 Piece Unique

Case diameter: 40 mm
Case height: Unavailable
Material: Bulat steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. K.22-0
Functions: Martian time display, Martian calendar, and 61.65-minute tourbillon regulator
Frequency: Unavailable
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: Unavailable

Strap: Alligator with bulat steel pin buckle

Limited edition: Piece unique
 To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 40,000-60,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit


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