The clue to the unique proposition of Urwerk’s latest EMC Black timepiece lies in those initials, which stand for Electro Mechanical Control.
It’s a system centred on a bespoke mechanical movement, that for the first time enables the wearer to adjust things to his or her daily activities, all in the name of enhanced accuracy.
The watchmaker/designer pairing of Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei launched Urwerk in 1997, in the process shaking up the traditional approach to watchmaking and exciting collectors with highly innovative machines for the wrist.
The ENC Black continues in this vein. In addition to the conventional indications – hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve indicator – there is a patented performance indicator display in the top left-hand corner. It monitors the cog-work using advanced electronics, and is activated on demand by a push of a button.
How does this work? An optical sensor captures the timing rate of the specially designed balance wheel, after which a micro-computer then compares that rate against an ultra-fast (16,000,000 Hz) reference oscillator to calculate how regular the timing is, whether the movement is running fast or slow.
After this the wearer can adjust the movement’s precision rate accordingly, by turning a screw on the caseback. Cleverly, this changes the length of the movement’s balance spring, and voila, you have tailored precision.
And the thinking behind all this innovation?
“The mechanical watch is a sensitive organism and the timing rate of its movement can fluctuate due to several factors,” says Baumgartner. “These changes of pace and performance can easily be detected by a watchmaker, a professional who is armed with the equipment necessary for testing the accuracy of the movement.
“However, it is rare for an amateur to have these tools. But with the EMC, an amateur can have them and is able to dive into the heart of their watch, to see it live and evolve. And we even give the owner a chance to interact with it by allowing them to adjust its timing rate to better suit their daily rhythm and pace of life.”
On the wrist the watch face presents as a series of discrete, circular and crescent-shaped dials, housed in a black DLC-treated titanium and steel case – yes, resulting in a watch that even in appearance is unlike any other! And the price? You’re looking at something around $150,000.