Avant garde watchmaker Urwerk plans new timepiece, codenamed ‘Moose’

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Urwerk is set to unveil its new timepiece this year nicknamed after the large North American mammal

Urwerk’s watches are inspired by themes such as space shuttle cockpits, the speed of light and science fiction TV shows like Star Trek

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Urwerk plans to unveil an ambitious timepiece with a new complication and high powered mechanism toward the end of this year.

The project, internally nicknamed the ‘Moose’ because one of the watch’s features resembles the large North American mammal, is scheduled to launch in October, founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei tell Bloomberg News in an interview on the outskirts of New Delhi.

“The performance of this mechanism – of this carousel complication we are creating – is double what we do usually, in terms of energy and power,” Baumgartner says. About 100 pieces of the titanium-steel watch will be shipped to retailers over three years, he adds.

Baumgartner, the grandson of an IWC Schaffhausen watchmaker, and Frei, Urkwerk’s chief designer, started the company in 1997.

Their watches tell time in unique ways and come with detailed manuals. Often, they are inspired by themes such as space shuttle cockpits, the speed of light and science fiction TV shows like Star Trek.

With a staff of 25, Urwerk produces just over 200 watches annually at two ateliers in Geneva and Zurich. Its ultrarich customers include such celebrities as Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr., American basketball legend Michael Jordan and fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

While the US is Urwerk’s biggest market by sales, the brand’s popularity is surging in Asian markets such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and India, the duo says. Urwerk launched in India in early 2020 via homegrown luxury watch retailer Ethos Ltd.

“We have a very good start, but we do not have enough products,” Baumgartner says of India, whose healthy economy is spurring a boom in demand for luxury goods. “We cannot really test the demand.”

About 15 Urwerk watches are sold annually in India, with all the stock pre-booked before it’s shipped into the country, says Pranav Shankar Saboo, chief executive officer of Ethos.

Urwerk’s brand has plenty of room for growth in India, and Ethos is seeking to get more watches, adds Saboo.

Nonetheless, the independent Swiss watchmaker has no plan to introduce lower-priced models or increase production beyond current levels. During its early years, Baumgartner and Frei toyed with the idea of making affordable watches but realised it was nearly impossible to manufacture Urwerk’s niche products – with all the research, development and collaboration among engineers and scientists – at a lower price.

“You need to go up to 10,000 pieces when you are in 10,000 Swiss Francs (€10,609),” Baumgartner says. “And then you become a different company, and this is not our wish.”