TECH SPOT: Urwerk’s EMC movement


Urwerk’s EMC movement will give watch owners some of the precision control usually reserved for the workshop. it’s a development that will no doubt delight those who revere watchmaking as akin to godliness.

The mechanical movement, which is still in development, is intended to put more control into the hands of the watch wearer allowing them to read how accurate the timepiece is and make subsequent adjustments.

Since its foundation in 1997, Urwerk has never shied away from experimentation and innovation, particularly in its U-Research Division where the UR-CC1 King Cobra, with linear indications and the millennium-measuring UR- 1001 Zeit Device have been developed.

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Now the brand, which is split between Geneva and Zurich is focussing its expertise and pioneering spirit on creating the first mechanical timepiece with integrated intelligence, placing the power in the hands of the wearer.

“The interaction between a mechanical watch and its owner is a theme that has always inspired us,” says Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and co-founder of Urwerk. “Designing a reliable and precise mechanical timepiece is the foundation of our work. We wanted to extend our ambition by creating a precision timepiece with a system whereby the owner can accurately calculate the timing rate of the movement so that it can be finely adjusted to the owner’s lifestyle and habits. That’s the idea of EMC, which we are currently perfecting in our atelier.”

Conceived, designed, developed and manufactured by Urwerk, EMC aims to provide the watch owner with the tools to be able to assess and maintain precision themselves. Accessible at the back of the watch, the timing adjustment screw allows for very fine alterations to the balance rate regulator by changing the active length of the balance spring.

“Our goal with EMC is to give the owner of the timepiece information that, until now, has been decipherable only by a watchmaker equipped with complex apparatus,” explains Baumgartner. “To achieve this, we thought long and hard, and then created an easily useable and readable mechanism from scratch.”

The EMC movement incorporates a balance wheel made of ARCAP, an alloy with non-magnetic and anti-corrosion properties. The balance wheel was designed for optimal aerodynamics and keeping amplitude loss to a minimum. Large double mainspring barrels mounted vertically on a single shaft provide an 80-hour power reserve, resulting in stable and linear timing performance.

The timing adjustment screw at the watch back can be used to change the active length o f the balance spring, which enables very fine adjustments to the balance rate regulator giving watch enthusiasts the power to assess and adjust the precision of their watch, which is usually an ability reserved for watchmakers.

“We added an intelligent eye to our balance wheel, which will be able to measure how fast or slow it is running and translate that into seconds per day,” says Baumgartner.

Urwerk is in the midst of developing its new concept and now, Baumgartner confirms, is in the next stage of its evolution., which will entail minaturising the elements into the size of a wristwatch, which is the job of Urwerk’s designer, Martin Frei.

Electronics monitoring the movement timing consist of:
• On the balance wheel an optical sensor that can capture the precise oscillation of the 4 hertz/2,800v/h regulator
• A 16,000,000 hertz electronic oscillator, that delivers a highly precise reference rate
• An artificial intelligence module that can calculate the difference between the timing rate of the movement and that of the reference oscillator

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of WatchPro.

To read a digital version of the magazine in full online, click here

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