Wearables

Uwerk EMC merges electronics with precision watchmaking

The Urwerk EMC uses mechanical and electronic systems to regulate its accuracy
The Urwerk EMC uses mechanical and electronic systems to regulate its accuracy
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The Urwerk EMC is currently listed as "experimental"
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The Urwerk EMC is currently listed as "experimental"
The Urwerk EMC uses mechanical and electronic systems to regulate its accuracy
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The Urwerk EMC uses mechanical and electronic systems to regulate its accuracy
Detail of the Urwerk EMC's movement
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Detail of the Urwerk EMC's movement
How the Urwerk EMC works
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How the Urwerk EMC works
The Urwerk EMC's movement contains an built-in electronics board
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The Urwerk EMC's movement contains an built-in electronics board
The Urwerk EMC on the bench
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The Urwerk EMC on the bench
The Urwerk EMC in alternative color
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The Urwerk EMC in alternative color
The Urwerk EMC showing the manual winder for the generator
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The Urwerk EMC showing the manual winder for the generator
The Urwerk EMC in sketches
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The Urwerk EMC in sketches
The Urwerk EMC showing the spring drums
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The Urwerk EMC showing the spring drums
The Urwerk EMC is regulated by an optical sensor
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The Urwerk EMC is regulated by an optical sensor
The Urwerk EMC has an 80 hour power reserve
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The Urwerk EMC has an 80 hour power reserve

Last year, Swiss watchmaker Urwerk announced that it was working on a wristwatch containing the world's first mechanical movement with an electronic monitoring system. The fruits of its of labor are now on display in the Urwerk Electro Mechanical Control (EMC) watch, which uses advanced electronics to monitor the precision movement’s performance within 10 microseconds.

Theoretically, a wristwatch should work as well as the best ship’s chronometer, but riding on a wrist isn't the best place for accurate timekeeping. It’s bit like those thermometers found on some digital watches. They may be good thermometers, but the temperature they usually display is that of your wrist.

It’s the same with a wrist chronometer. Acceleration, changes in position, temperature, and pressure, all add up. You could eliminate all this by not wearing the watch and keeping it in a an air-tight case, but Urwerk points out that that defeats the purpose of a watch, so the next best thing is to find out how much the watch is straying from perfect time and compensate. And that is what the EMC does; monitor the movement's timing rate and tells you by how much to adjust it.

The Urwerk EMC's movement contains an built-in electronics board
The Urwerk EMC's movement contains an built-in electronics board

The key to this is the delta/δ indicator found on the EMC’s face among the circular and crescent subdials displaying hours, minutes, seconds and the power reserve indicator. The delta/δ indicator activates with one touch of a button and gives an instantaneous readout of the watch’s performance within a range of variation of up to minus 20 and plus 20 seconds per day. Using this information the wearer can then turn a screw on the reverse of the watch, so it runs neither too fast, nor too slow.

That simple looking indicator is backed by some sophisticated technology with a electronics board built into the movement. This uses an optical sensor to monitor the bespoke balance wheel and compares the balance wheel rate against a 16 million Hz reference oscillator. The difference is calculated in the watch and displayed on the delta/δ indicator, which is accurate to within 10 microseconds.

In a neat effort to keep batteries out of the argument, Urwerk has installed a supercapacitor charged by a micro-generator made by the Swiss company Maxon, which is powered by a handle built into the watch.

The Urwerk EMC showing the manual winder for the generator
The Urwerk EMC showing the manual winder for the generator

This is all tucking inside a DLC-treated titanium and steel case measuring 43 mm x 51 mm x 15.8 mm with a shot-blasted finish. There’s a sapphire crystal and the whole thing is water resistant to 30 m (100 ft, 3 ATM). Inside is the manually-wound UR-EMC calibre movement developed and manufactured by Urwerk, powered by vertically mounted double mainspring barrels, connected in series with a Swiss lever escapement and a bespoke balance wheel made of non-magnetic, anti-corrosive ARCAP P40 alloy coupled to the optical sensor.

“EMC is an ode to the mechanical watch and craft of the watchmaker,” says Felix Baumgartner, master watchmaker and co-founder of URWERK. “The mechanical watch is a sensitive organism and the timing rate of its movement can fluctuate due to several factors. 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.”

The Urwerk EMC has a quoted retail price of $120,000 in North America and is a limited run of 55 examples.

The video below introduces the Urwerk EMC.

Source: Urwerk

Urwerk EMC

7 comments
David Wei
Seiko, been there, done that, and the watch adjust itself, instead of having you to do it. No cranks, no dorky mini gauges, no need to know how far off your watch is, and no need to adjust the timing Best of all, it is available for about 3 to 4 grands, you can buy 30 to 40 grand Seiko with Urwerk's price. Check out Seiko spring drive below www.grand-seiko.com/manufacture/9r-springdrive.html here's another video about the movement: www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8siXmlwPzI&feature=youtu.be Which should better show that it adjust automatically and continually via applying electromagnetic brake to the spring's power output. Their web page must be written by marketing guys, on and on about useless info.... To bad I can't afford either, or that Solar Astron that I really wanted.
Gent
This news has age 1 year ...))) Urverk different from Seiko that has a mechanical regulator. This is their philosophy. Electronics only to verify the accuracy. But you can not verify. A Seiko - it's just a quartz watch.
Mel Tisdale
Whilst it might be a few milliseconds out over the course of a day or so, I recon my 40 złoty (about $12) watch is better in that I can read the time at a glance without having to use a magnifying glass. My only problem with it is deciding what to do with $119,988 that I saved when I bought it.
DemonDuck
Does it tell time?
David Wei
Verify what? A imprecise dial showing a precise measurement to be adjusted by an equally clumsy and imprecise owner? This is why Seiko have heir own standard, instead of on 5 sides and daily error of between -4 and +6 seconds, they do it on 6 sides and between -3 and +5 seconds. And that's their mechanical movement only, with their self adjusting spring drive, it is +/-0.5 second per day. What philosophy? It is just another dorky mechanical toy that is less precise than it pretends to be. Adjusting it yourself? I doubt the user would even know that varying position could affect accuracy too, all the user does with this kind to feature is just making their watch even less precise.
David Wei
Forgot to say, from their information, it appears that it is using a 3PPM oscillator, possibly a TCXO. While such oscillator is remarkably good at being consistent, it does not say how accurate it is, just very consistent.
Gent
All watches are divided into 2 groups. There are mechanical and quartz watches have. The person who uses quartz not wear mechanical watches. And the man who loves mechanical watches never wear primitive quartz. It is a philosophy. Seiko makes good mechanical watch. But if you need high accuracy, the quartz better. Who loves mechanisms that precision is not important.