Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture
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  1. #1
    Watchuseek Editor JMunchow's Avatar
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    Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    You feel the engine start to shake and smoke starts to pour out from under the hood. “Ugh… just great!” you say to yourself. Annoyed you pull to the side of the road and start to cuss to yourself as you turn on your hazards and prepare for the latest practice in futility (If only you had listened to your father when he was rambling on about how to take care of your car when you are out on the road). You can hear him now inside your head as you pop the hood, “Now remember to blah blah blah and make sure the blah blah is full and you have a spare blah blah in the trunk. If you get into trouble, first check the blah blah, and if that doesn’t solve it then make sure that the blah blah isn’t overheated.”

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    Wait a second? That just might be it! Ok, so you can’t remember much of anything he said because you were overly confident (read arrogant and inattentive) that you wouldn’t have any problems, but that last part rings a bell. “Check to see if it’s overheated, you’ll be able to tell if the engine shakes and dies and white smoke that smells sweet is pouring out from under the hood” you remember him saying. You pull off the coolant overflow tank cap and sure enough it’s bone dry and smoke is coming out. This probably means something is wrong, seeing as how it is a very lovely 68 degrees outside so why would the car overheat? In this moment you also remember that he said to pour in extra antifreeze or even water to be able to limp the car to a service station. But what are the chances you have any of that in the trunk? Well being the great Dad that he was, your father very kindly had stowed 2 gallons of antifreeze along with a couple quarts of oil, a can of Fix-a-Flat, a set of road flares, and a hand written note that said “I won’t even say it, so just stay safe and keep your head about you.”

    Dads can be great at making you feel extremely guilty while they save your butt, and there might be those of you out there that have found yourself in a similar situation. Mine came when I was 17 and my car died on an exit ramp as the motor seized from lack of oil. And I mean absolutely no oil, I had burned it all and the engine was nearly ruined. But my father, very calmly, just said “Yeah, you gotta make sure you check that oil, let’s get this off the road” as we pushed it uphill at 8:30 at night in the early winter. That day I learned the importance of taking care of your things, understanding how they work, and being able to fix them should something go wrong. I think that is why I love to know how things work and always try my hardest to salvage any broken thing before replacing it, guilt created determination. This drive is also what made me so excited when I first heard of and subsequently saw the Urwerk EMC.

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    To those of you who do not know, the Urwerk EMC is the first of its kind Electro Mechanical Controlled (hence EMC) mechanical wristwatch. It also displays parts of my adult personality that have come to define me! The EMC is truly groundbreaking in terms of watchmaking as it allows a wearer to be a participant in the precision of the piece on their wrist. I personally love this fact because I hesitate to buy any product that I cannot in some way work on or troubleshoot on my own. Being able to work on your own possessions and make sure they stay in good condition and working properly is a skill that I think every man (and woman and child) should be taught. It turns the average person from a passive consumer to an active participant in their own lives. To get the ball rolling, check out this video from Watches.TV!



    So if you are as excited as I am from that video, let’s get to it! The EMC allows the wearer to check the current precision of the balance by means of an optical sensor powered by a Maxon winding charger and super capacitor. The super capacitor technology was developed by Maxon for use in the NASA Mars Rovers, which is pretty geeky cool if you ask me! The charger is hand wound (nothing automatic or battery operated here) and allows for the optical sensor to observe a marker on the ARCAP P40 balance wheel. Random material-science nerd side-note: ARCAP is a series of Copper/Nickle/Zinc (CuNiZn) alloys with almost no Iron (Fe) creating an anti-magnetic, corrosion resistant, & thermally stable metal that is used in a variety of advanced industries and is also used extensively by the military.

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    The optical sensor transmits the readings to a circuit board equipped with a 16,000,000 hertz oscillator and compares the two readings to display the current accuracy of in terms of the change in δ (delta) up to +/-20 seconds a day. Basically it tells you if it is running fast or slow, so you know how to adjust it. Oh yes, you get to adjust it! There is a fine adjustment screw on the rear of the case that allows you to make the effective length of the hairspring shorter or longer changing its period. Thus you get to fine tune the precision of the movement all on your own! This is the genius of this piece. It allows it to be generally tuned by the user with a few (relatively) simple tools.

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    It reminds me of what my father said about his Oldsmobile 442; “If something wasn’t right with the engine, you could usually tune it with a screwdriver, matchbook cover, and a nail file.” Granted a 16,000,000 hertz oscillator and optical sensor are a little more complicated than a nail file and a matchbook, but to actually tune the movement all you need is a screwdriver. A little knowledge of how the machine works and a few tools allow you to keep it running well between major maintenance. Just like many machines that people use every day, a little knowhow and a few tools and you can make sure the world around you keeps running until at least something major happens. For someone who grew up without much money or nice things, it was my father and his tendency to fix what broke that kept our world running. After my oil “incident” I learned that valuable lesson as well, be active in your world and it won’t fail you nearly as often. I believe that is what the team at Urwerk wanted to achieve with this piece. They aren’t putting watchmakers out of business, simply allowing the buyer to participate with the “maintenance” of their machine.

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    The EMC really is amazing and it took me a while to realize why I liked it so much since at first glance they had committed a sacrilege putting a circuit board in a mechanical watch. Honestly I loved it from the moment I heard about it but I was confused since it went against my watch snobbery. But I soon realized they were simply empowering the people to learn more and to be able to tinker on their machines and make sure they stay working up to their standards. A watchmaker regulates any watch that comes to their bench with a Witschi machine, which listens to the balance and tells the watchmaker how fast or slow it is running. So putting that inside a watch doesn’t make the watch any less mechanical, it just gives you a tool that usually sits on a bench instead inside the watch itself.

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    Some have said that is what makes this watch silly and the whole concept inherently futile, because a mechanical watch is something that is, by design, not possibly as accurate as a quartz or atomic timepiece. I think those people are missing the point because they might not be the types that change their own oil, rewire a vacuum, or glue that picture frame back together. The people who see the beauty in this piece understand the satisfaction of being able to fix your own things, or in this case, adjust them as they age or are used. I ride a motorcycle pretty much every day to work, and if I didn’t know how to adjust things on the bike that simply move or wear from general use, then the bike would become useless fairly quickly. Adjusting brake cable slack, chain tension, tire pressure, throttle cable tightness, or even headlight direction allows the bike to keep working normally and reduces the chances of catastrophic failure… or simple roadside fix-it work. People who love to work on things usually love to work on anything, and this gives them one more thing to work on!

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    Those aspects aside, speaking on the style aspect alone this piece still gets my crank spinning (Hehehe, get it, crank spinning à hand wound charger crank? I made a funny!) This watch looks like a tool watch, more so than most every tool watch you have ever seen. It is rugged and shaped like it was chiseled from the metal, not formed by loving hands but by a strong craftsman with a function in mind. Multilevel dials spread across the asymmetrical case keep your eye moving around and the hand crank that stows in the side of the case definitely reminds you that this is a watch to be “used” like the tool that it is. The angles, protrudances, brushed or blasted surfaces, all of this screams mechanical tool (instead of flashy jewelry). I think that generally defines Urwerk and I know that I love the aesthetic!

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    • Wowza Factor – 9.3 This watch has a lot of Wowza, mainly due to its rugged design and absolute tool demeanor. Oh yeah, and the fact that you can self-regulate the movement because of a built in sensor isn’t bad either J
    • Late Night Lust Appeal – 46.2gn » 453.067 m/s2 A tool watch tough enough to be stuck on your wrist as you are shot across the desert in a rocket sled. Afterwards you could check its accuracy and adjust it if need be too!
    • M.G.R. – 62 The movement is the first in-house designed, engineered, and constructed movement for Urwerk and it incorporates a Witschi style device on your wrist. Daaaammmmn!
    • Added-Functionitis – Severe It has a very handy power reserve indicator for the manually wound movement. But the star of the show is the added ability to instantly assess the precision against a 16 million hertz oscillator. That ridiculously cool added function calls for doctor prescribed ‘Gotta-HAVE-That’ cream for that dangerous complication induced swelling!
    • Clams Per Pound – $150,000 I know what a “standard” Urwerk costs, and I know what a Witschi machine can cost, add those two together and slap it on your wrist? Um, yes please!
    • Ouch Outline – 9.772 – Using a Hot Curling Iron as a Microphone I’m sure numerous poor women (and some men) across the world have been singing along with Cher and accidentally grabbed their “mic” and screamed. Bring it on if I can own the Urwerk EMC!
    • Mermaid Moment – A few cranks and three seconds That is the amount of time it takes to utilize the groundbreaking sensor system on the EMC and the amount of time it would take to be completely enamored by anyone!


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    I could geek out for hours about this watch and if anybody wanted to call me up to discuss it my whole day would be shot! That is how much I enjoy the direction that Felix and Martin took with this new piece. But I’ll let you decide what you think of it (you know how I feel about it) and leave you with a parting thought I stated earlier:

    Don’t be passive. Be active in your world and it won’t fail you nearly as often.

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    As always I hold no rights to any of the images and they can be found freely on the interwebs.

    Have a great week and DFTBA!

    Cheers & Happy Watching,

    Joshua
    Elwood Blues and overbudget like this.

  2. #2
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    With that face, Vianney Halter flashes in my mind.
    tony20009 likes this.

  3. #3
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    Now this is a proper smartwatch.

  4. #4
    Member lmcgbaj's Avatar
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    Very very cool.

  5. #5
    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    Oversized, gimmicky, difficult to actually tell the time...what's not to love?

    OK, I came back to edit this rather brusque post to add that, as a vintage collector, when looking at contemporary pieces I always consider how the watch will be measured in the future; does it have intrinsic value beyond the immediate novelty. Now back to my original comments...
    Last edited by Tick Talk; September 11th, 2013 at 16:52.
    Tick Talk says, "A watch in the hand is worth two on the wrist" Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Member westlake's Avatar
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    I have a very good friend from Cap Town, South Africa. I love her accent, especially in situations like this:

    "Clev-ah, but I dare say a bit over-done don't you think?"

    Incredible machine, but more novelty and mechanical-art-turned-science-experiment than wrist watch.
    "Two Things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Member chuasam's Avatar
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    Treads the fine line between really cool and utterly ridiculous

  8. #8
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    Re: Urwerk EMC - The Tinker Culture

    Looks like a Swiss version of the Spring Drive.
    Current Rotation:
    Tudor Black Bay (on OEM bracelet) | Rado Original Automatic 648.0408.3.161 | Royal Orient WE0011JB | Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 311.30.42.30.01.005 | Casio G-Shock GWF-1000-1DR

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    GW-M5630E-9JR, GA-400-4A, DW-6900SG, GW-5000-1JF, GWF-1000-1DR, GW-200Z-1DR, GW-9200-1, GX-56-1B, G-5600E, G-6900-1, DW-5600MS, G-7302RL (non-functioning)

    Wishlist:
    Credor ​Eichi (when pigs fly) | Credor ​Eichi II (when fishes talk) | FP Journe Chronometre Bleu (acquired) | Urban Jurgensen & Sonner Ref. 3 (acquired) | D.Dornbluth & Sohn Cal. 99.5 (acquired) | Moritz Grossmann BENU Rose Gold ​(acquired)

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