About the founders

Felix Baumgartner (co-founder and master watchmaker) and Martin Frei (co-founder and chief designer) first met in 1995 to discuss developing a watch. The young men were united by their common passion for measuring and portraying time. A long discussion, a sharing of philosophies and dreams, culminated in a decision to create their own vision of time.

They founded URWERK in 1997 and presented their first timepiece with the AHCI at Baselworld that same year.

Felix Baumgartner Bio

“Horology is in my blood. I am the son and the grandson of watchmakers. The first musical concert I remember was played by the more than 50 clocks tick-tocking in my father’s atelier in our home. I was a watchmaker by birth, but I also became a watchmaker through passion.”

Felix Baumgartner

URWERK co-founder and master watchmaker

1975

Born in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) into a watchmaking family. As a child, Felix is surrounded by exceptional and complicated timepieces in his father's restoration atelier and this forms the base of his horological culture.

1992

Enrols in the prestigious Solothurn Watchmaking School in Switzerland.

1995

On gaining his watchmaking diploma, Felix declines the ‘easy’ option of an association with his father and moves to Geneva to work as an independent watchmaker. Here he develops complicated watches including perpetual calendars and minute repeaters, as well as restoration commissions from prestigious brands. There is then a milestone meeting in Zurich with his brother Thomas (also a watchmaker) and Martin Frei, a talented artist and designer, which leads to some serious philosophizing on a new vision of time perception. They start to dream about creating their own timepieces.

1997

Co-founds URWERK with one goal: to design and craft haute horlogerie timepieces that blend tradition with a futuristic vision.

Martin Frei Bio
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Martin Frei Bio

“After studying visual design and arts I came in contact with a wide variety of influences and cultures. When the world of horology opened its doors to me, I entered with my entire artistic luggage in tow. I did not find having an art background limiting; instead, my art opened new horizons in watch design. Technique, concept and aestheticism are, above all, acts of creation.”

Martin Frei

URWERK founding partner and Chief Designer

1966

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland. Martin's father was an engineer making machines for basic research while his mother was his first art teacher.

1987

Gained his Diploma in Graphic Design from the School of Visual Arts, Zurich.

1989

Gained his Bachelor of Arts at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst (College of Art and Design) in Luzern, Switzerland where he was a student of Roman Signer, an internationally renowned Swiss artist.

1994

Founded an Artist group called U.S.A - United Swiss Artists - in Lucerne with artist-friends. U.S.A. put on exhibitions, videos and performances.

1995

Milestone meeting in Zurich with Felix Baumgartner and his brother Thomas, both gifted watchmakers, where they philosophized about a new vision of time perception. They start to dream about creating their own timepieces.
They agree on the name URWERK and sketch the first UR-101.

1997

Co-founds URWERK with one goal: to design and craft haute horlogerie timepieces blending tradition with a futuristic vision, totally eschewing market trends.

Felix Baumgartner Bio
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  • Atelier

    Split between Geneva and Zurich, URWERK is a byword for creative efficiency and efficient creativity, thanks to the blend of rigorous Swiss German watchmaking culture and Swiss French traditional watchmaking culture.

    URWERK has assembled a highly talented team armed with a host of skills: concept, design, sketches, 2D drawings, 3D modeling, technical plans, manufacturing, micro-engineering, machining, assembling, watchmaking, finishing and decoration, prototyping, testing and adaptation, sales, marketing and communication.

    All the team are united with the common goal of horological excellence.

History

Discover the timeline

In just 15 years, URWERK’s original approach to watchmaking has both shaken traditionalists and won the respect of collectors.

URWERK was born from a meeting in 1995 between Felix, his brother both gifted watchmakers – and Martin Frei, a talented artist and designer. These young men were united by their common passion for measuring and portraying time. A long discussion, a sharing of philosophies and dreams, culminated in a decision to create their own vision of time.

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