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.”
URWERK co-founder and master watchmaker
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.
Enrols in the prestigious Solothurn Watchmaking School in Switzerland.
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.
Co-founds URWERK with one goal: to design and craft haute horlogerie timepieces that blend tradition with a futuristic vision.Martin Frei Bio
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.”
URWERK founding partner and Chief Designer
Born in Winterthur, Switzerland. Martin's father was an engineer making machines for basic research while his mother was his first art teacher.
Gained his Diploma in Graphic Design from the School of Visual Arts, Zurich.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
In just 20 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.
URWERK's very nature embodies the spirit of inquisitiveness, so we are naturally interested in horological challenges and adventures. When Harry Winston Rare Timepieces approached us with the proposal of collaboration for their Opus collection, we embraced the project with enthusiasm.
The result was the Opus V.
URWERK was privileged to participate in Only Watch 2011, the charity auction held in Monaco under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II that funds research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
As an expression of commitment to the Only Watch cause, URWERK auctioned the UR-103 Phoenix, a unique timepiece made of white gold and hand-decorated by master engraver maker Jean-Vincent Huguenin, one of the most gifted artists in this field. Fascinated by universal cultures and legends, Jean-Vincent did not take long to decide on the theme of this mythical bird, the Phoenix was revered in Ancient Greece as well as being a legendary hero in China and Japan. The auction raised €4,563,000 in 2011.
URWERK and MB&F have broken new horological ground by working together in an exciting new project called, C3H5N3O9, aka Nitro.
C3H5N3O9 (the molecular formula for nitroglycerine) is a platform created by MB&F’s Maximilian Büsser and Serge Kriknoff in collaboration with URWERK’s Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei, to conduct experimental horology.
The first fruit of this collaboration is Experiment ZR012, a limited edition of 12 pieces in zirconium and 12 pieces in black zirconium featuring a Wankel engine inspired display. The movement was designed and developed by Felix Baumgartner, Martin Frei and URWERK constructor Cyrano Devanthey, while the case was designed and developed by Maximilian Büsser with designer Eric Giroud.