Geneva – November 2019
“Thank you, members of the jury, thank you all. Most of all, thank you for recognizing and rewarding the sheer amount of effort put in by the whole URWERK team. Our engineers and watchmakers, every URWERKian, and our atomic partners at SpectraTime, together made his possible. When you embark on a horological enterprise on the scale of the AMC project, it’s better not to know how difficult it will be. We now know that it’s hours beyond counting and labour beyond reckoning. And that’s what makes us proud to be standing here tonight”.
Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei
Co-founders of URWERK.
Last night (Nov. 7) URWERK won the 2019 Prix de l’Audace, a new award of Geneva’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie. This prize for the most intrepid horological venture really sums up who we are. In creating the AMC clock and watch, URWERK has created a physical marriage between two approaches to chronometry. AMC is not just a fascinating combination of atomic, and mechanical systems; it brings together the two branches of watchmaking in one hybrid device, successfully bridging an existential chasm that has divided horology since the creation of the first piezoelectric oscillator.
The AMC clock and watch are unique in the history of horology. Each represents in its own way, the peak of evolution of a particular approach to keeping time. And when paired, this duet turns out to be indomitable. The mechanical watch made of balance, balance spring and lever escapement merges with the atomic clock representing the cutting edge of modern timekeeping technology. An ex-machina dialogue starts and the rest is pure magic …
The URWERK AMC is a hybrid timekeeping construction that consists of two autonomous, but linked, systems. The first part – the Atomolith – is a fixed base unit, a 35kg aluminium-housed atomic clock with roughly the same dimensions as a mid-sized computer tower. The second part is a mobile unit, a purely mechanical watch that can be worn on the wrist or securely docked within the base unit.
When worn, the accuracy of the mobile unit is dictated by its 4Hz (28,800vph) mechanical oscillator and the conditions it is subjected to. When docked, the mobile unit is synchronised with its base unit, via a complex and ingenious system that senses any timing discrepancy between the two and chronometrically aligns the mechanical movement of the wristwatch with the highaccuracy atomic clock.
Docking the wristwatch not only corrects the time display, it also adjusts the mechanical oscillator within to beat more accurately, compensating for any minute changes in temperature, air pressure or humidity. These micro-adjustments, when performed regularly, have the effect of a pacemaker on the heart of the mechanical movement. Over time, its chronometric performance becomes merged with that of the atomic clock.