Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep18 : Felix Baumgartner, Urwerk Watches, [Switzerland]
Interview with Felix Baumgartner
"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 his atelier in our home. I was a watchmaker by birth and am now a watchmaker by passion."
Baumgartner: I am third generation of watchmaker so already my grandpa was a
watchmaker with the business. My father actually did antique clocks and I have to continue this
culture with very modern wrist watches.
How do you see it?
Baumgartner: Probably between art and high technology. If you really, deeply see into the watch
you will see the watchmaking culture in it.
Baumgartner: Basically the wheels and the balance wheel and everything is like one hundred years
ago. But what we added is to add a new time indication in a completely new design and also new
materials in watch making. We use a lot of titanium which is not an old typically watch making
Would that be the most complicated thing you have produced so far?
Baumgartner: Yes and no because there are not a collaboration, with Harry Winston called the
Opus 5 watch and this is probably was more complicated. We have plans doing watch more
complicated than Opus 5.
Baumgartner: To invent, it is possible with bigger brands but it takes you much more time to make
move. You have to convince, I don’t know, groups of people and this is not my work and so you
have nobody to convince we just do it and it’s not a question of capitalism or doing money with it,
we love it, do it.
Baumgartner: It is difficult and you need to know the people who produce parts also for the
industry, you start to know them after time and then you convince them that it is really interesting
and they start also to invest from their side.
Baumgartner: For my father or grandfather it would have been impossible to have his own brand
because at this time it was not accepted. You have really had the chance with the big brands, like
Rolex, Patek … Breguet to exist and today if you do good work and put nice quality, you can do
your own brand.
Baumgartner: This watch, the first idea was to have another time indication than with hands and
then we did the 101 watch and then one day my father he looked at this very first prototype, this is
really nice but it’s difficult to read the time and it would be much more comfortable to have the
circle against you and not on the other side. Actually you don’t have to turn your wrist to see the
time, you can look at the time in the position while you drive or like this.
Baumgartner: So now actually you have here the minutes from zero to sixty.
Yes, so the minute is underneath there, okay
Baumgartner: Yes, so you have really to concentrate on this part of the watch, zero sixty minutes
and then you have the hours come in so now it’s six thirty, six forty-five and then it goes to seven,
seven zero minutes, seven fifteen, thirty, forty-five and eight and it goes from one to twelve and
these satellites showing the hours are changing with a Maltese Cross system on behind, underneath
here. It’s really a modern looking watch and with modern materials and then you have the control
bolt and then you have the minutes in the centre and the seconds on the both. So, it’s to set a time
very precisely, the back actually these two, emergency and then you have the power reserve here
and then you have the fine adjustment function which is an important function actually, a new
function for the watch lovers to set the movement, plus, minus, thirty, second per day.
How many watches would you chaps make a year?
Baumgartner: Around a hundred and twenty to a hundred and fifty.
What is the retail price of a watch like that?
Baumgartner: Red Gold is around fifty three thousand US dollars.
And that’s the most expensive version?
Baumgartner: No this is the basic version.
Baumgartner: Felix and Thomas’ brother introduced me to this. It gave me that opportunity
because it’s like something unusual already as indication to come up with like a different kind of
shape for the case.
Baumgartner: I’m an artist, I studied art but I didn’t study designing. When I got to know his
brother he helped me with the tool that I was making at the time and to match distances in face, in
face you know, to make portraits and so on, so I told him if you have another idea just call me and
so it took I don’t know, three years or so and then the brothers … called me and said okay we
something we should sit together and look at it so and that’s how it started, how I got involved with
the watch world.
Baumgartner: I was always interested in time, time from different angles you know, something
mystical, something, you can’t describe it really it’s something experimental, measuring the time.
This is something that already, before I actually got to know Thomas and Felix I made some films,
like a … film that was telling the time.
Baumgartner: We had a lot of issues of problems in the beginning and there’s something, yeah a
lot of points were in this a little bit we got for example to make move all these four circle lights
with this orbital cross, it’s a big piece to move. They had to make these tests and developments, it
took us years and for example, this is from the watchmaking part or for example from the design,
the case part to produce. This sapphire glass here in this shape, it was impossible five years ago, it
was impossible and they can do it now since two years and they start to, I had to order at five
different places for the glass and only one place was able to produce it.
Baumgartner: It’s one product, it’s together, the case and the movement and always at Warburg
our collaborations, movement and case work together.
Baumgartner: When you do a project it’s not necessarily you know that the concept or the idea of
the movement or the complication so it’s first or so, if you sit together from the beginning,
Do you guys drink beer at the time or, just to help the process?
Baumgartner: No drink
No drink, no drugs?
Baumgartner: No, you just, we’re kidding. Not really. It’s better not to at that moment, but later.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Felix Baumgartner, Urwerk Watches, Switzerland