Where Richard Mille helped to subtly usher in a new world of horology, URWERK really founded what I now call Contemporary Horology.  From the advent of the quartz era until the late 1990’s, watchmakers had been focused on the past – slightly changing the same watches over and over again.  The 103 is a true landmark piece.  It represents a watchmaker and designer of an entirely new generation (my generation!) creating a piece of horology from their own point of view.  The sci-fi references, casual style and rethinking of the entire time-telling device is all decidedly post-quartz.  This is the moment where I believe we can start viewing watches as art pieces.

Like most good art, it did not catch on immediately.  Richard Mille had drawn on familiar characteristics of a watch to ease people into the modern world.  URWERK did away with all of that.  I recall an early 103 piece sitting in a lonely showcase seemingly forever.  Now collectors salivate over it.

Personally, I must admit that I did not fully “get it” until the 103.03, the first time the case was opened up to reveal more of the mechanism.  I bought one of the first pieces to come into the country – my first “super exotic”.  If Richard Mille is a Ferrari, now we are talking about a Pagani Zonda.  The watch really felt like it was of my generation – I was proud to wear it.

As an aside, my wife, who is much smarter and infinitely more stylish than I am, “got it” immediately.  When she had the opportunity to buy herself a really nice watch, she picked a rose gold 103.09 – shown below in a his and hers shot.