For URWERK, a precision timepiece should have at its base a movement that is accurate, reliable and long lasting. Such a movement should meet specific criteria including accuracy in 5 positions between -4 seconds and +6 seconds over 24 hours. However, while it is one thing to regulate an accurate watch in the controlled world of a workshop, performance in the sometimes-extreme real world, i.e. on the wrist, can be very different. Changes in position and temperature, and shocks, can all adversely affect isochronism (timing regularity) of a wristwatch. The challenge with EMC was in developing a mechanical watch that can be regulated by its owner to obtain the finest chronometric performance. EMC is the first precision mechanical watch that enables timing to be both easily monitored and easily adjusted by its owner.
With EMC, not only can the wearer obtain the precise timing rate on demand, they can then use that information to accurately adjust the timing of their watch to suit their own personal rhythm. Electro Mechanical Control (EMC) is the world’s first precision mechanical watch in which the timing can be monitored and adjusted by the user to suit their lifestyle – EMC is fully interactive.
Please note that EMC is a fully 100% mechanical watch. The electronics have absolutely no effect on the movement; they only enable monitoring of the movement’s precision in a similar way that the electronic speedometer or rev counter of a car has no effect on the mechanical engine and gearbox.
EMC features a deconstructed dial with four separate indications: A clockwise tour of the displays, from top left, presents the: on demand, precision indicator (instantaneous rate delta δ) ranging from -20 to + 20 seconds per day; seconds dial with counter-balanced seconds hand; hours and minutes; and 80-hour power reserve indicator. Turning EMC over reveals the fully in-house movement with the integrated circuit board – the EMC ‘brain’ –, the top of one of the two mainspring barrels near the crown and the top of the balance wheel and optical sensor on the winding handle side.
“Our idea for EMC goes back almost six years and is a natural continuation of my work as a watchmaker,” says Felix Baumgartner, co-founder of URWERK. “Like all watchmakers, I have on my bench a Witschi – an instrument to test the precision of my work. This impartial and uncompromising judge ‘listens’ to the rhythm of the balance and makes a verdict on the performance of the movement by measuring the timing rate, the number of seconds the movement gains or loses in 24 hours. This device is what I always refer back to; you might say it’s my only boss in the atelier!”
The audacious idea to incorporate a Witschi-like measuring instrument in a mechanical watch became a veritable quest for URWERK. “EMC allows you to obtain a reliable and accurate piece of data on your timepiece at the touch of a button – information that until now has been the preserve of professional watchmakers,” says Baumgartner. “Using this information, you can fine-tune one of the most exciting, most jubilant mechanisms invented – the mechanical watch – all by yourself.”
At its heart, EMC has a triple objective: to show how external parameters (positional changes, temperature and pressure) influence the timing of the movement; to enable the wearer to adjust the timing; and to facilitate interactivity between the timepiece and its owner.
EMC is inherently a precision mechanical watch with an in-house movement conceived, developed and crafted in the URWERK ateliers in Zurich and calibrated by URWERK in Geneva. The movement meets the most stringent quality control, with its chronometric performance tested in five positions during a 30-day cycle to ensure that it meets the highest standards for a precision watch.
To monitor and evaluate the mechanical movement, an” electronic brain” was then needed. Olivier Evalet, a software developer who is passionate about software and computer engineering, has been instrumental in helping this bold project succeed: “The idea was to use precision optics, i.e. light, to measure the precision of a mechanical movement. The accuracy we managed to achieve is better than 10 microseconds. And we have created a reliable system that is designed to work over the long term. The power for EMC’s electronic “brain” derives not from a simple battery but a super capacitor that even after 100,000 to 200,000 charge/discharge cycles loses very little performance. We also chose a high-frequency oscillator with an extremely long life – its instability is only 3 parts per million over a full year.”
EMC marks the dawn of a new era, that of an interactive smart mechanical watch allowing the owner to gauge the precision of their timepiece’s chronometric performance and fine-tune it to better suit their daily rhythm and pace of life.