An interesting feature of the Harry Winston Opus series watches is that the designers behind them can be identified almost instantly from the watches.
The reason is, with a few exceptions, that Opus watches usually rely on complications or signature elements that already exist in this watchmaker’s arsenal.
One notable exception was Vianney Halter’s Opus 3, which is perhaps one of the reasons it took so long to make. The Opus 3 was a whole new concept of digital signage, requiring mechanics that did not exist before.
The Harry Winston Opus 5 with Felix Baumgartner from Urwerk could also have been one of those special Opus models, the origins of which would have been less easy to discern. As this drawing by Urwerk designer Martin Frei from June 2003 shows, one of the original ideas behind Urwerk’s Opus 5 was also a digital display.
Another item to note here is the crank on the right side of the case, which cocked and spins the indicator reels like a slot machine. When they had finished turning, they would stop at the right time. To complete this, it would have required a complication of the order of a minute repeater. . .but much more complicated.
A crank actually appeared on the duo’s 2014 EMC model, although it wasn’t designed to play with time but rather to charge a super capacitor.
The case in this design shows both the signature elements of Urwerk (typical asymmetrical case) and Harry Winston (the three “lips” between the lugs).
According to this drawing, this concept for Opus 5 had the working title of “Time Bandit” due to the similarity between the front of the screen and a slot machine.
This is not the design that Harry Winston introduced in 2005, as Baumgartner felt that there was simply not enough time to make the prototype fully reliable before it was introduced at the Basel Fair that year. . A true perfectionist, this went seriously against Baumgartner’s grain.
Thus, the Opus 5 which saw the light of day that year was based on Urwerk’s now famous satellite time display comprising three cubes that turn and rotate to display the current time, while a pointer indicates the minute. A more conventional power reserve and day / night displays complement the indications on the front panel, while the typical Urwerk control panel at the rear features a service indicator and fine timing adjustment screw.
The highly unusual 50mm case housing the Harry Winston Opus 5 greatly differentiated the watch from Urwerk’s. To this day, the Opus 5 remains one of the most popular in the entire series.
For an overview of the entire Harry Winston Opus series 1 through 13, please read The Harry Winston Opus Series: A Complete Overview From Opus 1 Through Opus 13.
Quick Facts Opus Five (the real one)
Case: 50 mm, pink gold or platinum
Movement: manual winding movement with 122 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours (satellite), minutes (retrograde) on the front; power reserve indication, day / night indication, five-year service indication on the back
Limitation: 45 pieces (pink gold), 45 pieces (platinum), 7 pieces in platinum set with diamonds, 3 pieces in platinum set with baguette-cut diamonds for 100 pieces in total
Price: Most recent hammer price was $ 253,859 (Christie’s Important Watches Hong Kong, Jun 2015)
* This article first appeared on July 31, 2015 in The Urwerk Opus 5 For Harry Winston That Almost Was.
You can also enjoy:
Urwerk AMC: Atomic (Clock) Mechanical Control is a 21st century version of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s sympathetic clocks but much, much better (Geiger counter not included)
The Harry Winston Opus series: a complete overview from opus 1 to opus 13
Grab your hoverboard and launch the DeLorean: the Urwerk UR-105 CT Streamliner takes us back to the future (where everything can stop)
Urwerk UR-100V P.02 For Collective: Collaboration And Exclusive Dock In Space