Mind-bending Twists: Urwerk Unveils the SpaceTime Blade at Watches and Wonders 2024

It is one of the quirkiest combinations ever to be witnessed in horology wherein a Star Wars lightsaber meets Nixie bulbs
Mind-bending Twists: Urwerk Unveils the SpaceTime Blade at Watches and Wonders 2024
April 12, 2024
Mind-bending Twists: Urwerk Unveils the SpaceTime Blade at Watches and Wonders 2024

A lightsaber is a fictional energy weapon featured in the Star Wars franchise, created by George Lucas. It consists of a metal hilt, which produces a blade of plasma powered by a Kyber crystal. The lightsaber is the signature weapon of both the Jedi Order and their Sith counterparts; both can use lightsabers for combat and defence, and occasionally, for ceremonial purposes. Urwerk's SpaceTime Blade, shaped like a lightsaber, pierces through all timekeeping mechanisms with its one-of-a-kind display, with myriad timings, relating to our planet, transmitted by glowing orange Nixie bulbs. The limited edition of only 33 units is turning heads at 2024 Watches and Wonders Geneva. 

This unique, upright clock's indicators are housed inside a 1.70-metre-high, 20-kilogramme glass blade. The blade comprises eight Nixie tubes, with eight settings displaying everything from wandering hour and minute indications to the earth's cycle around the sun (in miles) over the course of a year. Urwerk's UR-100 models have previously displayed the earth's rotations and revolutions around the sun in kilometres. But the SpaceTime Blade stands out; it emits an orange glow, displaying the time taken by the earth to travel 940 million kilometres around the sun each year in hours, minutes, and seconds.

While the information displayed on the vertical glass column can change at an incredible rate of 500 times per second, the SpaceTime Blade's structure is based on traditional artisanal techniques. Its base is a massive Urwerk crown. Lukuvka, a lost-wax casting specialist, has created this bronze crown. The finished bronze foundation was polished and rubbed, and given a patina. The eight vertically aligned and oblong Nixie bulbs, protected by a glass dome with a rounded top, have been hand-shaped into flames. Nixie tubes — which used 10 or 12 cathode threads inside a sealed glass tube filled with an inert gas and were wired to an electrical contact to display the time or other information via blazing orange digits — were subsequently supplanted by LED technology.

The bulbs of the SpaceTime Blade were made at a Czech Republic glass studio. Dalibor Farny, a pioneer in the rebirth of Nixie tube technology, oversaw the production of the bulbs, which were connected by hand with tweezers to shape the ten 0.1 mm steel cathode numbers that matched those found on Urwerk's dials. Each bulb contains 88 pieces and is filled with low-pressure neon gas, which when ignited generates the orange display.

The SpaceTime Blade is powered by an electrical spinal column and offers the following indications activated via a remote control. There are eight display modes: Position 1 - Indication of the hours, minutes, and seconds; Position 2 - Indication of the hours, minutes, seconds, 1/10th and 1/100th of a second; Position 3 - indication of the day, month, year; Position 4 - Indication in km of the earth’s daily rotation measured at the Equator; Position 5 - Indication in km of the earth’s daily revolution around the sun; Position 6 - Indication in km of the earth’s revolution around the sun in one year; Position 7 - Shuffle mode; and Position 8 - Pause mode`.

Image Credits: Urwerk