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Urban Jürgensen - The watches and clocks of Frederik Jürgensen

Urban Jürgensen The watches and clocks of Frederik Jürgensen

The history of Urban Jürgensen’s brother Frederik’s involvement in watchmaking and the family business.

After Urban Jürgensen had settled in Switzerland and set up his own company, it was left to his younger brother Frederik to take over the family company in Copenhagen when the brothers’ father Jürgen Jürgensen passed away in 1811.

Frederik had been the company’s first apprentice in 1801, schooled by his older brother Urban. Just like Urban, he was also sent abroad on a study tour and joined his brother in Le Locle. He also took in Geneva, staying there until his father’s death, when he was recalled to Copenhagen, where he was appointed as his father’s successor as the watchmaker of the royal court and took over the family business.

Under Frederik’s leadership the company received a loan to set up case making operations, since there were no other craftsmen available to do this in Denmark at the time. The loan covered the cost of buying the machinery required to produce cases, but also the cost of hiring foreign craftsmen to help with production and train Danish craftsmen in the production of cases. 

Relatively little is known about the production of Frederik Jürgensen’s pocket watches, since Frederik did not number his watches; he simply signed them on the dial and the back of the mainplate. Unsurprisingly, the movements he used were similar to those of his brother Urban. They were predominantly gold pocket watches with full-plate movements, using either double-wheel duplex escapements or cylinder escapements. 

The watches and clocks of Frederik Jürgensen

Silver-cased observation watch delivered to the Danish navy. Full-plate cylinder movement with steel escape wheel.

Although there was the odd quarter repeater as well as models with engine-turned dials, there are no known Frederik Jürgensen pocket watches with a chronometer escapement. Over a 32-year period, Frederik Jürgensen produced only 500 pocket watches. He did produce deck watches for the Royal Navy, but they were deemed unreliable and were rejected.

Frederik also offered clocks but it is unclear whether he actually made the movements himself. The wooden cases were clearly made in Denmark and the movements show similarities with those produced on the island of Bornholm, yet there is no evidence that they were actually made there.

The watches and clocks of Frederik Jürgensen

Gilt bronze mantle clock with French movement. Property of the Danish Royal Household.

Although there are plenty of records detailing Frederik Jürgensen’s career at the family company and his various correspondence with the powers that be, surprisingly little evidence remains of his horological activity. 

 

The brand

Urban Jürgensen is one of very few watch brands that have a documented history of uninterrupted watch production that dates back over 240 years.

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