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Urban Jürgensen - World Premiere

Urban Jürgensen World Premiere

It's taken hundreds of years, but here it is: the first pivoted detent escapement in a wristwatch – spearheaded by the late Peter Baumberger and brought to fruition by Derek Pratt, Jean-François Mojon and Kari Voutilainen.

WORLDTEMPUS - 23 March 2011

Elizabeth Doerr

Urban Jürgensen is one of those names that echoes throughout the annals of horological history much like that of Abraham-Louis Breguet and John Harrison. Doing the name of this legendary watchmaker justice in the modern era is not an easy task, but it is one that Peter Baumberger has attempted to fulfill faithfully.Urban Jürgensen_330125_0

Modern history

Baumberger was part of the active Swiss vintage watch scene in the 1970s. In 1975, he met Dr. Helmut Crott, previously owner of the German auction house of the same name. In 1979, Baumberger bought Urban Jürgensen and resuscitated it two years later, marking the modern restart of the small company, which he led in a very low-key manner using exception craftsmen of the Jura region. Watches marked with the Urban Jürgensen name remained rare and sought-after – and neither publicized nor marketed. The prospective owners of these pieces were of a certain ilk; they knew exactly what they were purchasing.

Renowned independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen got to know Baumberger in 1994 and began to work with him as an independent contractor. Today, not quite a year after Baumberger's unexpected 2010 passing, Voutilainen states that he loved Baumberger's human qualities alongside his extreme knowledge of the subject. Yesterday, at the official launch of Urban Jürgensen's P8 chronometer, Voutilainen explained that Baumberger – who was very strict in his expectation of mechanical aesthetics – had had a dream to make a new movement and escapement for his brand.Urban Jürgensen_330125_1


In 2005, Baumberger decided to realize his dream and thus became the first client of then-fledgling Chronode SA, founded by IWC's previous head of product development, Jean-François Mojon. Mojon yesterday stated that he felt grateful to have had such a “privileged relationship” with Baumberger. Mojon and his team designed the new movement according to work previously completed by the late Derek Pratt from scratch with the idea of improving rate, performance, and stability. The result is Caliber UJS08, a large and aesthetic movement that contains a world premier: the first pivoted detent escapement made for a wristwatch.

Baumberger, unfortunately, did not live to see his dream finally become reality. This C.O.S.C. and Chronofiable-certified movement is now available under the leadership of the surviving family and Crott, who, in addition to his role as adviser, is a major shareholder. Voutilainen does the prototypes and is responsible for assembly, finishing and regulating the movements.
Urban Jürgensen_330125_2

The result is a classically beautiful and wondrously aesthetic piece of watchmaking that only reveals its incredible finesse when the wearer turns the watch over to see the 32 mm movement through the sapphire crystal case back. A clue is provided by the hacking second hand: while a Swiss lever escapement with a frequency of 21,600 vph (3 hz) moves the second hand six times per second, the detent escapement moves the second hand just three times per second in defined little deadbeat jumps. Close observation will reveal that this is no ordinary escapement to a connoisseur in the know.

The 42 mm gold wristwatch, whose “face” comprises a silver dial that has been guilloché by hand, will be available in limited quantities in the fall. For enthusiasts who love the look of this über-classic watch but can't really spend something close to 55,000 Swiss francs on an expensive new development, Urban Jürgensen does offer a version with a classic Swiss lever escapement for considerably less – for the time being, anyway.

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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