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Urban Jürgensen - Interview with Søren Jenry Petersen

Urban Jürgensen Interview with Søren Jenry Petersen

Our editor-in-chief talks to Urban Jürgensen’s CEO about the new Jürgensen One collection.

Urban Jürgensen is well known for its classic dress watches. Why did you decide to make a luxury sports watch in stainless steel?
There are several reasons why we created this watch. First, the question most often asked of me since I started in this industry has been “Do you have anything in steel?” – and it very clearly comes from a wish from clients and collectors for more choice in the market, and a hope that Urban Jürgensen with our product acumen could deliver something special in that category. Second, we see that in many markets up to 50% of the luxury watch sales are in this category and we always saw an opportunity to make a competitive offer here. Third, and last, for the continued expansion of our retail network it makes Urban Jürgensen a more complete partner who is able to deliver top-of-the-market offerings in this category, where the immediate competition have increasingly restrictive behaviour or have created artificial supply problems.

What is the Jürgensen One Collection all about?
It covers several ambitions we had. We wanted to develop our own automatic movement. We wanted to expand into the steel sports category and bring something fundamentally new to a category that has had no real news since the 1970s. We also wanted to address a somewhat younger client base. It is a very, very tall order, but I believe we have come up with at a product that ticks all these boxes.

Interview with Søren Jenry Petersen

The Jürgensen One © Urban Jürgensen

Where did the design inspiration come from?
As we have seen recently, a very long history as a brand does not necessarily mean it is easy to make a truly new product. You cannot just go back and pull a design out of the archives, and when starting something new – from a blank page – you need to have a very strong sense of what I call product culture in order to help you make the many decisions along the way. This is rarely team work or done by committee. In our case I wrote a design brief that contained the must-haves and gave a sense of Urban Jürgensen’s history, and I made all the design and detail choices myself. So there is no-one else to blame! The one proposal among many that hit the mark reduced things almost to the DNA level of a round watch – and we worked from there. The foundations were extremely pure and this is why the One collection seems to have such an innate balance. Even though the design is completely different from all comparable products – it still is not stressed or overly desperate to be different – you will recognise the watch from 10 metres away. And it is still pure Urban Jürgensen. 

What makes The Jürgensen One models so different?
Above all I must say I am very happy about the balance of the design as a whole. It is calm, yet has an edge. It is classic, yet very futuristic. It is elegant, yet robust, and it has no sharp straight edges, making it sleeve-friendly. When I received the simple line drawing of the case with modelled bracelet, I asked about 40 people when they thought the design was made. I got answers ranging from the 1960s to a watch for a sci-fi movie! I am particularly proud of the bracelet integration and the double shape pointed oval construction, which were done with an absolute master of bracelet manufacturing. On the technical side of things, I believe the fact we use medical implant grade steel is unique. We chose this because of the increased corrosion resistance, with a low level of nickel – at about half the nickel content of 904L steel this was the best quality choice in my mind. More important, perhaps, is that this is a watch in Urban Jürgensen craft quality. The movement is hand finished, the hand-finished hands retain the iconic Urban Jürgensen design elements with proper hand-riveted center canons, polished or thermally blued, and the overall assembly quality and finish is second to none. And as a sports model it is naturally water resistant to below 100 metres.

Interview with Søren Jenry Petersen

© Urban Jürgensen

I believe we have created an attractive option for the independently minded client who is not content to simply follow some hyped artificial trend, but instead makes an informed choice to invest in something truly rare and exceptional. That said – everyone of course has their individual taste and preferences.

What is special about the GMT model? 
Simplicity of use! In my previous life at Nokia, I was a seriously frequent flyer. For almost 15 years I would fly for about 100 days a year. Trust me when I say that I know how a GMT watch should work. The trouble is almost all GMT watches are not designed well enough for this. You need to unscrew or pull the winding stem or unscrew lock protections. You need to count clicks on the winding stem to know what you are correcting and remember what direction to turn. You need to think and remember what hand to look at. Pusher placements don’t intuitively correct the hand in right direction. I have four GMT pieces in my collection and none of them work completely right. 

Interview with Søren Jenry Petersen

The Jürgensen One GMT © Urban Jürgensen

The Reference 5541 GMT uses the main dial for the local time wherever you are, and a sub-dial marked with 24 hours indicates the home time. When you press the top pusher you advance the local time dial by one hour, and when you press the lower pusher you reverse by one hour. This is basic intuition of up/down. The date changes back and forth if you cross midnight, of course. The 24-hour sub-dial always shows the home time. A 24-hour dial means you do not need a day/night indicator, and you don’t need one for your local time either – because you can already see whether it is day or night! This means that you can simply reach down and correct by counting pushes as soon as the plane lands – and you do not even have to look at the watch when you do this!

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