A strong foundation
Urban Jürgensen has a rich and varied history, dating back to the late 18th Century. The manufactures namesake, Urban Jürgensen (1776-1830), along with his father Jürgen Jürgensen, have long been credited with introducing the watch industry to Denmark. Shortly after the birth of his son in 1776, Jürgen Jürgensen moved to Le Locle in Switzerland to work with Jacques-Frédéric Houriet, laying the foundations for a Danish-Swiss connection, which still exists over 240 years later.
In 1985, the brand was acquired by Peter Baumberger, who together with master English horologist Derek Pratt, set about carrying forward a legacy of elegant and complicated timepieces, whilst pioneering concepts of performance, stability, and movement aesthetics. Though the brand has since changed ownership and focus, they continue to champion the classic aesthetics introduced during this period.
The Urban Jürgensen Big 8 was once described by Jack Forster, the Editor in Chief of HODINKEE, as a
"stunning example of old-school watchmaking [...] one of the most attractive things about it, in addition to the quiet but definite high quality of every part of the watch, is that this sort of watchmaking has, almost without anyone noticing, become rather rare."
We couldn’t agree more.
The dial builds on the classic Urban Jürgensen aesthetic, with a twist. It is executed in British racing green, which takes its name from the green international motor racing colour of the United Kingdom. Reminiscent of a 1920s' Bentley from Le Mans or a 1950s' Aston Martin, the deep green colour has become iconic.
The hand-finished, engine-turned guilloché dial requires up to 700 operations and two full days of hand craftsmanship to complete. Manufactured from one piece of solid silver, the racing green colour is added by a three-day colouring process through Physical Vapor Deposition (or PVD). The centre section of the matt dial is finished with a Clous de Paris pattern, instead of the more traditional guilloché usually found on the Big 8. At different angles of light, the dial ranges in colour from dark green, to teal, adding further depth.
In stark contrast to the dark green sections, the dial further features a circular brushed chapter ring, with Roman numerals and a pearled outer-minute track. The font of the Roman numerals has been updated to a curved, slightly more contemporary, design, concealing the six o'clock numeral completely. The small-seconds indication is also executed in racing green, with a Guilloché Panier finishing applied. For the sake of visual simplicity, the date window usually placed within the subsidiary seconds at six o’clock, has been closed.
The handmade, solid white gold 'Observatoire' Urban Jürgensen hands are turned on a precision lathe, thermally blued to Urban Jürgensen’s unique navy colour and mirror-polished, with the arms of the hands carefully riveted in place, creating a unique effect reminiscent of early 18th and 19th-century marine chronometers made by Urban Jürgensen. The “eye” of the hour hand is a solid gold insert, concentrically diamond polished and friction fit.
The Big 8 features an oversized 40 mm stainless steel case and the brand’s distinctive teardrop lugs and convex bezel. Forged separately from the case, the classic teardrop lugs are carefully heat-treated, hand-polished and individually soldered into place using mid-century horological methods, with no visible soldering line.
The upgraded Caliber FP 1160, from F. Piguet (now Manufacture Blancpain) is expertly finished and elaborately hand-decorated, featuring a 21k gold Guilloché rotor, signed with the Urban Jürgensen crest. This automatically wound movement is adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism and 5 positions, with 31 working jewels.
The ‘Swiss Lever’ escapement design of the modified F. Piguet 1160 movement allows the balance wheel to be engaged with the mechanism only during the split-second it swings through its center position, reducing overall friction and enabling far superior timekeeping ability. The FP 1160 movement is elegantly discrete, at 5.20mm x 32mm, with two barrels and a power-reserve of 48 hours.
A limited edition of 10 pieces, each of the brand new Big 8 ‘London Edition’ watches are numbered on the caseback, indicating their order in the production run. They all come as a complete set, with box and papers, and are fitted on our custom-made curved Bordeaux and Carcassonne nubuck straps, and an Urban Jürgensen stainless steel tang buckle.
A Collected Man will be donating all profits from the sale of these 10 pieces to Wellcome Trust, in their efforts to fund testing, treatment and vaccine development against the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus.