Simply Divine: The Urban Jürgensen Unique Piece Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

Quill & Pad
Sep 9, 2014 · 10 min read
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background

Limited edition of 30 pieces

360° view of the rotating globe

Universal time display

Tourbillon 24 Seconds

Exclusive edition of 60 movements

POLARIS MEMOVOX

POLARIS CHRONOGRAPH

POLARIS DATE

POLARIS MEMOVOX

Breguet Marine
Chronograph 5527

Iconic Breguet codes with contemporary twist

Breguet Marine: inspired by the sea

Manufacture caliber 582QA

Simply Divine: The Urban Jürgensen Unique Piece Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

by Ian Skellern

Around 1995, the founder of the modern Urban Jürgensen & Sønner brand, Peter Baumberger (1940–2010), went into partnership with the then-independent movement manufacture Lémania (now owned by Swatch Group and incorporated into Breguet) to develop a minute repeater tourbillon movement.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

This project was finished in 2000; however, very few of these movements were ever made by Lémania . . . though Baumberger received three — each with different indications and finishes. One was a regulator.

Baumberger unfortunately passed away before doing anything with the precious movements, so they sat quietly in a box, waiting . . . waiting patiently for nearly a decade and a half until the brand’s new owner, Dr. Helmut Crott, discovered them and decided to create a wristwatch worthy of such a very special caliber using the regulator version: the Urban Jürgensen (UJS) Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

There are two main features making this watch a sui generis piece: the tourbillon minute repeater movement with regulator-style indications and the beautiful hand-painted Geneva technique (fondant de Genève) enamel dial.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

The dial

Let’s look at the enamel dial in more detail first. Enamel is basically crushed glass heated until it melts over a plate, which usually means temperatures of at least 800°C (1,500° F).

The major benefit of an enamel dial is that it doesn’t fade. How the dial looks upon exiting the oven is how it will look (if cared for) centuries from now.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

The disadvantage of an enamel dial is that it is very difficult to make. Multiple layers of crushed glass must be heated, melted, cooled and polished. Then the process is repeated any number of times, and at any stage the enamel might crack if it heats or cools too quickly.

The Geneva technique adds yet another layer of complexity and difficulty to the equation: coats of clear enamel are placed on top of the finished layers of colored enamel to increase the three-dimensional depth of the dial.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

For the UJS Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator, after the colored enamel process is finished, the numbers, lines and chapter rings are hand-painted on the dial.

Layers of special optical-quality glass enamel are then added. These final layers have to be heated at a temperature just a bit lower than that required for the first layers so that they do not melt away. However, the temperature has to be close enough to melting the first layers so that the clear layer of glass actually fuses with the layer beneath.

The result adds brightness and depth to the dial. However, this is a technique that the majority of enamelers avoid due to the difficulty of its execution.


The beautifully finished movement visible through the display back of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
The beautifully finished movement visible through the display back of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

The beautifully finished movement visible through the display back of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator


The movement

The movement of this minute repeater tourbillon is a work of art in its own right. A single spring barrel provides a 40-hour power reserve and the free-sprung balance beats at a traditional 2.5Hz (18,000 vph) . . . nothing out of the ordinary there.


Nothing, that is, until we come to the minute repeater and 60-second tourbillon, although these complications (and, yes, I know that technically the tourbillon isn’t a complication, but I’m claiming poetic license) by themselves aren’t enough to take the breath away. It’s the high level of hand finishing that does that.

The elegant tourbillon cage of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
The elegant tourbillon cage of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

The elegant tourbillon cage of the Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

Gazing through the display back is as rewarding as getting lost in the dial with black (aka mirror or flat) polished bridges and screw heads, polished countersinks, and impeccably executed Geneva waves greeting the eye.

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater
Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater

Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator

Not surprisingly, this Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator has been preselected among the top six in the Striking watches category of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. You can check out the competition and vote for your favorite (and possibly win a Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 XXL Petite Seconde valued at more than 10,000 Swiss francs) at www.gphg.org/watches/en/grand-prix-dhorlogerie-de-geneve/2014/.

For another beautiful enamel-dialed masterpiece, please check out the Urban Jürgensen Montre Observatoire Enamel.

For more information, please visit www.ujs-chronometry.ch/.

The Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater on the wrist
The Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater on the wrist

The Urban Jürgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator on the wrist

Quick Facts
Case: 42.5 x 13 mm, platinum
Movement: Caliber UJS-Cla92 with minute repeater and 60-second tourbillon
Functions: hours and minutes shown regulator-style, central seconds; minute repeater, tourbillon
Dial: grand feu enamel using Geneva technique finish
Price: 380,000 Swiss francs
Limitation: unique piece


Originally published at Quill & Pad.

Quill & Pad

Written by

The world's only digital publication focusing exclusively on haute horogerie. Sign up at http://quillandpad.com to receive our newsletter.