At this point, you’re probably familiar with independent watchmaker Urban Jürgensen and its classic, superbly executed watches. In this instance, the Reference 1140, the brand’s cornerstone and signature piece, should be nothing new to you… Well, wait until you discover the latest version, a limited edition with a spectacular golden dial. Meet the Reference 1140 Champagne Dial, and yes, it comes with a stainless steel case.
Before we move onto this new Reference 1140 Champagne Dial, a few points to keep in mind – just in case the name Urban Jürgensen doesn’t ring a bell. Founded in Copenaghen in 1773 by Jürgen Jürgensen, the company is among the foremost watchmaking dynasties in history. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Jürgensen family worked with legends like Jacques-Frédéric Houriet, Abraham-Louis Breguet and John Arnold to set standards for fine watchmaking that still apply today. Urban Jürgensen, first son of Jürgen, continued building the family’s brand. His book, Principes Généraux de l’Exacte Mesure du temps par les Horloges, is still a relevant reference for today’s watchmakers.
Although headquartered in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, the company is now again under Danish ownership with Soren Petersen (formerly with Nokia) as President and CEO. While many watchmakers on the indie scene have chosen the path of boldness and avantgarde, Urban Jürgensen remains one of the few traditional watchmakers with a focus on elegance and an obsession for the smallest details. For instance, the dials and hands are certainly amongst the most impressive and the most desirable of the industry, and all are done using traditional techniques such as guillochage or grenage.
Than brand comprises several collections, such as the “entry-level” Reference Big 8, the complex 1140C with Detent Escapement, the slightly modernized Reference 2140 and, more recently, the introduction of a steel sports watch, the One. Despite having more than one watch, all of them share common traits, with superb execution, precious materials and proprietary movements finished with great care.
The new Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial
This new piece isn’t entirely novel, as it is still based on the foundations of the Reference 1140. Until now, this watch was available only in precious metals, with guilloché dials – some with baton markers, some with Breguet Arabic numerals. Yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and even platinum were possible options, but this watch never made it in steel. Only the reference 1142, with a larger 42mm case, has been made in steel, under the name “the Alfred”.
This new version, a limited edition, presents two main specificities. The first is, of course, the use of stainless steel for its 40mm case. Other than that, we find the same elegant design, with a 3-part entirely polished case. It also features the signature individually soldered teardrop lugs, which add great charm to the watch – and are a real pain to manufacture. Altogether, great proportions on the wrist and a discreet look with a twist of elegance.
The second new aspect of this Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 is its dial. It is, for the first time, presented in “champagne” colour – a light gold-plated dial if you prefer. While most of the other watchmakers tend to use rose gold or “salmon” these days, Urban Jürgensen remains a bit more traditional (or less fashionable) with the use of this yellow gold dial. The rest is familiar, with a central area decorated with a hand-guilloché wave pattern, a small seconds counter also with a hand-guilloché basket weave pattern, a circular brushed chapter ring and applied domed solid white gold Breguet Arabic numerals. Not only do these multiple areas and finishes give a great sense of depth to the watch but they also allow for clear legibility.
The hands, which are made of blued steel, still feature the click mounted diamond polished eye on the tip. If you want to see exactly how Urban Jürgensen handcrafts its hands, check this in-depth article. Needless to say, the entire dial/hand combo is superbly executed and extremely attractive.
Powering the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 is the proprietary calibre P4 – a large twin-barrel movement, manufactured by Jean-Francois Mojon of Chronode, exclusively for UJ. This hand-wound movement measures 32mm x 5.20mm. Beating at 21,600 vibrations per hour, the large balance is held in place under an openwork transversal bridge. The stop-seconds mechanism allows for precise time setting. The two barrels can store up to 72 hours of power reserve. The contours of the three bridges, with Geneva stripes radiating from the balance wheel, are highlighted with superb anglage. The full balance wheel bridge is openworked and features interior and exterior angles while holding in place a large balance wheel with adjustment screws. The screws are thermally blued and the jewel sinks and recesses are finely hand-polished.
To give this steel version of the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 a more casual touch, the strap is made of suede leather in brown, with a steel pin buckle. The watch will be limited to 50 pieces and priced at CHF 22,680 (excl. VAT). More details at www.urbanjurgensen.com.