Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Urban Jurgensen Reference Big 8 Stainless Steel.
This detailed review of the Urban Jurgensen Reference Big 8 Stainless Steel includes live pictures, specification and price.
Wherever you choose to look there are examples of so-called green products and environmental policies. However, despite these justifiably noble initiatives, there remains a flip side. It is a sad reflection on some areas of modern commerce that electrical consumer goods, such as televisions and kitchen appliances, are deliberately intended to fail shortly after their warranty expires. It is therefore refreshing when luxury goods are crafted to outlive their owner. Indeed, these items are truly ‘green’ as they will never require costly recycling, merely an occasional lubrication service.
A wonderful example of this intrinsic longevity can be found emanating from the confines of Urban Jürgensen’s period atelier in the watchmaking idyll of Biel / Bienne. It is here that objects of beauty are brought into the world and, with the deft hand of a time-served watchmaker, imbued with life.
Sadly, the rarefied excellence of an Urban Jürgensen timepiece may well elude ‘the man in the street’ owing to the justifiably high price these watches command. Indeed, the time consuming craftsmanship, no-compromise methods and expensive raw materials used, attract an understandably high asking price.
Now, there is a surprisingly accessible Urban Jürgensen which still captures the beauty of the brand’s costlier and highly desirable watches but delivered in a steel case. , mitigating the raw material costs typically associated with noble metals. Moreover, the movement is an upgraded Frederic Piguet movement further ameliorating expense.
However, despite an asking price of CHF 13,200 (RRP as at 23.9.2017), readers should not misconstrue as there are few concessions made and many expensive attributes to savour.
The solid silver dial is enlivened with various patterns formed using a rose-engine lathe. Moreover, the artistic dial canvas is festooned with several different guilloché motifs. The central area of the dial features Grains d’Orges, while the small seconds display is adorned with a sumptuous basketwork pattern. The hour track is decorated with Satiné Circulaire and the chapter ring is framed with a neat circlet of Sauté Piqué.
There is no evidence of penny-pinching with the hands either. Urban Jürgensen has expended much effort creating beautiful thermally-blued hands. The eye on the hour hand is held in place by means of friction alone, a testament to its exacting fit.
There are many subtle details which make the Big 8 notable. The maker’s name is tastefully proclaimed on an arcing cartouche. The date is exquisitely framed via a stepped aperture, augmenting the perception of quality. Indeed, despite the comparatively modest price of the watch, it is heart-warming to see that this prestigious maison has not eschewed the many details which make an Urban Jürgensen special.
Roman numerals denote the hours and help grant the Big 8 with a praiseworthy degree of readability.
Despite its moniker, the Big 8 is restrained in size. Measuring 40mm, this magnificent timepiece, is bigger than its older sibling, the 37mm Reference 8. Indeed, it is the greater scale of the Big 8 which provides the source of its name.
By today’s standards 40mm is considered a comparatively modest size, but its dimensions confer universal appeal. The Big 8 appears smaller when worn, courtesy of the teardrop lugs and stepped bezel. Furthermore, the recessed crown also mitigates the perception of scale. This watch is neat and hides its dimensions very effectively.
The teardrop lugs are yet another illustration of the no-compromise method of manufacturing at Urban Jürgensen. The lugs are forged, heat treated, hand polished and individually soldered to the case of the watch. While this gestation process is protracted, it confers a degree of excellence seldom found at this price point.
The automatic movement, the FP1160, is based on an existing Frederic Piguet calibre. However, Urban Jürgensen has breathed upon this self-winding movement bestowing it with an impressive level of finishing.
Throughout its history, Urban Jürgensen has always made its own movements as well as procuring calibres from third parties. On this occasion, by adopting this latter approach, the company has delivered much quality while achieving cost savings that are reflected in the final price of the watch.
Each bridge is adorned with fabulous Côtes de Genève motif and engraved with golden text. The screw and jewel sinks gleam wonderfully. The oscillating mass is 21-carat gold and incorporates glorious guilloché work, again performed on a rose-engine lathe.
The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH and the movement contains 31 jewels. Two barrels collaborate to deliver 48 hours of autonomous operation.
The Urban Jürgensen Reference Big 8 Stainless Steel is a delightful watch which shows few signs of compromise.
The dial is wonderfully appointed with various guilloché motifs and the thermally blued hands articulate time with seemly tone and notable clarity.
Despite its nomen, the Big 8 is comparatively small by today’s standards. Subtle details such as the teardrop lugs and stepped bezel mitigate the sense of scale still further. This timepiece has a classical mien and exhibits a genteel style.
Urban Jürgensen has cleverly used a third party movement from Frederic Piguet expertly imbuing the calibre FP1160 with a pleasing level of finishing and equipping it with a gorgeous oscillating mass.
The Big 8 is an exemplar of haute horlogerie and upholds the reputation Urban Jürgensen has for crafting fine watches, yet all delivered at a very modest price. Moreover, this timepiece, imbued with fine craftsmanship and high quality materials, is intrinsically green. With minimal maintenance, longevity is assured. This is the true definition of a luxury product and makes a refreshing change in today’s ‘throw away’ society.
- Model: Urban Jürgensen Reference Big 8 Stainless Steel
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40 mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistance 3 ATM (30 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date
- Movement: Upgraded FP 1160; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); power reserve 48 hours
- Strap: Black alligator strap
- Price: CHF 13,200 (RRP as at 23.9.2017)