Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial

The Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial is limited to just 50 examples. Its guilloché dial is rich with texture and suffused with the light-gold tones of the finest sparkling wine. Angus Davies appraises this high-end watch, the quintessence of luxury.

Ever since the 18th century, Urban Jürgensen has been synonymous with luxury. With this firm’s watches, artisanal crafts, such as guilloché, are paired with beautifully appointed movements. Unlike some so-called luxury brands, there is an innate goodness with each watch bearing the illustrious Urban Jürgensen name. Indeed, the company’s products are paragons of fine watchmaking, worthy of critical acclaim.

True luxury should not be confused with overhyped, ostentatious tokens of wealth. Luxury is more than a prominent logo or an expensive marketing campaign. In my humble opinion, luxury is a function of virtue, where goods are created free of compromise, in order to confer lasting ownership delight. Furthermore, price should be a function of excellence, reflecting the premium materials used and the time-served skills employed.

The Danish-Swiss Maison recently released a new model, the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 with a Champagne dial. The hue of the guilloché dial doffs its hat to the premium sparkling wine from the north east of France and, in so doing, heightens the dial’s sense of grandeur. However, beyond the light-gold appearance of the dial, there are many other characteristics which distinguish this watch as extraordinary.

The dial

The term, ‘guilloché’ is often used to describe stamped or CNC produced dials. While these may prove attractive, they should not be confused with a traditional guilloché dial, made on a rose-engine lathe. This latter type of dial will invariably feature patterns that exhibit greater definition and deliver a sublime reciprocity with light. The hand-finished dial of the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial is made of one piece of solid silver. The time-served craftsman secures the disc in a vertical position within a rose-engine lathe. A cutting tool is placed against the dial blank and a crank is rotated with just the right amount of pressure in order to impart the desired groove. A series of different shaped wheels, termed ‘rosettes’, are used to create different dial patterns.

Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial

The end resultant is a dial canvas rich in detail. The central area is enriched with barleycorn motif, while the hour track is embellished with satiné circulaire. Two crisp circlets of sauté pique sit either side of the hour track, providing a tasteful means of delineation. A small seconds display, positioned just above 6 o’clock, features a glorious example of basket-weave guilloché.

When using a rose-engine lathe, concentration, patience and a steady hand are required. Some practitioners, recognising the difficulty in positioning two different patterns in close proximity, elect to ‘solder in’ dial sections in order to simplify the task. However, Urban Jürgensen do not countenance such shortcuts. Indeed, the brand states it takes two full days to produce one dial, albeit its glorious appearance justifies its protracted creation.

Søren Jenry Petersen, President and CEO of Urban Jürgensen, is a perfectionist. Not only does he obsess over the various guilloché dial motifs, he is equally fussy about the indexes. They are presented in the house-style and formed of white gold. Each numeral features a domed upper surface and is painstakingly polished by hand. Moreover, the hour and minute hands are skilfully crafted by hand and thermally blued. A diamond polished eye is fitted to the hour hand and held in position merely by its frictional fit. The centre canons are mirror-polished and gleam delightfully.

The case

An increasing number of watch collectors seek a classically styled timepiece featuring a stainless steel housing. This metal, whilst lacking the cachet of gold or platinum, is less prone to scratching, making it particularly suitable for daily wear. Furthermore, stainless steel is usually more affordable than noble metals and often appeals to men who are unable to wear gold on religious grounds.

Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial

The 3-part case measures 40mm in diameter. Its scale should prove appealing to most would-be wearers, adequately filling the wrist without appearing cumbersome. The steel case is endowed with a convex bezel, sometimes gleaming in light and sometimes immersed in darkness. Each lug is the result of repeated stamping and tempering prior to machining and subsequent polishing. Every lug is hand soldered to the case and yet there is no trace of solder and no visible joins. Integrated lugs would be simpler to incorporate but would lack the fluid and graceful profile of the Maison’s legendary teardrop lugs.

A domed sapphire crystal sits above the dial, while a flat sapphire crystal graces the dorsal plane of the watch. This latter item facilitates sight of the Urban Jürgensen P4 movement.

Interestingly, while the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial exhibits a formal mien, the brand has chosen to equip the model with a casual light khaki suede leather strap, paired with a pin buckle. I use the word ‘interestingly’, as I could never have predicted the brand’s choice of strap. However, as with all other elements of this watch, it is a well-judged decision, conferring an abundance of style and sitting in tasteful concert with the rest of the timepiece.

The movement

The Urban Jürgensen P4 movement is individually numbered (there are 50 examples in this limited series). This hand-wound movement features a Swiss lever escapement and is equipped with twin barrels. The movement has a prodigious power reserve of 72 hours.

A stop seconds function allows the wearer to hack the movement by pulling the crown and restart the movement by pushing it home, making it ideal when synchronising the watch with a reference clock.

Consistent with every Urban Jürgensen watch I have ever viewed, there is a palpable horological probity with this movement. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes. Thermally blued screws sit within polished sinks and there is profusion of gleaming bevelled edges.

The openworked balance bridge is secured by two screws, one at each side, affording superior stability. It provides splendid views of the balance wheel oscillating to and fro. The frequency of the balance is 21,600 VpH (3Hz). Interestingly, Urban Jürgensen has equipped the movement with a variable inertia balance, supplanting the widely used index-adjusted balance. On this movement, the rate is altered be unscrewing or tightening the screws fitted to the rim of the balance wheel and, by default, altering the moment of inertia. The variable inertia balance is technically superior and much loved by purists.

Closing remarks

The dial of the Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial is achingly gorgeous, readily seducing its beholder. At first it appears simple and uncluttered, however, with increased familiarity its complexity comes to the fore. The epidermis of the dial is rich in detail, encompasses numerous patterns and incorporates a dial hue seldom seen. This complexity is the result of immense patience and time-served skill, explaining the significant costs incurred.

Beyond its aesthetic delights, the hands and indexes impart meaning with clear tone. There is no risk of confusion. Everything is clear.

Although the steel construction makes the watch a bit more affordable, none of the exquisite detailing found on the brand’s costlier gold and platinum models have been lost. The movement, similar to the dial and case, combines peerless functionality with glorious aesthetics. The twin barrels, stop seconds and variable inertia balance set the Urban Jürgensen P4 movement apart from most other calibres. Likewise, the blued screws, adorable anglage, Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and golden engraved text augment the visual allure of the movement.

Urban Jürgensen offer three limited edition versions of the Reference 1140, each featuring a unique case and dial combination. All three models exhibit their own appealing character and are likely to be selected based primarily on the individual tastes of the prospective wearer. However, one thing which all models share is an innate quality and a timeless allure. Quite simply, these watches are worthy of the term ‘luxury’.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Urban Jürgensen Reference 1140 Champagne Dial
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres) sapphire crystal to front and rear of case.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
  • Movement: Urban Jürgensen P4 movement; manual winding movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 23 jewels; power reserve 72 hours.
  • Strap: Light khaki suede leather strap, paired with a C-buckle in stainless steel
  • Price: CHF 22,680 + VAT (RRP as at 27.11.2019)
  • Limited Edition: 50 pieces

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