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Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1

Angus Davies spends some enjoyable moments with the Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1. This unique timepiece combines a tourbillon, minute repeater, gorgeous platinum case and exquisite grand feu enamel dial.

This detailed review of the Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1 includes live images and specification details.

Urban_Jürgensen_Tourbillon_Minute_Repeater_dial - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies

When I was at school, aged about eight years old, I remember a fellow pupil in my class who was one of 10 siblings. I can still recall saying to him, rather tactlessly, that my mother must obviously love me more as I was an only child. My naive comment was based on the notion that my mother’s affection was solely mine.

Whilst clearly my childlike reasoning was flawed, there is an argument that scarcity heightens value. There are many reasons for an object’s rarity, including the materials used, the artisans involved its creation or the protracted production processes utilised.

Recently, I held a Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1 in my hands and savoured each nuance of its distilled form. The watch features ‘1/1’ on its dial, denoting that it is a unique piece, according a degree of exclusivity seldom found within the confines of many high-street retailers.

Several aspects of the specification relating to the Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1 distinguish it as exceptional. Indeed, it draws on the expertise and historical crafts practised by only a few.

The dial

This timepiece is a regulator, intended for synchronisation with a reference clock. The large, thermally-blued minute hand adopts greatest significance. Its centre is highly polished and its slender tip points to the chemin de fer, or railroad track, encircling the dial. Each 5-minute integer is crisply presented with hand-painted blue Arabic numerals.

Urban_Jürgensen_Tourbillon_Minute_Repeater_closeup - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies

The dial surface is grand feu enamel. The repeated application of an emulsion, formed of successive layers of silica, ground into a paste and fired at temperatures of 700° to 800°C, delivers a lustre and profundity to the appearance of the dial. However, the execution of such dials is not for the faint-hearted as they can crack during the time-consuming creation process. Moreover, Urban Jürgensen point out that the dial on this timepiece is a mere 0.65mm in thickness, whilst others tend to be 0.8 – 1.2mm, reaffirming the talent of the artisans they employ.

At 3 o’clock, the hour is indicated with a thermally blued hand, featuring a circlet near its tip interfacing with Roman numerals. Whilst opposite, at 9’clock, a small seconds display lucidly imparts information with a svelte blued seconds hand and a neat scale encircling the perimeter.

The case

The platinum case has a reassuring mass, bestowing a sense of worth. Conversely, there is a delightful delicacy to its form, heightened with the fitment of the tear-shaped lugs for which the maison has become known. Scrutinising the lugs, there are no indications of joins to the case, they appear to seamlessly fuse with graceful finesse.

Urban_Jürgensen_Tourbillon_Minute_Repeater_lugs - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies

Measuring 42.5mm x 13.00mm, the case dimensions offer ubiquitous appeal. The case features a stepped profile, showcasing its sublimely polished surfaces and casting captivating shadows on each contour.

Urban_Jürgensen_Tourbillon_Minute_Repeater_caseback - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies

A slide on the left hand edge of the case activates the chiming sequence of the minute repeater. The crown exhibits a well ordered aesthetic, nuzzling the caseband without unduly protruding.

The caseback is retained with six screws and includes a sapphire crystal, providing sight of the movement.

The movement

The Caliber UJS-Cla92 is a hand-wound movement featuring 28 jewels. The free sprung balance has a frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5Hz) and the sole barrel provides a power reserve of 40 hours.

However, beyond these basic specification details, the movement delivers much more and showcases immense technical virtuosity.

Urban_Jürgensen_Tourbillon_Minute_Repeater_movement - ESCAPEMENT watch blog by Angus Davies

The movement includes a one-minute tourbillon, visible via the rear of the watch. Many purists argue that by positioning the tourbillon to the rear of the watch the lubricants are not subject to the adverse effects of UV-light, sometimes encountered when the cage is positioned on the dial. Certainly, the covert character of the tourbillon on this watch is very restrained and, in my opinion, proves highly agreeable. The tourbillon necessitates the skills of an extremely accomplished watchmaker to bring it to fruition. Furthermore, this particular tourbillon features the most exquisitely finished tourbillon bridge, executed to a matchless standard.

The minute repeater employs two gongs and two hammers to aurally convey the hours, quarters and minutes. The two gongs are looped around the inside of the case and are expertly tuned. Infinitesimally small amounts of metal are shaved from the gongs to achieve the desired notes. However, there is little margin for error, as should too much metal be shaved from either gong, the whole creation process has to start again from the beginning.

Listening to the minute repeater, the hours are sounded with one hammer and one gong to produce the note ‘F’, the quarters are denoted with a combination of ‘A’ and ‘F’ i.e. using both hammers and both gongs and the minutes are sounded with one hammer and one gong, chiming ‘A’. This mellifluous sound track harks back to an era when electric street lighting was not commonplace and the chiming sequence proved a practical solution to establishing the prevailing time in dim light.

In terms of finishing, this Urban Jürgensen shares the same exalted craftsmanship witnessed on other timepieces from this company. The Côtes de Genève motif on the bridges is wonderfully defined. The screw sinks and the screws themselves are beautifully polished. The bevelling is superb with brilliantly shining angles much in evidence. However, perhaps my favourite aspect of the movement is the profuse use of black polishing. ‘Black polishing’ or ‘mirror polishing’ is one of the most technically difficult forms of polishing to execute and magnificently graces the hammers of the minute repeater.

Closing remarks

To create a timepiece equipped with a tourbillon necessitates much experience and talent on the part of the watchmaker. Likewise, a minute repeater is equally, if not more, challenging to execute. However, by combining both complications and incorporating a regulator as well, the production of the movement within this watch must have placed huge demands on the artisans involved with its creation.

Interestingly, despite the numerous finely finished movement parts housed within the case, the dimensions of this timepiece remain relatively restrained, offering a practical ownership proposition.

Irrespective of which area comes under scrutiny, the Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1 impresses with its incredible specification. The grand feu dial is the epitome of beauty and the movement finishing shows no evidence of expedience or compromise.

I believe there is something special about being an ‘only one’ and Urban Jürgensen perfectly reaffirms this notion with the highly impressive and technically spectacular Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1.

Technical specification

  • Model: Urban Jurgensen Tourbillon Minute Repeater 1/1
  • Case: Platinum; diameter 42.5mm; height 13.00mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: One-minute tourbillon, minute repeater with regulator dial.
  • Movement: Caliber UJS-Cla92; hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 28 jewels; power reserve approximately 40 hours
  • Strap: Black alligator leather strap presented with a platinum pin buckle
  • Limited Edition: 1 piece

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