Urban Jürgensen Under New Danish Ownership
Urban Jürgensen & Sønner (UJS) is one of the names that echoes throughout the annals of horological history much like that of Abraham-Louis Breguet and John Harrison. Doing the name of this legendary watchmaker justice in the modern era is not an easy task, but the people behind its modern incarnation have done an incredible job, and the boutique brand has – justifiably – retained its mythical collector status.
Its modern history began with Peter Baumberger, who was an active member of the busy Swiss vintage watch scene in the 1970s. In 1975, Baumberger met Dr. Helmut Crott, previously owner of the German auction house of the same name. In 1979, Baumberger bought Urban Jürgensen, resuscitating it two years later.
Baumberger worked in partnership with exceptional craftsmen in the Jura region such as the late Derek Pratt and Kari Voutilainen to ensure watches marked with the Urban Jürgensen name remained rare and sought-after.
It was in 2003 that Baumberger decided to realize his dream of making a new movement and escapement for Urban Jürgensen. In 2005, the brand became the first client of then-fledgling Chronode SA, a small movement and complication manufacturer founded by IWC’s previous head of product development, Jean-François Mojon.
Baumberger unexpectedly passed away in 2010, unfortunately just before the official launch of Urban Jürgensen’s UJSP8 chronometer in 2011.
The new UJSP8 was designed from scratch according to work previously completed by Pratt with the idea of improving rate, performance, and stability. This large, aesthetic, C.O.S.C. and Chronofiable-certified movement contains a world premier: the first pivoted detent escapement made for a serial wristwatch.
Crott, in addition to his role as adviser, was a major shareholder of Baumberger’s Urban Jürgensen. He took over after Baumgartner’s passing, continuing the quest for exceptional horology based on his beloved vintage values; it was, however, clear that Crott would be looking to find a more permanent solution.
A gratifying feather in Crott’s Urban Jürgensen cap was added on October 31 when the UJS Central Second took home the prize for best men’s watch of 2014 at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, although by that time Crott had already sealed the deal with the brand’s new owners.
In November 2014 it became official: Urban Jürgensen returned to the hands of Danish owners after 30 years of Swiss ownership: a group comprising five private investors – who are incidentally passionate watch collectors as well.
New managing director Søren Jenry Petersen is currently in the process of moving to Switzerland from Denmark. Crott remarked that he is “a very good man,” who understands what it takes to lead a brand properly. “I believe he will do great things for Urban Jürgensen,” said Crott, who will remain for an undetermined amount of time in an advisory role.
With regard to direction and strategy, it would appear that not much will change in the short term at least, with new models destined to be launched at Baselworld 2015 already in the pipeline. I’m already looking forward to them!
If you missed Baselworld 2014’s offerings, please check out Heartbeat: Urban Jürgensen Montre Observatoire Enamel and Simply Divine: The Urban Jürgensen Unique Piece Tourbillon Minute Repeater Regulator.
For more information, please visit www.ujs-chronometry.ch.