When horophiles discuss the greatest watchmakers of all time, Abraham-Louis Breguet and John Arnold, and Vacheron and Constantin, routinely come up. But there is another, albeit lesser-known name that also makes the grade. Urban Jurgensen, a Danish contemporary of Breguet and Arnold, was a craftsman and thinker responsible for important and scholarly contributions to the science of timekeeping. His 1804 horological treatise, General Principles Concerning Timekeeping by Clocks and Watches, was an influential manual for generations of watchmakers.
Today, in the Urban Jurgensen atelier in Biel, Switzerland, skilled artisans create timepieces in the tradition of watchmaking’s golden age, before it was an “industry.” The Ref. 2240 features a grenage dial—a labor-intensive, costly craft that few watchmakers, even those operating at the high end, bother to practice any longer. It begins as a solid piece of silver, and what appears to be printing is in fact achieved by hand-engraving and then filling with lacquer. Such careful and assiduous ways make for a limited annual output. In the case of Urban Jurgensen, it’s the low three-digits, making this an exceptional watch with a story that few have heard before, but is certainly worth telling.