In celebration of 240 years in the business Urban Jürgensen & Sønner have unveiled the magnificent Montre Observatoire Émail 2013. The model represents a new flawless facade, one which belies the inner complexities of the in-house P8 Calibre which powers this piece.
I cannot stress how technically adept the P8 Calibre is. It features a highly unusual Pivoted Detent Escapement, a construction which was originally devised to be safely anchored in its habitual environment of a marine chronometre and therefore is one which has no business being in a wristwatch at all.
To place a Detent escapement inside the case of a wristwatch was considered to be impossible, futile even - but the conundrum was solved by using some of the best that the industry has to offer. Jean-François Mojon, director of Chronode SA, GPHG Best Watchmaker 2010 and collaborator on the Opus X was given the responsibility for developing what would become the UJS Calibre P8, and its production and finishing were the responsibility of the remarkable Kari Voutilainen, AHCI member, meticulous craftsman and perfection-seeker.
I have written an extensive article regarding the Calibre P8 and its unusual construction, such is my irrational fixation with this device (link through at the bottom of this page... ) but for now I will concentrate on the extrinsics of this fine example of craftsmanship.
Perhaps you are already familiar with the face-on exquisiteness of Urban Jürgensen & Sønner timepieces with their fine hand-guilloché texturing? This piece offers a new panorama, the purity of Grand Feu enamelling.
Enamel watch dials such as this demand the skills and undivided attention of an experienced and patient craftsman or woman. It is created using a method of mixing fine glass powders which are laid onto metal before being oven-fired. The extreme heat melts the ultra-fine powders. The result, when successful is loupe-worthy perfection of the utmost purity. But this is only a compendious description, the process is much more detailed and involves layer upon layer of the frangible material in order to complete the fine, milky appearance. Even the most miniscule flaw will render the brittle sliver which is being worked on completely useless.
To create the dial of each Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Montre Observatoire Émail requires up to 15 layers of vitreous enamel, applied onto a base metal of either platinum or 22K gold - another indication of the quality of these models. Even so, each finished dial will be no more than 1.2mm thick, an astounding statistic given the complexities of the process. After polishing the hand-working continues as each elegant numeral is hand-painted.
Even more dexterous hand-crafting is called upon to paint the fine railtrack at the dial edge and for the indications. Blued hands complete this truly stunning timepiece.
The limited edition Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Montre Observatoire Émail 2013 will be presented in a 42mm case with options of rose gold or platinum.
My previous article "How do you solve a problem like .... the detent?" here.
Peter Baumberger, the man who instigated the UJS P8 adventure and who inspired Messrs. Voutilainen and Mojon to achieve the nigh on impossible died in 2010 leaving his good friend Helmutt Crott to continue the undertaking.