Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants


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Urban Jürgensen

Early Reference 8 in Platinum sold


The venerable Urban Jürgensen & Sønner brand was founded in 1773 by Urban Jürgensen, a Danish watch and chronometer manufacturer, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2023. The brand has earned a reputation for producing outstanding pocket watches. In 1979, it was revived by Peter Baumberger, a passionate watch collector and entrepreneur, in collaboration with the remarkable British watchmaker Derek Pratt. The modern Urban Jürgensen collection was never mass-produced and was primarily aimed at selected connoisseurs and collectors.

The Reference 8 came onto the market in the 1990s as Urban Jürgensen’s most affordable watch at the time – this naturally applies to the models in stainless steel. 


The Urban Jürgensen Reference Big 8 Early Platinum appears to be an extremely attractive purchase for the collector who wants to acquire an early, very valuable and rare mechanical wristwatch from a watch brand that specializes in collector’s haute horlogerie watches. What makes this watch particularly attractive is that its calm, traditionally designed case with ‘double pomme’ bezel and elegant, drop-shaped lugs is made of platinum, making it the most exclusive version of this dress model. The early production of the watch is confirmed by the inscription ‘Copenhagen’ on the dial cartouche and the presence of a solid platinum caseback. The real treasure of this watch is the beautiful solid silver dial, decorated by hand with three types of guilloché, and the gorgeous ‘Observatoire’ hands in a two-tone design in blued steel and gold – some of the best hands in the industry.


The Reference 8, like all other early models of the brand, is a handmade watch that is individually crafted and is indeed unique, even though it was produced in series. At least the many options speak for this, making it difficult to track down all existing versions, although the brand’s production was very limited and the brand chose not to expand it, prioritizing quality over quantity. As such, there are two basic versions of the Reference 8 – a 37mm model known simply as the Reference 8 and a 40mm model known as the Reference Big 8 (this watch). In addition to the use of different materials – from stainless steel to 18k gold to platinum, as in this watch – there are also two different caseback versions: the exhibition caseback with a crystal and the traditional closed caseback made of solid metal, as in this watch.

Another dimension opens up when we look at the dial of this watch. First of all, the Urban Jürgensen watches of the early editions, to which this Reference Big 8 belongs, bear the inscription ‘Copenhagen’ on the dial, as we see on this watch, while the watches of later production no longer have this inscription. Some examples of the Reference Big 8 do not have a date display, but this watch does. It is worth mentioning that the brand pays attention to perfection even in small details: The date window is shaped as a segment of the ring to resemble a trapezoid with a curved top and bottom edge. Urban Jürgensen’s characteristic ‘Observatoire’ hour and minute hands can either be made entirely of gold or bimetal, with a blued steel base into which the large golden ‘eye’ of the hour hand and the central tubes (cannons) are pressed. The most charismatic, in our opinion, is the two-tone version that we find in this example. The small seconds hand deserves special attention. It can also be made of gold, but in this watch, it is also two-tone, with the blued steel hand on a gold tube.

The watch case is traditionally handcrafted, whereby the case ring and the drop-shaped lugs typical of Urban Jürgensen being made separately and then soldered. Connoisseurs will notice the impeccable craftsmanship of this process, where the solder line is barely visible on visual inspection. All parts of the case are carefully polished. The ‘double pomme’ profile of the polished bezel deserves special attention and gives the watch an unmistakable classic character. The same bezel design proved extremely successful in the creation of classic Blancpain wristwatches following the relaunch of the brand collection in 1983 by Jean-Claude Biver.

The dial is also an outstanding example of traditional craftsmanship, an aspect of Reference Big 8 that the brand, like all other early Urban Jürgensen releases, owes to its master watchmaker Derek Pratt, a protagonist of ancient decorative techniques. In particular, it is known that many early Urban Jürgensen watches, and probably this example as well, were made by Derek Pratt himself, including the guilloché work, the results of which can be enjoyed when looking at the dial of this watch. The guilloché work on the Reference Big 8 dial consists of three different styles: a guilloché ‘lozenge’ in the center, a ‘vieux panier’ (basket-weave) guilloché for the small deconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, and a filet sauté guilloché outlines. All the decorations on the dial were made by hand on a rose machine, quite probably by Derek Pratt himself – he is known to have been an outstanding master of this finishing technique. The bicolor ‘Observatoire’ hands by Urban Jürgensen are equally difficult to manufacture. The notable ‘eye’ of the hour hand is a solid gold insert, concentrically diamond polished and friction-fitted into the hand which makes it a real eye-catcher. The tubes (cannons) riveted on the hands are also in gold.

The movement inside is based on the respectable Frédéric Piguet caliber 1160 with automatic winding – the 1150 version with small seconds, which is still one of the best in its category. Its 21k gold rotor is decorated with a ‘grain de riz’ guilloché pattern and bears the monogram of Urban Jürgensen & Sønner.

In 2021, Kari Voutilainen, the independent Swiss watchmaker of Finnish origin, took over Urban Jürgensen together with a group of investors and was appointed CEO. The style and obvious craftsmanship, as well as the high proportion of manual labour invested in the production of their watches, are common to both brands.


GlassSapfire glass
Case materialPlatinum
YearCirca 1999




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