t the age of 16, once he had finished his watchmaking studies in Denmark, Jürgen Jürgensen travelled to Paris, to study and work with the famous watchmakers there. For several years he worked with Ferdinand Berthoud and Pierre Le Roy among many others, and he became a lifelong friend of Abraham-Louis Breguet. After leaving Paris he spent some time in Geneva, where he made the contacts and friends he needed to purchase watch components and movement blanks.
On his return to Denmark he set himself up in the workshop that belonged to his close friend Isaac Larpent, and began working on his first repeating watch. Watches from that time were signed “Larpent & Jürgensen”.
- Larpent & Jürgensen no. 845, made in 1781–1782. White enamel dial with Roman and Arabic numerals. Richly decorated and engraved case.
- Urban Jürgensen Chronometer 649/35, 1820. Heavy solid silver case, enamel dial with the typical bold Urban Jürgensen Roman and Arabic numerals for hours and minutes respectively.
He and his wife, Anna Bruun, went on to have six children, the oldest of whom, Urban, was born on 5 August 1776. Urban learned watchmaking in Denmark and proved to be very talented. When he turned 21 his father sent him to Le Locle in Switzerland, to further his education and learn about the latest horological developments. He spent 18 months working with Frédéric Houriet, a friend and business partner of his father.
- Urban Jürgensen Chronometer 649/35, Earnshaw-type chronometer escapement, bimetallic compensating balance with two wedge-shaped weights and two Mean Time screws. Diamond end stones. Gold cylindrical hairspring.
Urban spent time in Geneva, and then Paris, where he worked with Abraham-Louis Breguet, from whom he learned a great deal, and gained inspiration. He travelled to England, where he met the famous watchmaker John Arnold.
- Beautiful and unusual movement with a large mainspring barrel rather than a fusée and chain. Symmetrical layout, balance wheel with a U-shaped piece for temperature compensation, steel hairspring.
- Urban Jürgensen prototype made circa 1800. White enamel dial with elegant blue Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes. Small seconds at 12 o’clock. Blued steel Breguet-style hands. Arabic numerals on seconds register feature 2 x 35 seconds rather than 1-60. Smooth 18K gold case, dust cover signed Urban Jürgensen. This prototype was probably begun during his stay in Paris and completed after his return to Denmark in 1801. Urban certainly drew inspiration from his teacher Abraham-Louis Breguet, and particularly the Subscription watches for which Breguet was famous.
Upon his return to Denmark in 1801 he joined his father’s business and started making fine precision chronometers under his own name: Urban Jürgensen. His years of study and work with famous master watchmakers had given him the knowledge and good taste he needed to create outstanding timepieces of the highest calibre. He made fine pocket chronometers, marine chronometers for ships and many precision clocks.
More information to follow in the next episode!