The name Alfred could be said to conjure the image of a Victorian butler ready to attend to his master. It’s a vision of pristine efficiency, and one that’s inherent in ‘Alfred’ – the latest timepiece from Urban Jürgensen. Except the name doesn’t come from a fictional valet, instead it’s a tribute to the last watchmaker in the Jürgensen dynasty, Jacques Alfred Jürgensen.
As the second generation of the Jürgensen family to be born in Le Locle, Switzerland, Jacques Alfred Jürgensen joined the company at the age of 19 and worked on chronographs and complications. He also set up his own company to produce watches under his own name and even for third-party customers, such as Tiffany & Co. Jacques passed away in 1912, but his legacy lives on in a bold new wristwatch by Urban Jürgensen. The ‘Alfred’ is designed with the younger customer in mind and will be sold exclusively online.
Like other independent brands who are exploring new online sales channels, Urban Jürgensen has embraced the trend with its concierge service, which offers a direct point of contact in countries where there is no authorised dealer. The company takes things a step further with the ‘Alfred’ and speaks directly to the millennials to whom this watch is targeted, wherever they may be. Buyers will have the opportunity to collect their watch from the company’s new workshops in Bienne, Switzerland. At a quarterly event, Urban Jürgensen CEO Soren Jenry Petersen will introduce the buyers to the craftsmen who have spent months working on their watches, before delivering the finished article. It will be an opportunity for the company to explain its unique ‘grenage’ dial finish, and the intricacy of its hour and minute hands, which are assembled and finished by hand. The craftsmen can also outline the in-house P4 manually-wound mechanical movement.
Urban Jürgensen watches reflect classic design, restrained elegance and a quiet confidence. Their beauty is the result of a long-lasting passion for uncompromising artisanship. Each piece is crafted with the belief that perfection is seldom the product of haste. The new ‘Alfred’ model distils the finest of the brand’s century-old traditions, while also adding a touch of modernity to its collection.
The iconic case with teardrop shaped lugs is fashioned out of steel and opts for a modern 42mm diameter. Each lug is individually forged, meticulously hand-finished and soldered to the watch case in a way which makes the joins invisible to the naked eye. Its finely polished convex bezel frames a domed sapphire crystal. The recessed, fluted crown, is engraved with Urban Jürgensen logo.
Its ‘grené’ dial is very the embodiment of artisan craftsmanship. ‘Grenage’ is a traditional, time-consuming technique, that aims to obtain a silvery, frosted surface, which is noted for its remarkable depth and granularity. This rare finish is patiently honed by hand from a single piece of solid silver. The Breguet-style numerals and other inscriptions on the dial are engraved and the recesses are filled with lacquer. The dial is then brushed to remove the excess of material and to smooth its surface using powders, salts and oil which makes each dial unique.
The understated elegance of the dial is complimented by distinctive hands. Entirely hand-crafted, a single set requires some 50 manufacturing steps: over a day’s work the surfaces are patiently finished, the steel arms are thermally blued and the eye of the hour hand is mirror-polished.
These hands are advanced precisely by the Urban Jürgensen Calibre P4 with manual winding. Displaying small seconds at 6 o’clock, this twin barrel calibre runs at 21,600 vibrations per hour with a 72h autonomy. Finished to Urban Jurgensen’s superlative standards, the mechanism can be admired through the exhibition caseback. The P4 calibre is decorated with Geneva stripes radiating from the balance wheel and perlage. The full balance bridge is openwork and the contours of the bridges are underscored with superb manual chamfering. Jewel sinks and recesses are finely polished and the screws undergo a thermal blueing process.
The ‘Alfred’ is worn on a brown leather strap, which is finished off with a contrasting white stitch carefully sewn by hand. Made with the finest calf leather, it has a natural and soft feel which ages gracefully with wear.
With salient details, including a large case, superb grené dial and elegant leather strap, the ‘Alfred’ is in a class of its own among the Urban Jürgensen collection. It is true to the brand’s legacy of classic design, but with a modern twist. Authentic, original and crafted with exacting attention to details, it is simply in tune with the times.
Its in-house movement, the high level of craftsmanship and the limited production run makes the ‘Alfred’ an enticing prospect for those looking for a unique and classic mechanical watch.