The Immortals – The Urban Jürgensen One is the integrated bracelet sports watch for those “in the know”D.C. Hannay
Editor’s note: The Immortals is a new series that examines a watch that we believe deserves recognition as a bona fide modern classic. You’ll already be familiar with most of the watches, we imagine. But DC will delve a bit deeper into these timepieces to explain why they’ve quickly established themselves in the horological canon. Today, it’s the Urban Jürgensen One.
Talk about a twist. Here’s a move I’m willing to bet very few people saw coming: a stainless-steel luxury sports watch from revered Danish/Swiss watchmaker Urban Jürgensen. This couldn’t have been more of an out-of-left-field development, considering that the brand, whose origins stretch all the way back to 1773, has long been known for its quietly conservative timepieces of unimpeachable quality. Hell, they didn’t even produce wristwatches until the 1980s. So to see Urban Jürgensen launch a steel sports model in 2019, going toe-to-toe with heavy-hitters in the space like Patek and AP was, to put it mildly, a surprise.
Yet, here we are, staring at the sleek, stylish, and immaculately crafted Urban Jürgensen One (Ref. 5241), and it’s every bit a contender. Not only is the One a viable alternative to the nigh on impossible-to-get Nautilus, Royal Oak, or Vacheron Constantin Overseas, it could be, frankly, a better choice. If you consider yourself an individual thinker, immune to the whims of the nonstop hype train that often tends to run off the rails of the watch landscape, you’d be well served to put the One on your shortlist. You’ll be rewarded with a truly handmade timepiece that offers a luxurious look and feel, not to mention the exclusivity of a watch for those truly “in the know”.
Urban Jürgensen had never made an automatic movement before the One, never mind a bracelet, and both those important elements bring to bear some jaw-dropping craftsmanship in a new space for the brand. Jürgensen watches before tended toward the conservative, with discreet designs of a decidedly dressier nature, but the One tore up the blueprint of what had already come. Any watch entering the integrated bracelet sports watch market will inevitably be compared to the Gerald Genta designs of the past, but the One eschews the sometimes stark angles of, for example, the Royal Oak, instead flowing gentle, sinuous curves throughout the case and bracelet elements. You’d be hard pressed to find anything resembling a straight line, rather, elements like the elliptical shape of the bracelet’s polished centre links are the visual focus. Everything is so well-designed, you’ll be surprised to find that the bracelet and case aren’t actually integrated, but the whole affair wears much the same. The case offers a softly brushed top and polished bezel, and the 41mm size fits a broad range of wrists. The steel itself? A medical grade 1.4441 stainless alloy that not only outperforms standard 304 stainless, but is harder than the 904L alloy used by brands like Rolex.
The dial itself warrants special mention: available in Charcoal Grey, Urban Blue, and the eggshell-like Soft White, the barleycorn guilloché texture of the centre is an attractive alternative to the horizontal motif of the Nautilus or the tapisserie of the Royal Oak. Applied dial markers and the openworked handset are filled with lume, a sporting touch not seen on an Urban Jürgensen model before. The hands are painstakingly hand-polished, and a date window resides at the 3 o’clock position.
The movement is the in-house Calibre P5, and boasts 34 jewels, a 72-hour reserve, and an incredibly high level of finishing, including intricate engraving and a 22k gold rotor. Between the finishing of the dial and the movement, you’d be forgiven for thinking they belong in a delicate dress watch, but the One features a screwdown crown, and is actually water resistant to 120 metres. It’s not every watch of this standard that’s equally at home swimming (or base jumping, if that’s more your speed) as it is in the mahogany-panelled library of a stately manor.
And the One isn’t just one, actually. Urban Jürgensen also offers the blue-dialled Ref. 5541 GMT version. Apart from the automatic GMT movement, it offers similar specs to the time-only model, with the addition of a 24-hour subdial and two slim pushers on the left side of the case to easily set the second time zone. Are there more variants in the One’s future? Only time will tell, but it seems that the model would make an excellent platform from which to launch further complications and dial options. And who knows? Urban Jürgensen’s ownership recently transferred to watchmaking legend Kari Voutilainen, so it’s a safe bet that he has the inside track on the One’s future. I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.