5. Basel 2010
In conclusion, I want to share a few pictures of Urban Jürgensen's latest creations. When these might be offered for sale is anyone's guess. I know the new movement has been in development for several years and prototypes were shown in Basel last year. The detent chronometer escapement piece is killer.
This year Peter Baumberger, the owner of the brand and chief designer, went to a place I was happy to see, a steel cased UJS! 40mm with a beautifully finished F. Piguet based self-winding caliber sporting a 21k gold engine turned rotor. The silver dials with their exquisite engine turned face are simply stunning, together with those beautiful hands, make for some of the most elegant watches made today.
The recent death, last year, of Derek Pratt was a tremendous blow to Peter and his baby, Urban Jurgensen. Responsible for much of the creative watchmaking within Urban Jürgensen & Sønner, and sole creator of a couple of UJS complicated pocketwatches, the horological world is much the poorer for his passing. But onto bigger and more happy subjects, the introduction of a new Perpetual Calendar model is superb.
Using a similar windows layout to the Reference 2 Perpetual Calendar, this new watch is quite stunning and will appeal very much to collectors of classic, elegant thin wristwatches, rather than the fairly recent departure into big flashy watches that many brands have delved. The other new feature are two toned hands, of blued steel and gold, which is a revival of an old UJS tradition. I was also privy to several rather unusual, for UJS, dials that are protoypes at this point, but if released, will certainly appeal to other collectors than the traditional hand engine turned silver dials found in the UJS gems.
The 40mm Perpetual Calendar on my wrist:
Check out Vianney's display at his stand nearby the AHCI stand: can you say Steampunk! Actually this was a display from an exhibit of Steampunk artists in the UK that occured last year at Oxford University.
And the watches, a RG Antiqua and a WG Trio on wild colored straps:
A view from outside the main watch exhibition area, Hall 1. Audi are big sponsors of the show, providing cars for shuttling VIP's around Basel.
I headed over to the Bahnhof, via the green trams that run throughout the city, in order to take the train back down to Luzern. I could/should have spent an extra day in Basel, I was out of time and missed several places I wished I could have visited. Oh well, til next year...
As my trip to Basel 2010 drew to an end, I was kindly invited by Richard & Maria Habring to join them and several other friends, watch industry veterans, a Purist or two...We arrived in the restaurant to mingle for a 10 minutes or so, while everyone assembled. We were able to view some of HABRING² most recent offerings, the new Time Only, with it's sub second hand at 9 o'clock, for me a preferred position.
Another view of it, not sure about the patent leather strap though!
It sports a movement that Richard and Maria have conceived to offer a wonderfully priced self-winding or manual watch by a leading Independent Watchmaker, in a classic 42mm cased timepiece.
The back of the Time Only:
The other piece I loved was the Foudroyante or "Flashing second" as HABRING² likes to refer to the second seconds indicator at 9 o'clock, together with central Jumping second hand. It has a life all of it's own, that rapidly revolves 8 times a second.
Some might find it distracting, however I think it is a wonderful use of the caliber's natural motion. Driven directly off the escape wheel that has, in a 28,800 vph caliber, 8 motions a second.
Here again though not moving on my wrist!:
In other words, as the escapement releases the escape wheel 8 times a second, the little hand at 9 o'clock shows this motion; normally hidden deep in a watch caliber and revealed occasionally with an exhibition back, Richard has shown true movement of a basic horological nature. Quite ingenious, and possibly my most favoured of HABRING² offerings to date.
Another couple of HABRING² pieces an Automatic Jumping seconds and a steel COS chronograph:
I was able to view several other of the Automatics with Jumping Seconds, sporting several complications, such as a triple date moonphase, the second timezone and also a world timer. The wonderful Chronograph COS in a brushed Titanium case and grey dial with silver sub zones for running seconds and 30 minute chrono counter. Richard developed a clever mechanism to operate the chrono functions using the crown, by twisting it, in order to start, stop and reset. Doing away with the traditional chrono pushers at 2 and 4 o'clock, a clean look is created for the case.
HABRING² has set out on a path that I admire immensely. Responsible for several huge industry firsts, he has shunned the big watch brands massive advertising and marketing avenue. In it's place the world's possibly smallest manufacturer has embarked on a mission to create and provide watch lovers with great value and very exclusive watches. Only making relatively minute amounts annually, the buyer of a HABRING² watch is assured of a great experience owning one of these timepieces. The chance of bumping into another collector wearing one is small to none. Gaining an appreciation of Maria & Richard's philosophy makes for a compelling desire to own one or more of their creations.
A wrist shot of the Foudroyante "Flashing Seconds":