• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1357

    Important Watches

    17 November 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 387

    Urban Jürgensen. An extraordinary and unique 18K pink gold openface twin barrel one minute tourbillon with carriage-mounted remontoire, constant force escapement, jumping dead beat seconds and power reserve


    Price Realised  


    Urban Jürgensen. An extraordinary and unique 18K pink gold openface twin barrel one minute tourbillon with carriage-mounted remontoire, constant force escapement, jumping dead beat seconds and power reserve
    Signed Urban Jürgensen & Sønner, No. 01, movement signed Derek Pratt, Invenit et Fecit, The Only Number One Rose Gold-Cased Skeletonised Tourbillon with Carriage-Mounted Remontoire, manufactured between 1979 and 1982
    Skeletonized twin barrel gilded nickel-silver movement, carriage-mounted remontoire, constant force escapement, polished three arm steel tourbillon carriage, bimetallic compensation balance, gold screws, five hinged double spring glazed gold cuvette, engine-turned silver dial, Roman numerals on black chapter ring, aperture for 36 hours power reserve, subsidiary dead beat seconds, gold Breguet hands, heavy circular plain case, case, dial and movement signed
    62 mm. diam.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    With Urban Jürgensen Certificate, original fitted wooden presentation box and outer packaging. Furthermore delivered with various articles on Urban Jürgensen and the tourbillon with carriage-mounted remontoire.

    To the best of our knowledge, the present tourbillon has never been offered at auction before and is furthermore the first example of this model to appear in public to date. This exceedingly rare timepiece impresses moreover by its excellent, like new condition.

    This unique rose gold tourbillon is the creation of Urban Jürgensen & Sønner whose master watchmaker Derek Pratt worked on the timepiece for 4,300 hours between 1979 and 1982. It may have been the first tourbillon to incorporate a remontoire within, instead of under, the tourbillon carriage of a watch. The timepiece possibly also houses the smallest ever remontoire, a device aimed at maintaining a constant supply of force to the escapement, thus increasing its accuracy. The construction of the present tourbillon follows on from the work of other watchmakers, past and present, such as the English master watchmaker George Daniels who mounted a remontoire under a tourbillon carriage.

    While the first tourbillon invented by Abraham Louis Breguet around 1795 had a revolving period of one minute, others were later developed with periods of anything from about one minute to around one hour.

    The present one-minute tourbillon indicates full dead beat seconds and is equipped with a carriage-mounted remontoire, twin mainspring barrels and power reserve. The inscriptions "Unique No. 1 - Number One in Rose Gold" on the transmission wheel and "Invenit et Fecit, Derek Pratt, 1992, The Only Number One Rose Gold-Cased Skeletonised Tourbillon with Carriage-Mounted Remontoire" on the barrels and bridges of the movement were hand-etched by Pierre Matthey.

    Remontoires are designed to compensate for variations in the driving force and power transmission which can result in fluctuations in the impulse delivered to the balance. The one-second remontoire fitted within the carriage of the present timepiece (and which is concentric with the escape wheel) ensures that the carriage advances once each second while the remontoire rewinds. As a result, the seconds hand beats full seconds. The remontoire itself is of the Barbezat-Bôle type which does not "trip". The use of two barrels meanwhile provides a gentle deceleration of the tourbillon carriage.

    Such tourbillon construction achieves several results: it ensures constant amplitude of the balance in a vertical position of 220 degrees, irrespective of any fluctuations in the torque applied by the mainsprings, errors in the gear train or lack of poise in the carriage. Furthermore the seconds hand indicates full dead beat seconds and keeps the motion of the wheel train separate from the action of the escapement.

    This one-second remontoire tourbillon made for Urban Jürgensen & Sønner represents an entirely new approach to the solving of the problem of inertia, defined as the reluctance of a body to change its state of motion. Previously, watchmakers had sought to overcome inertia by reducing the body mass of the carriage, a technique taken to almost impossible limits by the Deutsche Uhrmacherschule Glashütte under Professor Alfred Helwig.

    However, by separating the motions of the escapement from that of the carriage, the problem of inertia is fundamentally overcome. This is achieved by virtue of the remontoire, which in the present watch consists of two concentrically-arranged escapements. The first gives impulse to the balance and has a 15-tooth escape wheel, while the second escapement for the remontoire features a three-tooth escape wheel. A spiral spring is mounted between the two escape wheels fixed on one side to the staff of the 15-tooth escape wheel and on the other side to the staff of the three-tooth remontoire wheel. This spring, which is "set up" or put under tension, is the sole source of impulse to the balance.

    Derek Pratt
    The present watch is part of a series of tourbillons on which Derek Pratt worked as chief technician at Urban Jürgensen & Sønner since the beginning of their association in the mid 1970s. Born in 1938 in Orpington, Kent, England, Derek Pratt trained in watch and clock technology at the National College of Horology in London between 1955 and 1959, followed by an apprenticeship at S. Smith & Sons in the English capital. In 1965, he moved permanently to Switzerland and in the following decades worked on the restoration and development of timepieces, including complicated watches and early iron clocks. His impressive body of work includes the present Urban Jürgensen tourbillon, a testimony to the successful collaboration between the creative talent of this master watchmaker and the centuries-old watch manufacture.

    During his career, Derek Pratt obtained an impressive number of accolades for his contribution to horology. He was made a Freeman of England's Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1979 and a Liveryman in 1982. In 1992, he was honoured with the British Horological Institute's Silver Medal followed by the Tompion Gold Medal in 2005 from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. In Switzerland he was awarded the Gaïa Prize, category Craftmanship-Creation, in 1999. The Gaïa Prize was initiated in 1993 by the curator and directors of the Musée International d'Horlogerie (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This international prize is dedicated to Maurice Ditisheim, an early patron of the museum. It is awarded to those who have advanced horology and promoted the arts, history, and culture of timekeeping through their work.

    Derek Pratt's other achievements include the English translation of several books on horology with his wife J. Haller Pratt and collaboration on the translation of Daniels' renowned tome "Watchmaking" into French. Derek Pratt himself has also written widely on the subject of horology.

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Only Number One Rose Gold-Cased Skeletonized Tourbillon with Carriage-Mounted Remontoire


    A Tourbillon indicating full seconds with carriage-mounted remontoire, twin barrels and up & down indicator by Urban Jürgensen & Sønner, Copenhagen in The Horological Journal, July 1991, pp. 9-15.