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The Private Collection of Theodor Beyer

Hotel Baur Au Lac, Zurich, November 16, 2003

LOT 39

Urban Jürgensen, No. 353/VIII, made in 1818, sold to Count Adam Wilhelm Moltke. Exceptionally fine and rare large silver free-sprung deck chronometer with helical gold balance spring, and regulator dial in original two-tier fitted mahogany box.

C. Four-body, "Consular", by master casemaker Johan Friedrich Hansemann, with hinged silver cuvette, polished, back with winding aperture.Box: two-tier with a portion lined with green velvet that can be lifted and tilted to display the watch in a vertical position, sliding bottom panel for a key and chart, lock in front. D. White enamel, radial Roman hour chapter at 10 o'clock, symmetrically to the right minute chapter with fifteen-minute Arabic markers, subsidiary seconds. Blued steel "spade and poker" hands. M. 55.8 mm (24'''), gilt brass half plate, slightly conical pillars, fusee and chain with Harrison's maintaining power, Arnold spring detent chronometer escapement, three-arm cut compensation balance with three sliding wedge temperature adjustment weights and three mean-time/poising screws, gold helical balance spring with terminal curves, jeweled to the third wheel, diamond endstone on the balance staff, large motion train between hour and minute subsidiary dials.Signed on the dial and the back plate, pillar plate punched with maker's trademark, case punched "IFH" withina heart-crest.Diam. 69 mm.

C. Four-body, "Consular", by master casemaker Johan Friedrich Hansemann, with hinged silver cuvette, polished, back with winding aperture.Box: two-tier with a portion lined with green velvet that can be lifted and tilted to display the watch in a vertical position, sliding bottom panel for a key and chart, lock in front.

CHF 70,000 - 90,000

EUR 46,000 - 60,000 / USD 52,000 - 67,000

Sold: CHF 174,000

Grading System


Case: 3


Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01


HANDS Original


A superbly made watch which exemplifies Jürgensen's talent. This is the eighth of his famous series of chronometers. The escapement is based on Arnold's design. The brass escape wheel has cycloidal impulse faces. The detent is mounted to a gilded brass arm, which has micrometric adjustment, allowing for precision adjustment of the locking stone. Many were later converted to the Earnshaw type, and it is rare to find one which has survived in original condition.In his early years, Urban Jürgensen used cases made by Johan Friedrich Hansemann (1787-1843), a Danish goldsmith of German origin who became a Master in 1810. He made the cases for some of Jürgensen's best chronometers.John Arnold was the first to use gold balance springs, probably employing them as early as 1779. Both Jürgensen's teacher and future father-in-law, Jacques Frédéric Houriet and Breguet, experimented with gold balance springs, but it was Urban Jürgensen who perfected them and put them to effective use.The company records reveal that although Count Moltke bought the watch for himself, he lent it for a number of scientific expeditions. This would explain the application of the gold balance spring, which Jürgensen used in his best chronometers destined to go to sea. On the occasion of the 1862 Universal Exhibition Messrs. Jürgensen wrote: "the balance spring of gold not only presents the inestimable advantage of not being damaged by rust, but also not being influenced by magnetism. This property appears to be the more important one, with reference to box chronometers (destined for the sea), as the application of iron for shipbuilding is becoming ever more extensive. That the rates of chronometers with golden springs are as good as those with springs of steel is, in our opinion, best proved by the reports of the rates of several chronometers which have been observed on land, in the observatory of the Danish Navy, at Copenhagen, and also on board Danish ships of war".In the same note the Astronomer Royal and Director of the Observatory at Altona was quoted: "A considerable number of chronometers has been executed in Mr. Jürgensen's establishment, which have all proved superiority in their construction. We particularly draw attention to the cylindrical balance springs which are made of gold, and with respect... to alloys, elasticity, and dimensions, are based upon the experience of a great many years".Jürgensen & Sonner was founded in 1773. Following the wishes of his father, Jürgen, who was the founder of the company, Urban Jürgensen trained as a watchmaker in Paris, London, Geneva and Le Locle. It was under his management that the company's pocket watches and precision timekeepers for navigation and astronomy achieved international fame and recognition. Danish King Frederick VI, granted him a Royal Appointment to supply the Court with watches and the Admiralty with chronometers. Their conception, design, the superb manner in which the mechanism is executed, as well as the excellent quality of the steel, soon made Urban Jürgensen's watches highly coveted collector's items.Urban Jürgensen & Sonner Copenhagen continues to produce complicated, classically-styled watches, individually, or in very small series. Count Adam Wilhelm Moltke (1785-1864). Danish statesman, son of the minister Joachim Godske Moltke (1746- 1818), and grandson of Adam Gottlob Moltke, was born at Einsiedelsborg on the 25th of August 1785. He abandoned the legal career he had adopted in early life to enter the administrative service of the state. He entered public life in 1809, acting as assessor of the Supreme Court. In 1831 he became minister of finance under Frederick VI, and president of the rentekammeret exchequer in 1845 under Christian VIII. When the new king, Frederick VII, renounced absolute rule in March 1848, a representative government was formed with Moltke as Prime Minister. The fact that a distinguished statesman who had served the last two absolute kings of Denmark voluntarily accepted the prime ministership gave the new government prestige and an air of stability and trustworthiness. Likewise, the fact that he retained the ministry of finance was of itself a guarantee of security during the early years of a troublesome and costly war. Indeed, it seems to have been Moltke's destiny to bridge the gap between the old era and the new.In 1848 he became Konseilspræsident, the equivalent of Prime Minister, in Denmark's first government responsible to Parliament. Count Moltke rendered important services to his country. His first administration introduced the constitution of the 5th of June 1849, and he presided over the third constitutional ministry, which was formed in July 1851. Moltke resigned on January 27, 1852, due to his disapproval of the decree aimed at transforming Denmark into a composite, indivisible monarchy. Moltke continued to take part in public life as a member of the Landsting, or Upper House, but henceforth remained discreetly in the background. On October 2, 1855 he was elected a member of the consultative Rigsraad, a position he held until 1863. Adam Wilhelm Moltke died on February 15, 1864.