A tribute to Peter Baumberger


“I met Peter Baumberger in person back at an event in 2007, and I find it fitting and just that we pay tribute to a man who not only as a character was special, but also for what he achieved in his period as a steward for Urban Jürgensen as a Brand and the watch industry as a whole. Coming up on 250 years of operation, it is only natural that many people along the way has had a hand in Urban Jürgensen´s historic track, and in this perspective – Peter provided an extraordinary contribution. We have received a Tribute to Peter Baumberger from Dr. Helmut Crott, who found new ownership back in the Company´s origin of Denmark, and likewise has played an important role in Urban Jürgensen’s past. It is with pleasure we bring Dr. Crott´s tribute here.”

Søren Jenry Petersen
President & CEO
Urban Jürgensen

Helmut Crott

A tribute to Peter Baumberger (Koppingen, 1939-Bienne, 2010), friend and watchmaker

Ten years ago, Peter Baumberger died in Biel. On the occasion of this anniversary, I would like to pay a brief tribute to the one who was a dear friend and an extraordinary character, whose ideas and personality marked the Swiss watch industry after the “quartz crisis”.

I first met Peter in November 1975, during a visit of the auction sale Peter Ineichen in Zürich. He was with the famous Derek Pratt. At that time, he was one of the world’s leading dealers in antique watches. His charming and “authentic” nature immediately fascinated me: this is how our friendship started, a friendship that lasted until the end of his life.

The name of Peter Baumberger will remain forever in Swiss watchmaking history thanks to his rescue and his revival of the historic brand Urban Jürgensen at Le Locle, which he acquired in the late 1970s. Undeniably, Peter played a pioneering role in the renaissance of the high-quality Swiss mechanical watch, long before others. As a trained watchmaker, he combined cutting-edge technical skills with a very distinct aesthetic sensitivity, as well as with an intimate knowledge of the works of the old masters; the remarkable confluence of these aspects is therefore the basis of his creative work.

Peter Baumberger put all his strength and his spirit at the disposal of Urban Jürgensen to give a new spark to the brand. From then on, the masterpieces produced under his direction bear witness to the quest for uncompromising perfection and the love for detail that characterized it. The automatic wrist watches references 2 and 3 with perpetual calendar represent the admirable result of this philosophy, while the oval pocket watch called “Hommage”, reference no 1, is today considered an icon of traditional mechanical watchmaking from the end of the 20th century, both aesthetically and technically.

Peter Baumberger

As a final point his research into the development of an Urban Jurgensen-specific caliber with a traditional detent escapement - a real first for a wristwatch production - is the apotheosis of Peter’s visionary spirit.

Ref11C with Detent

This work was notably carried out with Derek Pratt. The achievement of Peter’s projects and the respect of his very high quality standards would not have been possible without the genius and the know-how of the English watchmaker, with whom Peter has maintained professional and friendly ties since the early 1970s. Originally, the master clockmaker had restored a few rare historic watches for Peter, such as the Vacheron Constantin pocket watch offered to King Faoud 1st in 1929.

Peter Baumberger also worked as a forerunner by discovering other personalities whose names are currently unavoidable in the watchmaking world: think of Kari Voutilainen or Jean-François Mojon. Irrefutably, he had a particular gift for recognizing and promoting exceptional talents, which he then put at the service of his brand.

Peter Baumberger looked in vain for a worthy successor to replace him at the head of his beloved brand. His family found him dead on May 18, 2010, at the age of 71 in his workshop in Biel. His face had a peaceful expression and Peter held a watch magazine in his hands, leaving us a legacy of his eternal passion for watchmaking.