Taurus • 1938 – 2009

On Derek Pratt, Dr Timothy Treffry - a former Editor of the British Horological Institute, said "Derek made a handful of rather special clocks with highly imaginative mechanisms, but as a watchmaker, he was among the finest of his generation."

Much of Daniels’ accomplishments were realised with the help of his peers. And amongst his peers, none was as important as Derek Pratt (1938-2009). Like Daniels, Pratt was an Englishman but unlike Daniels who continued living in Britain till his passing, Pratt chose to base himself in a village outside of Zurich for most of his working life.

Described by David Newman, the Chairman of the charity established by the Daniels estate as “George’s greatest horological friend”, Pratt would long-distance dial and dialogue with Daniels every Sunday morning by telephone. Their relationship was tangible as well: Pratt had consulted Daniels on his numerous inventions and produced components for many of Daniels’ watches, although his contributions were never formally acknowledged by Daniels.

Property of Mr Firmin Li

Property of Mr Firmin Li


Urban Jürgensen & Sønner Copenhagen by Derek Pratt

The late Derek Pratt is best known for his work with Urban Jürgensen & Sonner (UJS), a 19th century Danish name resurrected in the 20th century by Swiss antique watch collector and dealer Peter Baumberger.

Amongst Pratt’s most impressive work for UJS were a small number of tourbillon pocket watches executed in the style of the finest Swiss observatory-chronometer tourbillons of the early 20th century - think Albert Pellaton. While several variants of the tourbillon watches were produced – most notably, some featured a constant force mechanism integrated into the tourbillon. And naturally, all of them were made and finished by hand. 


Despite being widely regarded as an equal of Daniels in technical prowess - in his autobiography Daniels himself pronounced Pratt “an accomplished technical watchmaker in the true sense [who] can make every component of a watch from raw material” - Pratt is hardly known outside the closed coterie of connoisseurs, which is why his influence in the broader industry is circumscribed.

He was a restorer par excellence, a scholar and published author in all things horological. A kind and modest man according to all who knew him – explaining in part his obscurity - Pratt was in many ways the stereotypical independent artisan who spent his lifetime working for others. This also explains why his name has little prominence on watch dials (at least not yet!).

Pratt is now best known for the work he did for Urban Jürgensen & Sønner (UJS), an 18th century Danish brand that was revived in the 1970s by Swiss vintage watch dealer Peter Baumberger (1939-2010). The brand’s renaissance and subsequent success with collectors in the 1980s and 1990s was no doubt helped by Pratt’s skill and talent. Not only did he design several of the complication mechanisms for UJS wristwatches, produced many of the guilloche dials found on the wristwatches, he was also responsible for building the brand’s tourbillon pocket watches. And as it was with the work of Daniels, the house style of UJS was very much Breguet inspired.

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