Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room: Chanel’s acquisition of a minor stake in F.P. Journe. The news broke in mid-September and threw the watch industry into a tizzy. F.P. Journe, whose company motto “Invenit et Fecit” (Latin for invented and made), represented the pinnacle of in-house design, construction and mechanical ingenuity, so for many horophiles the move came somewhat as a surprise. Here at Revolution though, we argue that it’s something we should have seen coming. Chanel has demonstrated its support for independents in the past with its part-possession of Bell & Ross and its fruitful partnership with Romain Gauthier. To see F.P. Journe gaining the support of such an esteemed company can only mean good things in the years to come.
But let us backtrack a little, and revisit F.P. Journe’s creations this year. The Chronograph Monopusher Rattrapante was inspired by the unique, seven-figure Only Watch Monopusher Split-Seconds Chronograph, which fetched 1.15 million Swiss francs at the auction to become one of the most expensive independent timepieces ever sold at auction in 2017. The new chronograph, while not entirely the same as the unique Only Watch piece, is still a welcome addition to F.P. Journe’s LineSport collection, housing the new in-house caliber 1518 in a rubber-accented case of red gold, platinum or titanium. For more on the watch, as well as exclusive close-up photos, see here.
The Only Watch timepiece wasn’t the only publicly known unique piece F.P. Journe created. This year, the watchmaker announced a second unique spilt seconds chronograph that was made for Prince Albert II’s Charity Gala in Singapore. In an interview with the watchmaker himself, he tells us how he and Michael Tay, the group managing director of The Hour Glass, came up with the new unique piece for charity. “It was a discussion, because I shared these moments with Michael Tay. Since it was for Singapore, I said we’ll make it in blue because everybody likes blue and he said, ‘I have an idea maybe with special Chinese characters.’ He gave me the font and I took it and redrew the dial and then we made the dial in our workshops at Les Cadraniers de Genève.” The timepiece sold for US$290,000 at the charity ball in November.
F.P. Journe exhibits its timepieces at the Carres des Horlogers at SIHH, but in an unexpected twist, fair visitors will not be viewing any LineSport pieces, nor the Souveraine or the Octa collections. Instead, the booth at SIHH puts the spotlight solely on the Elegante collection, something Journe conceived for the ladies, a high-end quartz (quartz!) watch that is nothing like anything else in the market. We rarely talk about quartz movements at Revolution but F.P. Journe’s Elegante is an exception. The watchmaker, having learned from conversations with his clients that women appreciated and enjoyed watches just as much as men but found the need to wind one up a chore they would rather avoid, set about to develop the caliber 1210, a quartz movement with a motion detector that stopped the watch after 35 minutes of inactivity, but would jolt the watch back to life the moment you put it back on again. The hands will immediately move to display the correct time. This electro-mechanical system conserves energy to give the watch a battery life of 8 to 18 years depending if in daily use or in standby mode – far more than any quartz-powered watch in existence. Two versions are available, in 40mm x 35mm and in 48mm x 40mm, in an elegant tortue shape. At SIHH 2018, the watches came in a range of case materials and a wide selection of colors and a variety of diamond placement.
Onwards to SIHH 2019, here’s what we’re looking forward to from the brilliant watchmaker. Earlier in January, F.P. Journe announced that it will be discontinuing the Sonnerie Souveraine, a much-lauded timepiece and the manufacture’s most complicated to date – in order to make way for something more incredible: a brand new grand complication. More news to come in 2019!