Where to begin with F.P. Journe. Started by the man himself in 1999, Journe had previously spent quite a few years restoring and producing movements and also made a couple of pocket watches during that time. It took quite a few years before his brand went from something only a hardcore collector could appreciate to being appreciated by a more mainstream audience and today, he is considered by many as one of the most successful and important independent brands to have emerged.
In my opinion, F.P. Journe has hit the sweet spot, producing around 900 pieces a year only. This ensures that they are exclusive enough that people consider any Journe a rare piece, but not so rare that it becomes esoteric. There are brands like Roger Smith and Philippe Dufour, both who are considered godfathers of high horology, but they make so few pieces a year that the average watch collector would not know about them. Mention F.P. Journe though, and you’ll have collectors jumping with joy.
With the Resonance, one really has to begin with the movement and the whole concept behind the watch. Powered by the in-house Calibre 1499.2, the idea of resonance was something that intrigued Francois-Paul Journe for a long time. Failing to create a successful movement that incorporated resonance in the ’80s, it took nearly two decades for Journe to finally be happy with a finished product and that very product is the watch you see here today. In fact, the Chronometre a Resonance has been in production since the Year 2000, and this year (2019) marks the final year for this calibre.
Briefly explaining, mechanical resonance is a physical principle where two oscillating balance wheels in a single movement sync up, improving stability and timekeeping via energy transference through vibrating sound waves from the wheels in motion. Though this might sound very complicated, it is a very romantic idea and something that certainly appeals to watch collectors. It is for this very reason that the F.P. Journe Resonance has become the most iconic wristwatch from the man himself.
This particular F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance is no ordinary Journe. While any F.P. Journe is special in its own right, and especially the Resonance in any form, this is the Black Label Edition and it is reserved exclusively for purchase by existing F.P. Journe clients only. Considering the man only makes around 900 pieces a year, a very small amount are only Black Label pieces. In fact, each boutique (10 in the world) only gets a maximum of 2 pieces of each Black Label model a year and considering this Resonance has been discontinued.
What distinguishes this piece from your regular Journe is of course in the name, all Black Label pieces take on a monochromatic colour palette. Beginning with a 40mm platinum case, it is interesting to note that Journe only uses platinum for his precious white metal watches, so you won’t find any in white gold. The main differentiating factor of this edition is the deep black glossy dial. Two clocks are displayed on the dial, with the left side hidden in a rotating aperture and the right one displaying the more traditional F.P. Journe layout. A crown at 4 o’clock acts as a resetting tool for the two sub-seconds, where pulling it out resets and hacks the seconds and syncs them in the process while the crown at 12 o’clock is used for setting the time and winding the watch.
F.P. Journe has carved a very interesting niche in the independent watch world where he has managed to blend traditional watchmaking and design cues with modern technology and an unmistakably Journe aesthetic. Despite using very traditional elements like his serif’d Arabic numerals, a knurled winding crown and a standard round case, the way it has been laid out combines to create a look that is F.P. Journe through and through.
The purists really love Journe because of his motto ‘Invenit et Fecit’, which translates from Latin to Invent and Create. To this day, F.P. Journe has stuck to this mantra, where he continues to invent his own in-house movements. Furthremore, everything else is also in-house, even to the point of owning his own case-maker and dial-maker. For a small brand that makes less than 1000 pieces a year, it is really impressive.