Regarded as one of the hottest horological prospects in the world right now, it is immensely impressive that F.P. Journe has only been around for the length of time that it has. Founded in 1999, F.P. Journe burst onto the watchmaking scene with a 20 piece limited run of Tourbillon Souverain Souscription watches that cash-strapped Francois Paul used to finance his brand, just like Abraham Louis Breguet did over 200 years ago. 20 odd years later, however, the F.P. Journe brand has become a horological powerhouse with waiting lists growing ever-longer and auction results growing ever more impressive.
Here, I have an early 38mm yellow gold F.P Journe Chronomètre Souverain offered in spectacular condition. Introduced in 2005, the Souverain impressively won that year’s ‘Favourite Men’s Watch’ award at the GPHG. Quintessentially Journe-like, the Souverain has become the bedrock from which all other Journe models are built.
One of the most incredible aspects of this Chronomètre Souverain is without a doubt its white dial. Featuring a hobnail, Clous de Paris pattern in its center, the dial plays with light in a gorgeously enticing way. Framing the dial is a black seconds track along its periphery that, in conjunction with the black Breguet numerals, contrasts the blued steel hands nicely. Thanks to a sub-seconds dial found between 7 and 8 o’clock and a 56-hour power-reserve indicator at 3 o'clock, the Souverain has a highly-legible asymmetrical dial which combines utilitarianism with the aesthetical Journe design choices for which the brand is now famed.
Aside from the dial, the Chronomètre Souverain also has another trick up its sleeve. On display through the sapphire crystal caseback is the impressive in-house cal. 1304. Made entirely of 18k rose gold, the cal. 1304 has two mainspring barrels that work in parallel to power the movement over the course of its 56-hour power reserve. Gorgeously constructed and in plain sight thanks to it being manually wound, the cal. 1304 presents the same visual delight from the rear of the Souverain as the dial does from the front.
What makes this particular example even more special is the fact that it comes sized at 38mm. While today’s Journes are all 40mm or 42mm, early F.P. Journes were sized at 38mm and have now been long discontinued. Collectors in general prefer the old 38mm sizing due to its rarity and also its overall proportionality. Overall, the Chronometre Souverain just might be the perfect discreet dress watch, with all of the craftsmanship and finishing one would want.