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. Some 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.
On offer here today is an F.P Journe Chronomètre Souverain in a 40mm case crafted out of 18-carat rose gold. Initially introduced in 2005, the Chronomètre Souverain impressively won that year’s ‘Favourite Men’s Watch’ award at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). Quintessentially Journe-like, the Chronomètre Souverain has become the bedrock from which all other Journe models are built.
Undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable attributes of the Chronomètre Souverain is its exquisite whitened silver dial, exuding a subtle warmth that harmoniously complements the resplendent 18-carat rose gold case. Embracing the dial is a black seconds track encircling its periphery, 18-carat 5N gold appliqué numerals, and a set of gleaming matching gold hands. Needless to say, the Chronomètre Souverain's dial exhibits an artful blend of functionality and aesthetics, made apparent by the presence of a sub-seconds dial nestled just between the 7 and 8 o'clock position and a 56-hour power reserve indicator at 3 o'clock. This clever asymmetrical arrangement bestows exceptional legibility while seamlessly incorporating François-Paul Journe's distinctive design choices, for which the brand is now renowned.
In addition to its beautiful and attractive dial, the Chronomètre Souverain also boasts an enchanting surprise concealed from within. Turn the watch over on its back and you will find the exquisite in-house Cal. 1304 revealed through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. This meticulously crafted calibre, as inspired by early 19th-century marine chronometry, is entirely fashioned from 18-carat rose gold, and features two mainspring barrels working in perfect harmony to provide a robust 56-hour power reserve capacity. Gorgeously constructed and in plain sight thanks to it being manually wound, the Cal. 1304 also presents the same visual delight from the rear of the Chronomètre Souverain as the dial does from the front, featuring a mesmerizing blend of sunburst, circular graining, wave patterns, and Côte de Genève, while meticulously polished screw heads and precisely chamfered edges adorn the bridges.
When dealing with any F.P. Journe timepiece, it requires some effort and distinction to fully appreciate and comprehend the design nuances the brand brings to the table, but when you do, you will come to understand why F.P. Journe is so loved by watch enthusiasts/collectors all around the world. F.P. Journe’s motto ‘Invenit et Fecit’, which translates from Latin to ‘Invent and Create’, speaks volumes about his horological works of art. For a small independent brand that makes less than 1,000 pieces a year, I tip my hat off to F.P. Journe.