A French Master

Angus Davies reviews the F. P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu, a watch with a gorgeous blue dial, created in the brand’s atelier in central Geneva. The products from this maison are wonderful exemplars of haute horlogerie.

 

F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu

 

I love the man who is Master of his craft. I’m no art connoisseur but I particularly appreciate the work of the great 17th Centuty Dutch Masters, especially Van Meer.

 

Intimacy, mood and luminosity were perfectly exemplified by Van Meer. He was from Delft and his work is admired for its sensitivity and the way he captures light.

 

In the world of watches there are masters also. F.P. Journe is one.

 

F. P. Journe

François-Paul Journe is a French master now based in a haven of horology, Geneva.

 

Journe is a Master Watchmaker of world renown. At the tender age of 20 he embarked on the ambitious project of making his first tourbillon pocket watch. A project incorporating one of the most complex complications, it was not for the faint-hearted. It took five years to complete the pieces, testament to his determination and patience.

 

F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu

 

Monsieur Journe has created beautiful watches for the last 34 years. His work stands comparison with marques who have been in existence since the 18th Century.

 

Van Meer signed and dated only one work in 1656, The Procuress. Journe signs all of his masterpieces with his name proudly displayed on the dial followed by his own label Invenit et Fecit, certifying that all his creations are entirely invented and made in the workshops of the Genevan Manufacture.

 

There is honour in the the use of his name as he ensures each watch is the responsibility of its watchmaker. They are responsible for its complete assembly. Moreover, they remain responsible for each watch they produce during its warranty period. This pride in one’s own work demonstrates the integrity of this assemblage of artisans.

 

Van Meer blended hues like blue, a noble colour, with perceptivity. F. P. Journe have created the Chronomètre Bleu with a wondrous shade worthy of any great artist.

F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu

Case

The case of the Chronomètre Bleu is constructed from Tantalum. This material offers a rare dark grey colour with blue overtones and provides superb resistance to corrosion and wear. However, it is not an obvious choice for a watch case due to the incredible difficulty in manipulating the material. This is because of its very high fusion temperature of 3800°C and a density of 16.6.

F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu

The challenge is obvious but the pursuit of beauty did not dissuade F.P. Journe.

 

Another subtle detail which I think is delightful is the crown. Look closely and it has a rope-like pattern running around its circumference. A knurled knob would have afforded grip, but the delicate details surpass the functional and offer aesthetic appeal to its fortunate wearer.

 

Dial

The dial is a wonderful blue, featuring cream coloured Arabic numerals and details. A chapter ring aids interpretation of the time.

 

A subsidiary seconds dial is located between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Examine this dial closely and you will see guilloché. The craftsmanship is omnipresent.

 

The F.P. Journe name sits proudly below 12 o’clock with the accompanying text; “Invenit et Fecit”, invented and made. This certifies that the “watch’s exclusive movement was designed, constructed and assembled solely in the workshops of the Geneva manufacture”.

 

The movement

F.P. Journe movements are manufacture calibres. They are of the highest quality and feature perlage and engraving typical of haute horology. However, they offer something unique, construction with 18-carat rose gold.

 

The calibre 1304 is manual wind, with 22 jewels. It has a power reserve of 56 hours.

 

I am grateful to F. P. Journe for including a sapphire back on this watch. As you gaze in wonderment at the movement, it is hard not to be hypnotised by the circular graining.

 

Alas, some of the finissage is hidden from view, but resides within the case as a matter of technical correctness. The partly circular grained base plate features barleycorn guilloché and the calibre has polished screw heads, chamfered slots and pegs with polished rounded ends. F. P. Journe takes its time to produce matchless miracles of horology.

 

Conclusion

In a relative short time, François-Paul Journe has become a supreme master of haute horology.

 

I believe his work would not be out of place in an art gallery, but I prefer to see his watches worn by fellow admirers of his work.

 

Monsieur Journe is a French Master, based in Geneva, creating modern classics, which deserve praise. I hope one day his work will be talked about in the context of the “Genevan Golden Age”.

 

Technical specification

  • Model: F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu
  • Reference: CB
  • Case: Tantalum; 39.00 mm diameter; height 8.60mm; sapphire crystal to both front and rear.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds.
  • Calibre: 18-carat rose gold; Frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); power reserve 56 hours; 22 jewels; 129 parts without dial.
  • Calibre Reference: 1304
  • Strap: Blue leather strap on pin buckle

Related Links