Francois-Paul Journe can only be admired for the ingenuity and refinement with which he designs his watches. Part of the reason why his early pieces have gained such fervent enthusiasm from collectors is that they truly allow you to observe the gradual evolution of the brand. The proximity with the man, and what he was attempting to create, is tangible. It can be caught on a caseback engraving or glimpsed at from the finishing on a dial.
Having previously covered the story of F.P. Journe prior to establishing his own brand, within the context of our three-part series, we now move onto our Collectors’ Guide, to the first three watches that F.P. Journe produced. Breaking down the Tourbillon Souverain, Chronomètre à Résonance and Octa Réserve de Marche, we attempt to highlight their key features and evolution from one generation to the next. We also hope to detail and quantify the different variations of each model, through our own experience handling these pieces, as well as insights provided by collectors and experts.
We chose to look at these three references, not only as they were the first to be introduced by the brand, but also because they embody specific goals that Francois-Paul was hoping to achieve in his early years. Focusing on brass movement models, before Journe eventually transitioned to gold, also felt appropriate. These are widely accepted as best representing the first period of the manufacture’s history, and to some in the collector community, the first brush strokes of the watchmaker.
Our attempt to put forward a guide to these early models is by no means exhaustive or complete. As new information emerges, we hope to keep this updated, so that it may act as a helpful reference point to budding and experienced collectors alike. It is also worth noting that while the information provided is as accurate as possible, exceptions and anomalies, which go against the indications set out below, do exist. With F.P. Journe still very much being an artisanal operation in the early days, consistency in production to the level of larger manufacturers should not be expected. In fact, from our point of view, it’s probably not even desirable.