It can be said that François-Paul Journe is one of the most influential watchmakers of the modern era. Alongside a select few craftsmen, he has led the way in combining the inventiveness of late-18th century horology with the creativity that today’s technology affords us. He manages to bring classical style and his own distinct vision together, through brilliance in design and astute mechanical knowhow.
Yet he wasn’t born adjusting escapements or designing calibres. In fact, as many of you may know, he was a fairly rebellious child, so how did he end up as one of the world’s most respected watchmakers? His path to success certainly wasn’t linear. A reflection of his own unconventional journey, when we asked Francois-Paul Journe if he sought any advice in his early days, he simply responded with, “Yes, Jean-Claude Biver told me that in this job 2 + 2 = 6.”
In an attempt to better understand the man and his early work, we have put together a three-part series of articles: The Story, The Collectors’ Guide and The Outliers.
The first, this one, focuses on the story of Francois-Paul Journe up to the creation of his brand, from his time as a rebellious child to displaying his first watches at Baselworld. Indeed, to understand the brand today, you first have to look at Journe’s early life, from learning his trade at the Ecole d’horlogerie de Paris, to the time spent under the tutelage of his Uncle Michel. This led him to his first ventures into independence, completing commissions for the likes of Asprey of London and Cartier, eventually establishing his own brand with a unique fundraising technique.
The second part is a Collectors’ Guide to early F.P. Journe watches, covering in great detail the first three models released by the young brand: the Tourbillon Souverain, Chronomètre à Resonance and Octa Reserve de Marche. All originally produced with brass movements, we hope to offer some guidance to these early, foundation models. We will be separating each of them into the various generations that have been identified, and outlining the differences between them, from the shimmer of the dial, to the engravings on the caseback. We will also share rich and diverse imagery, assembled from the brand, collectors, auction houses and our own research, to offer a detailed, as well as visual, guide.
The third, and final, part will focus on the special editions, series and unique pieces produced in the first years of the brand. Having covered the story of the man and a guide to his early production pieces, it only felt right to cover the outliers which have emerged.
For this specific chapter, we especially like to thank Pierre Halimi, William Massena, Gino Cukrowicz, Osama Sendi (The Journe Guy), Rexhep Rexhepi, Felipe Jordão, and Michael Hickcox for their time and insights. With the above having been outlined, let us dive straight into the story of early F.P. Journe.