F. P. Journe
Souscription Résonance | platinum
XX / 20
This rare and important F.P. Journe “Souscription” Chronomètre à Résonance is one of the first twenty Résonance wristwatches offered by François-Paul Journe to his clients. These pieces, each individually numbered on the back from 1 to 20, were initially offered to the same friends and clients who purchased the twenty Souscription Tourbillons.
These tourbillons - the first wristwatches made and sold by Journe under his own name - were produced by the watchmaker in order to raise the resources needed to launch his own brand in 1999. Releasing the Chronomètre à Résonance shortly thereafter, François-Paul thanked his earliest supporters by offering each Souscription Tourbillon owner the opportunity to reserve a Souscription Résonance with a matching number. This example bears one of the first ten numbers found on any Résonance.
The Story of the Souscription
Prior to launching his own brand, François-Paul Journe had already proven his skill as a talented watchmaker. Having spent time restoring clocks and pocket watches from the likes of Janvier and Breguet, he had also completed complex commissions for Asprey and Cartier, among others. In his own time, the young watchmaker had also already assembled a pocket watch integrating a tourbillon, by following the writing of George Daniels, as well as a handful of prototype wristwatches integrating a tourbillon and remontoir d’égalité. However, F.P. Journe had not yet established his own brand, lacking the capital to do so.
One day, while out to lunch, his friend Camille Berthet suggested a subscription model. The idea was simple. A few trusting clients would put the money forward for a watch that was yet to be made. In exchange for this good faith, they would receive a 50% discount on its retail value, allowing Journe to raise just enough money to start the production of pieces under his own eponymous brand. The project behind the Souscription Tourbillon was born, with twenty close clients and friends of the watchmaker committing a deposit, sight unseen. These early wristwatches became the foundation of the F.P. Journe manufacture we know today.
With the first prototypes displayed at his first Basel Fair in 1999, the Chronomètre à Résonance followed shortly thereafter. As a gesture to thank his clients for their early support, those who purchased the Souscription Tourbillons were also offered the chance to buy a Souscription Résonance, with a matching number engraved on the rear. This is an example of one of the first ten of those pieces, as indicated by the number engraved on the caseback.
THE CHRONOMÈTRE À RÉSONANCE
The Chronomètre à Résonance movement is comprised of two balance wheels, inspired by a natural phenomenon called resonance. The complication is explained by François-Paul thusly;
“In a watch, never mind which, there is energy which dissipates. When you listen to a watch, the tic-tac of the balance is dissipating energy. In a resonance chronometer, there are two balance wheels which are placed sufficiently close to one another, and the dissipated energy of each is caught by the other, leading to a unique type of frequency regulation.”
The discovery is said to have been made in 1665, by Dutch mathematician Christiaan Hygens, who reported that two pendulum clocks, hanging from the same mounting beam, would beat in such perfect duplicity, that the sound of the escapements were indistinguishable from one another. The concept was later researched and developed by Antide Janvier, to be refined by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Early sceptics suggested that air-resistance played a role, however, extensive testing by Breguet (the first to test a dual-train resonance watch with a double-balance system, placing rings around the balance wheels, to negate the effects of air), and more recently by François-Paul, proved this to be untrue.
Whilst the concept was long established, the term ‘resonance’ was in fact coined by Monsieur Journe himself, likening the phenomenon to that of a stringed musical instrument, which resonates. Initially, unsuccessfully attempted in a pocket watch in 1983, Journe was able to hone the phenomenon of acoustic resonance in a wristwatch some fifteen years later, with the prototypes displayed at the Basel Fair in 1999. Ever since, the model has gained a cult status among collectors. As Rexhep Rexhepi, an independent watchmaker who previously worked for Journe, put it, “When I think of François-Paul Journe, I think of the Resonance.”
A FOUNDATIONAL DESIGN
The design of this Souscription Résonance has come to define the visual aesthetic of all Résonance wristwatches from the manufacture to this very day. It demonstrates a whole range of hand-made details, which lend a sense of craftsmanship and charm to this early piece. Indeed, the dial layout reinforces this artisanal spirit, with exposed screws and stark, contrasting surfaces. This aesthetic was honed by François-Paul Journe during the creation of his early prototype wristwatches, which had the sub-dials screwed directly onto the base plate of the movement, made of traditional gold-plated brass.
The yellow gold dial is wonderfully textured and displays two separate silver guilloché dials for the hours and minutes (the two opposing dials capable of displaying multiple time zones). The words ‘Invenit et Fecit’ are inscribed below the two subsidiary seconds (Latin for ‘Invented and Made’ or more literally 'Designed and built by F.P. Journe') in classic F.P Journe style - a nod to signing conventions of a century ago. At 12 o’clock, a power reserve indicator of 42 hours is displayed, with a thinner font used for the numerals than is found on later models.
The intensity and shimmer of the dials gradually diminish throughout the lifespan of the Résonance. As with the tourbillon, the production process and lacquer on the dial was progressively upgraded, resulting in dials that didn’t oxidise. As is to be expected, this particular example shows a rather remarkable level of intensity and shimmer. It also features early two-tone subdials, where the minute and hour track is silver and the guilloché pattern in the middle is a crisp white colour, which lends further contrast to the design.
The watch is housed in a 38mm platinum case, integrating F.P. Journe’s signature 'flat crown’ with a rope-like pattern. The serial number on the back correctly displays the Souscription Résonance’s serial number, in the 0XX/00R format.
This manual-winding, F.P. Journe calibre 1499 movement is rhodium-plated brass, with Côtes de Genève, constructed with 36 jewels. It features a resonance-controlled, twin independent gear-train, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic 4-arm balance with 4 timing weights, self-compensating free-sprung flat balance spring, oscillating at a rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Further to this, a winding crown at 12 o’clock adjusts both time-zones, with a crown at 4 o’clock to synchronise the seconds’ hands.
This F.P. Journe “Souscription” Chronomètre à Résonance comes with an original F.P Journe, alligator strap, a bespoke Geneva nubuck leather strap with curved ends (measuring 20 x 19mm) and corresponding platinum F.P. Journe tang buckle. It's also accompanied by its original F.P. Journe outer box, inner wooden box and Certificate of Origin.
An important piece in the history of the brand and the man himself, we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to handle this piece and play a role in sharing its story.
To find out more about François-Paul Journe and his early pieces, you can read our Collector's Guide to early F.P. Journe.
|Brand:||F. P. Journe|
|Model:||Souscription Chronomètre à Résonance|
|Movement:||mechanical manual-winding calibre 1499|
|Functions:||dual hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Features:||twin independent movement, guilloché hours/mins, display-back, power-reserve display|
|Case:||38 mm platinum|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and display-back|
|Strap:||bespoke Geneva nubuck leather strap, F. P Journe alligator strap with platinum buckle|
|Box & papers:||outer box, inner wooden box and Certificate of Origin|
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