F. P. Journe
Pre-Souscription Chronomètre à Résonance | 38mm platinum
F. P. Journe
Pre-Souscription Chronomètre à Résonance | 38mm platinum
This F.P. Journe “Pre-Souscription” Chronomètre à Résonance is one of the earliest Résonance watches produced by the watchmaker, believed to be one of the first 25 pieces to ever leave the manufacture. Made prior to the Souscription Résonance watches, it features a range of distinctive features from the two-tone sub-dials to the hand-applied shallow engravings on the caseback, with the intensity and character of this piece is particularly noteworthy.
Making a name for himself
Prior to launching his own brand, Francois-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 writings of Dr. George Daniels, as well as a handful of prototype wristwatches integrating a tourbillon and remontoir d’égalité systems. However, Monsieur 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 have put the money forward for a watch that was yet to be made. In exchange for this good faith, they would receive a 50% reduction on its retail value, allowing the watchmaker 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.
The early works of the watchmaker reflect upon these experiences - and his mastery is evident in both the look and feel of his craftsmanship. They effortlessly blend his intimate knowledge of the mechanics that he gained through restoring 18th and 19th century marine chronometers and pocket watches, with modern haute horology's finesse.
The “Pre-Souscription” Résonance
With the prototypes displayed at his first Basel Fair in 1999, the Chronomètre à Résonance followed shortly after the initial Tourbillon. As a gesture to thank his first clients for their 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.
However, despite being numbered 1 to 20, these were not the first Résonance pieces made by the watchmaker. (In fact, throughout Journe’s work, case numbers are not necessarily reflective of the order in which the watches were produced.) While Journe reserved the first twenty numbers for the Souscription Résonances, some pieces were actually produced prior to these. They have come to be referred to by collectors as the “Pre-Souscription” Résonances.
Bearing a serial number below 45, this particular example is therefore one of the first twenty-five Chronomètre à Résonance watches ever made and sold. It presents a range of distinctive features, from the early two-tone subdials to the shallow engraving applied by hand on the caseback (as opposed to the deeper engravings applied by laser on later examples, including the Souscription Résonance watches). It is believed that around 40 to 50 Résonances with shallow engravings are in existence, which pre-date the Souscription pieces.
The Chronomètre à Résonance
The Chronomètre à Résonance is made using 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 tick-tock 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 “Pre-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 M. 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 twelve o’clock, a power reserve indicator of 42 hours is displayed, with a thinner font used for the numerals than those 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, reflection 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 “Pre-Souscription” Résonance’s serial number, in the 0XX/00R format. The engravings are noticeably shallower than those found on later examples, having been applied by hand - a feature also found on the Souscription Tourbillon. Only the first 40 to 50 Résonance watches are believed to feature this distinctive style. Shortly thereafter, Journe transitioned to using a laser to apply these, which results in deeper and more consistent engravings.
This F.P. Journe “Pre-Souscription” Chronomètre à Résonance comes with an original F.P. Journe, alligator strap, a Geneva nubuck leather strap with curved ends (measuring 20 x 19mm) and corresponding platinum F.P. Journe tang buckle. It is also accompanied by its original F.P. Journe outer box, inner wooden box, manual and Certificate of Origin.
The F.P. Journe manufacture has confirmed that this watch was produced for the American market in December, 2000. A condition video is available here.
As an important piece in the history of the brand and a testament to the watchmaker behind it, we feel fortunate to be able to present this piece, together with the early Tourbillon Souverain and to play a role in sharing their 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 with twin independent movements|
|Functions:||dual hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Features:||shimmery gold dial, guilloché hours/mins sub-dial, blue steel hands, display-back, power-reserve display|
|Case:||38 mm platinum|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and display-back|
|Strap:||Geneva nubuck leather strap, F. P Journe alligator strap with platinum buckle|
|Box & papers:||outer box, inner wooden box, manual and Certificate of Origin|
This Souscription Résonance is in good condition overall, with some light marks throughout, consistent with wear. The yellow gold dial is extremely well preserved, displaying an important level of intensity, reflection and shimmer, most commonly associated with the earliest pieces from the watchmaker. It also shows relatively consistent oxidisation throughout, with a soft, warm hue.
Some slight marks are visible on the sub-dials, resulting from the finishing technique used to achieve the two-tone effect. The caseback displays some sign of wear throughout (with a deeper mark visible close to the second “E” of “RESONANCE”). F.P. Journe has confirmed that the watch was last serviced in 2014, at the manufacture in Geneva, with a slight polish given at the Paris boutique in 2016.
Though it is keeping perfect time and all the functions work properly, since the watch hasn’t been serviced in over 5 years, it is offered with a complimentary service from F.P. Journe, organised through the Paris boutique. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee for authenticity from A Collected Man.
Please note, owing to the value of this watch, payment may only be by bank transfer and returns will not be accepted. This is an express deviation from out standard return policy below and as found in our terms and conditions. Shipment will be with Ferrari Express.
Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, in-person viewings have been suspended, but should you require further images or video inspection over zoom, we would be happy to facilitate this.
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