It was three years prior to the introduction of the Centigraphe Souverain, when François-Paul Journe expressed to Jean Todt (then executive director of Scuderia Ferrari), that “there was nothing serious enough in mechanical horology to time today’s racing cars to the 100th of a second”. It was in 2007 that the Centigraphe Souverain was presented, at which time François-Paul Journe credited Jean Todt for having inspired the concept to him.
This example, is one of few pieces from the Black Label series, created exclusively for existing F. P Journe clients. Only 12 pieces are received by each boutique per year, with just two pieces made available for each model in the collection.
Its 40mm platinum case is made particularly distinctive through a patented chronograph ‘rocker’, as opposed to the more traditional chronograph ‘pushers’. This, in addition to unique, opaline white hands, renders the piece, visually, quite unlike any other. The black lacquer dial is matte-finished in contrasting dark grey, with classic F.P Journe numerals. The signature handset is modified for this example to improve readability. This required the bespoke manufacture of white hour and minute hands.
The words ‘Invenit et Fecit’ are inscribed beside the subsidiary counter at 6 o’clock (Latin for “Invented and Made”) in classic F.P Journe style - a nod to signing conventions of a century ago. To the left of the dial, the 100th of a second-hand revolves around the sub-counter in one second, on a scale marked in hundredths of a second. The subsidiary-hand at 2 o’clock revolves once every twenty seconds, with the scale divided into each passing second. The third sub-dial, at the 6 o’clock position, is graduated for 10 minutes.
The tachymeter scale converts time units for 1 kilometre into speeds ranging from 6 km/h —walking pace — to 36,000 km/h, well above the escape velocity of a rocket going into low-level orbit. Each subsidiary dial displays the time scale in red and is marked at the centre ‘S’ or ‘M’ - ‘PR’, abbreviating ‘seconds’ or ‘minutes’, per revolution.
An intuitive feature of the 100th of a second counter is that it may be stopped anywhere along its one-second revolution around the dial, even between two 100th of a second divisions, enabling a fractional reading. This is achieved by vertically disengaging the pinion of the 100th of a second hand, from that of the escapement.
This manually-wound F.P. Journe caliber 1506 movement is manufactured entirely from 18k rose gold. It is constructed with 50 jewels, and features an in-line lever escapement, 15-tooth escape-wheel and free-sprung balance - adjustable on four inertia weights, with a self-compensating Anachron balance-spring. The barrel features a maintaining power system in order to ensure driving force does not decrease during winding. The mainspring supplies a minimum of 80 hours power reserve without the chronograph running, and 24 hours with operation.
Already a rare watch, as part of the “Black Label” series, this Centigraphe Souverain full set, becomes rarer yet. Add to this its customised white hands and it represents an exceptional opportunity to own an important watch from a fantastic watchmaker.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.