The Chronomètre Souverain
One of the brand's most pared back pieces, this precision chronometer is inspired by the marine chronometers of the early 20th century. The Chronomètre Souverain speaks to Journe's long-standing commitment to accuracy and restrained design.
According to Pierre Halimi, the current General Manager for the brand in North America, Journe wanted the Chronomètre Souverain to be the very first watch he would launch in 1999, after establishing his eponymous brand. However, he was shrewd enough to realise that he needed to prove his worth as a watchmaker, before he could pursue a passion project such as this. A few years later, having cemented his reputation, the Chronomètre Souverain became a reality.
In 2005, the Chronomètre Souverain won the Favourite Men’s Watch award at the GPHG, or Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the most prestigious award ceremony in the watch industry. Since then, it has established itself as one of the brand's most popular models, with only a handful of limited pieces being produced, alongside a small number of custom requests from existing clients.
The dial forgoes Journe's traditional Clous de Paris pattern, instead displaying a fine, granular texture on the surface of the solid gold base. The appliqué Arabic numerals are polished with a diamond tool, creating a mirror-like finish, forming an excellent contrast against the grainy dial. A five-layer pad printing technique is used to transfer the time indications and classic F.P Journe logo, further complementing the silvered, opaline appearance.
The signature F.P. Journe style hands are rose, in uniformity with the hour markers and helping with legibility. Between 7 and 8 o’clock is a subsidiary seconds and at 3 o’clock is a power reserve indicator which states a power reserve of 56 hours.
An interesting aspect of this timepiece lies in the power reserve, as when winding, instead of the indicator heading from 0 to 56, it goes the other way, towards 0. This was a deliberate choice from François-Paul Journe who borrowed the feature from marine chronometer clocks. The reasoning behind this lies in the idea that the power reserve indicator on this Chronomètre Souverain is not meant to tell you how many hours there are left, but instead how many hours have elapsed since you wound the watch.
The distinctive dial is combined with a 38mm F.P. Journe case in rose gold, which was custom ordered by special request, with the case size since no longer in production. With all the original F.P. Journe models, from the Tourbillon Souverain to the Chronomètre à Résonance, having first been released in this size, it holds a special place in the brand's history.
While this piece is undeniably attractive, it is the movement that F.P. Journe is famed for. Part of the manual-winding Souverain collection, it captures the spirit of independent haute horlogerie at its finest, with the in-house calibre 1304 being made entirely of 18k rose gold. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the movement has two mainspring barrels in parallel, which work together, powering the movement.
Most impressively, is the chronometric balance fitted into the movement, which helps to provide the accuracy that F.P. Journe has based his watchmaking around. The watchmaker himself explains it as such, "chronometry was invented by the 18th century English and French watchmakers, when their respective governments organised a competition that would reward the first watchmaker capable of making a timekeeper that could be carried on board a ship."
The hand finishing is expertly conducted, mixing a combination of circular graining with sunburst and wave patterns. All screw heads are polished and all edges neatly chamfered with a Côte de Genève motif on the bridges.
This F.P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain comes with its original F.P. Journe boxes and guarantee card. It comes fitted to one of our Paris straps with curved-ends, and includes the original F.P. Journe alligator strap and rose gold pin buckle.