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 George Daniels, as well as a handful of prototype wristwatches integrating a tourbillon and remontoir d’égalité systems. However, 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% 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 Chronomètre Bleu
Named after the mythological figure, Tantalus, this name of this metal also has roots in the word "tantalising", as the story goes that Tantalus was forced to stand knee-deep in water, while delicious-looking fruit grew above his head. Both would recede out of his reach when he attempted to drink the water or eat the fruit. A dark greyish blue in colour, tantalum is a rare, lustrous metal that is highly resistant to corrosion. Rarely used in watchmaking due to its difficulty to work with, tantalum is highly resistant to both corrosion and wear. It's also non-allergenic, and so perfectly suited to be worn on the wrist.
The polished dial of this Chronomètre Bleu is an uncommon feature, displaying a shade of sky-blue that complements the restrained colour of tantalum. Combined together, these blue overtones give the watch its name. Meanwhile, the signature Journe-style hands are rendered in off-white and contrast with the polished dial, to improve legibility.
The outer railroad track that circles the dial holds embossed decorative Arabic numerals, also off-white in colour, which vary in size dependent on their location on the dial. Between 7 and 8 o’clock is an engine-turned subsidiary seconds, as seen in the Chronomètre Souverain, though the Chronomètre Bleu goes without a power-reserve indication. Overall, the dial layout is cleanly designed and highly legible.
The calibre 1304 is made in-house, and entirely of 18-carat rose-gold, seen 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 hand finishing is expertly conducted, mixing Côte de Genève, circular graining and barleycorn guilloché. All screw heads are polished and all edges neatly chamfered.
This Chronomètre Bleu comes with its original wooden box and manual, in addition to a stamped warranty card that states the date of purchase was in 2011. It is also accompanied by our curved, 20x19mm Zürich strap in taupe grained leather, along with the corresponding tantalum tang buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this F.P. Journe Chronomètre Bleu will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.