The Ruthenium Collection
In 2001, two years after establishing his eponymous brand, François-Paul Journe selected five watches from the latter part of his brass movement production and gave them a special treatment. All the dials and brass movement plates were coated in ruthenium, a rare inert metal belonging to the platinum family. Due to its extreme hardness and greater insensitivity to oxidation, it is often used in electronics or aerospace engineering, though rarely ever included in watches.
All of the pieces from the collection were housed in a 40mm platinum case, which was larger than the usual 38mm size of the time, further setting these apart. In fact, with the exception of the Octa Zodiaque, these are amongst the very few 40mm brass movement watches in existence, which makes them all the more unusual.
Limited to 99 pieces for each model, the Ruthenium Collection includes the Tourbillon Souverain, the Chronomètre à Resonance, the Octa Chronographe, the Octa Calendrier and the Octa Réserve de Marche Jour et Nuit. In total, 495 Ruthenium Collection pieces are understood to have been produced. This piece further distinguishes itself for being the first Octa Calendrier from the collection, as confirmed by the distinctive "01/99" number on the caseback.
This Octa Calendrier is made distinctive by its ruthenium coated dial. It features the grainy texture and shimmer which has come to be associated with the watchmaker's earliest piece, while at the same time offering the depth of a darker colour-tone, which is broadly absent from the F.P. Journe production. Ruthenium has a complex colour, which varies depending on the angle and intensity of the light. As a result, the dial can go anywhere from a dark, charcoal colour to a lighter, smoke grey.
The Octa Calendrier is an annual calendar, meaning that it only requires adjustment once a year, in February, as it accounts for the long and short months throughout the year. The different elements of the date are displayed in an innovative way, which speaks to the watchmaker's inventiveness. The date is displayed on an arc which extends around the circumference of the dial, with a blued hand pointing to the correct date. Meanwhile, the day and month are shown through two apertures on the left hand side, which feature a grey background and white text, seamlessly blending into the rest of the design.
Meanwhile, the hours and minutes are displayed to the right side, in a silvery subdial, another feature which distinguishes this as one of the earliest pieces from F.P. Journe. The dial layout builds on the asymmetrical aesthetic first cement by the Octa Réserve de Marche, whilst taking this further still. The words "Invenit et Fecit" are inscribed between the two apertures, underneath the watchmakers name (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.
The self-winding F.P. Journe caliber 1300 movement is made from rhodium-plated brass, save for the bi-directional rotor in 22k rose gold. This is a logical choice for many watchmakers, for a rotor with a high karat gold count has a significantly higher mass than other materials such as brass or stainless steel.
It features Côtes de Genève embellishments, and a shock absorber mechanism. It also integrates a straight-line lever escapement, and monometallic 4-arm balance with 4 timing weights, adjusted to 5 positions. The movement is engraved "Exclusive Power Reserve System" and "Precision Chronometer".
The development of the movement was a prolonged process, with the main task being refining the mainspring to a point where it gave consistent power to the gear train, for as large a proportion of its unwinding as possible. Together with a specialist spring maker, Journe finally settled on a design that was a metre long and 1mm thick. This caliber 1300 also integrates a power reserve of 120 hours.
This Octa Calendrier from the Ruthenium Collection was sold through the F.P. Journe Patrimoine Service in 2019, having been serviced by the brand at the same time. It is accompanied by its Certificate (dated May 2019), signed by the watchmaker, as well as a newer F.P. Journe outer box and inner box.
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