The Dawn of Montres Journe
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 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 Birth of the Octa
The Octa Réserve de Marche was the first automatic movement developed and produced by François-Paul Journe. The watchmaker aspired to do was create a base calibre that could hold all kinds of complications, without gaining a fraction of a millimetre in thickness or width. He achieved in doing so, hence why all the movements in the Octa line, from the Octa Chronographe to the Octa Calendrier, all share the same dimensions, no matter what complication they hold. That base caliber birthed a whole collection of complicated watches, which endure to this day.
The first step in this journey was the Octa Réserve de Marche, introduced in 2001. Only two years after establishing his own eponymous brand, this was the third watch released by François-Paul Journe, following the Tourbillon Souverain and the Chronomètre à Résonance. Combined, these three models represent the watchmaker's earliest brushstrokes and the foundation for the brand he would build over the following decades.
An transitional example
Between 2001 and 2003, it is estimated that F.P. Journe produced between 459 and 530 Octa Réserve de Marche watches with brass movements, before transitioning to solid gold movements. This change is understood to have occurred in 2004, once the brand was sufficiently developed to further their manufacturing processes and move away from brass.
With this introduction, all existing movements were issued with new caliber codes. In the case of the Octa Series, this caliber was referred to as 1300-2, indicating the second version of the movement. It’s believed that very few 1300-2 movements were made, during a short transitional period. Consequently, it makes these rarer than many of the first generation brass-movement pieces. You can read more about this in The Journe Guy’s in-depth study.
The Octa Réserve de Marche builds on the aesthetic cues cemented by the Tourbillon Souverain and the Chronomètre à Résonance. The dial design integrates a masterful use of asymmetry and empty space, achieving a layout that is both refined and legible. Though the dials of the Octa Réserve de Marche series show very little alteration throughout the rose gold movement period, some earlier examples still retain the two-tone silvery sub-dial - a feature which is typically only found on Journe's earliest wristwatches .
The asymmetric dial is delicately textured, with a separate silver guilloché dial for the hours and minutes. The words "Invenit et Fecit" are inscribed below the power reserve - 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 nine o’clock, a power reserve indicator of 120 hours is also shown. The classic 38mm case is another reminder of this being one of the watchmaker's earlier pieces.
The self-winding F.P. Journe caliber 1300-2 movement is made from solid rose gold, including the bi-directional rotor in 22K rose gold. The bi-directional winding rotor was later changed in subsequent calibres, in favour of uni-directional winding, making it a feature of only the early brass and rose gold movement pieces .
It features Côtes de Genève embellishments, constructed with 32 jewels 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 1300-2 also integrates a power reserve of 120 hours.
This 38mm F.P. Journe Octa Réserve de Marche is accompanied by its original outer box and inner wooden box. It also comes with its warranty card, which is stamped by William & Son, London and dated March 2007. It comes on one of our bespoke taupe saffiano straps (with curved ends), along with an F.P. Journe black alligator strap and platinum buckle.
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