F. P. Journe
Tourbillon Souverain | brass movement | rose gold
This F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain is one of the first seventy tourbillons ever made and sold by the watchmaker, dating back to 2000. Housed in an elusive rose gold case, it features a range of distinctive characteristics, only found on the earliest of examples, from the mirror-like white gold dial to the characterful two-tone subdial.
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.
An early Tourbillon Souverain
The Tourbillon Souverain was the very first production wristwatch from Montres Journe, originally made between 1999 and 2003. Produced in 2000, this piece was one of the first seventy Tourbillon Souverains made and sold by the manufacture, as evidenced by the "06X/00T" serial number engraved on the caseback. As such, it reveals physical characteristics only found on the earliest pieces. This example falls within the third generation of the Tourbillon Souverain, of which only 24 to 44 examples were produced.
In 2004, F.P. Journe began manufacturing movements from rose gold, having developed the brand sufficiently to further the manufacturing process. Interestingly, it is the manufacture's earlier brass-movement pieces that command more interest from collectors, representing the watchmaker's first brushstrokes.
The rose gold case
Early F.P. Journe watches are traditionally housed in a platinum case, with very few rose gold examples ever produced. Having chosen platinum for his first prototypes and the Souscription Tourbillons, it is believed that Journe himself preferred the white metal, with several of his early clients also favouring its versatility.
As such, few rose gold cases have ever left the manufacture. In fact, it is estimated that less than 40 brass movement Tourbillon Souverains were produced with a rose gold case and white gold dial. First sold to Portugal in 2001, this example features Portuguese import hallmarks on the top left lug, another unusual characteristic of this piece.
The engravings on the caseback are noticeably shallower than those found on later examples, having been applied by hand - a feature also found on the Souscription Tourbillon. Only the earliest Tourbillon Souverains are believed to feature this distinctive style. Shortly thereafter, Journe transitioned to using a laser to apply these, which results in deeper and more consistent engravings.
The white gold dial is wonderfully textured and displays a separate silver guilloché sub-dial for the hours and minutes. The dial layout reinforces this artisanal spirit, with exposed screws and stark, contrasting surfaces. This aesthetic was honed by Francois-Paul Journe during the creation of the prototypes building up to the Souscription, which had the sub-dials screwed directly onto the base plate of the movement, made of traditional gold-plated brass. At twelve o’clock, a power reserve indicator of 42 hours is displayed.
With a striking, mirror-like reflective surface and textured finish, this example exhibits an intensity only found on the earliest models. More noticeably, these early dials also feature a layer of clear lacquer, giving them a distinctively shinier surface, along with the impression that the text on the dial floats above it. Furthermore, this example also displays a characterful two-tone subdial, with a silver outer minute track and subtle, off-white guilloché pattern in the centre.
The one-second remontoir d'egalité system is displayed through a small aperture on the dial side, providing constant force to the escapement, by acting as a transmission and balancing system for the transfer of power between the mainspring and the escapement.
The manual-winding, F.P. Journe caliber 1498 tourbillon movement is rhodium-plated brass, with Côtes de Genève, constructed with 25 jewels and a shock-absorber mechanism. It further features a straight-line lever escapement, and monometallic 4-arm balance with 4 timing weights, adjusted to 5 positions. It includes a self-compensating free-sprung flat balance spring. The movement is engraved 'Chronometre A Tourbillon' and 'Remontoir d'egalité'.
The watch comes on our Stockholm grey leather straps (measuring 20 x 19mm). Having been first sold to Portugal in 2001, this Tourbillon Souverain was then subsequently sold to its second and current owner through the F.P. Journe Patrimoine Service in May 2018.
It is accompanied by an F.P. Journe outer box, inner wooden box, warranty card (subsequently stamped in 2018), cleaning cloth, instruction booklet, teal pouch and USB key. It also comes with a Patrimonie Service Certificate of Origin and F.P. Journe servicing invoice from 2018.
To find out more about François-Paul Journe and his early pieces, you can read our Collector's Guide to early F.P. Journe.
|Brand:||F. P. Journe|
|Movement:||mechanical manual-winding brass movement calibre 1498 with one-second remontoir d'egalité|
|Functions:||tourbillon, hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Features:||rose gold case, mirror-like white gold dial, two-tone sub-dial, display-back, power-reserve display|
|Case:||38 mm rose gold|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and display-back|
|Strap:||Stockholm grey leather straps, F.P. Journe alligator strap with rose gold tang buckle|
|Year of production:||2000|
|Box & papers:||outer box, inner wooden box, warranty card (subsequently stamped in 2018), cleaning cloth, instruction booklet, teal pouch, USB key, Certificate of Origin from Patrimoine Service, servicing paperwork|
This Tourbillon Souverain is in excellent overall, with some light marks throughout, consistent with wear. The white gold dial is extremely well preserved, displaying an important level of intensity and reflection, most commonly associated with the earliest pieces from the watchmaker. Having been serviced by F.P. Journe in 2018, it keeps excellent time and all the functions are working as expected. It's guaranteed for authenticity and comes with a two-year warranty from A Collected Man.
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