As we mentioned in our First Grail post earlier this week, F.P. Journe is celebrating a 30th anniversary, one that marks the occasion of his first watch (a pocket watch) having been completed. While 1983 is the starting point for the celebration, the journey to this first watch actually started five years earlier. The result is a new limited edition wristwatch called the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon timepiece.
Working in a shop owned by his uncle, Journe worked nights and weekends to create his first masterpiece. And this wasn’t just some simple three-hander. No, he had a love for antique tourbillons – so he decided to make his own. These days, that particular complication shows up all over the place. Thirty years ago, though, it was a much rarer beast – especially one that was made by hand.
Needless to say, that one-of-a-kind pocket watch was the first signed F.P. Journe, and kicked off the journey that brought us the eponymous watch company in 1991. To mark the occasion of thirty years having passed since the first watch came to fruition, F.P. Journe has created a new wristwatch, the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon.
While this watch is anything but a clone of the original, you can definitely see the lineage of the original piece showing up in the new model. For starters, take a look at the sublime dial. It carries the identical layout of the original pocket watch, with the hours and minutes marked out on the upper dial, and a rather large “sub” dial marking the passage of the seconds. This unusual layout allows plenty of room for the understated branding at 4 and 8 o’clock.
The next, and very fun bit of inspiration comes with the case back. The movement is hiding behind that lovely textured case back, which flips open – just like the cover of a pocket watch would “hunter style.” Totally unexpected, and completely appropriate for where this watch is coming from. Simply put, I love it. And then, once you have the case back flipped open, you can see that movement. The best part is the guilloche machine engraved case elements which are in sterling silver.
The case is 40mm wide constructed from both 18 rose gold and sterling silver. It is just 10mm thick. The movement is known as the caliber 1412, which offers the time with subsidiary seconds as well as a tourbillon. The tourbillon is visible when you open the caseback, and the movement’s frequency is 21,600. The manually wound movement has a power reserve of about 56 hours.
Here again, it’s unmistakable to see the similarities to the original watch movement. You have the twin barrels up top, and of course the tourbillon anchoring the lower part of the movement (in alignment with the subdial, of course). Even the bridge layout and shape have remained the same. Of course, from the pictures we’ve seen, it does look like this new movement is taking advantage of the refinements that thirty years of experience can bring, making for a beautiful movement that embodies its forebear.
As you might expect, this sort of watch (in both its amazing and unconventional design, at least in modern ways of doing things) is not widely available (only 99 pieces), nor is it inexpensive (though it isn’t too bad given F.P. Journe standards). That said, this is more than just a piece to honor F.P. Journe’s beginnings. It is the embodiment of his respect for the last 250 years of horological development, as well as embodying the soul, as he puts it, of horology. This, in my eyes, elevates it in many regards in the luxury segment. This is a piece that’s making a statement – for itself, for its creator, and undoubtedly for its owner.
By signing on with a piece like this, you’re investing in both the past and the future of watchmaking, and something like this cannot help but to inspire you to dig further into the annals of time to learn more about the distant ancestors of this design. For what it’s worth, it has even gotten my mind thinking in those directions, and I’ve only seen the pictures. And hey, if this watch slots into your own personal Grail list (as it is on mine), you’re in great company – the man himself, F.P. Journe, lists his original pocket watch as his true first grail. Limited to 99 pieces, price is $99,000. fpjourne.com
Technical Specifications from F.P. Journe
Movement: Calibre 1412
– Manual winding / 29 turns of crown
– Movement in brass, grained and golden 3N
Dimensions: Overall diameter : 32.60 mm
– Cased-up diameter of movement : 32.00 mm
– Overall height of movement : 5.95 mm
– Height of winding stem : 2.50 mm
– Diameter of stem thread : S1.20 mm
Features: Escapement 15 teeth
– 90° Anchor fork
– Balance with 4 inertia weights
– Flat Anachron balance spring with Breguet overcoil
– Fixed stud holder
– Spring pinned to collet
– Pinned GE stud
– 2 barrels in parallel
– Frequency : 21’600 VPH, (3Hz)
– Inertia : 11.00 mgcm2
– Angle of lift : 52°
– Amplitude : 0h dial up : > 280°
– 24h dial up : > 260°
Main Characteristics: Tourbillon chronometer, revolution in 60 seconds, 2 positions winding crown
Display Off: center hours and minutes at 12h
– Small second at 6h
– 2 positions winding crown
Power reserve: Approximately 56 hours
Finishing: Engraved base plate, grained, golden 3N
– Grained bridges, golden 3N
– Screw heads polished and beveled, with chamfered slots
– Blued screws
– Pegs with polished rounded ends
Case: 18K gold 4N and silver guilloche
– Double back Sapphire crystal and cover in gold and silver guilloche
– Diameter : 40 mm
– Height : 10.00 mm
Dial: Grained silver with numbers and hour circle engraved and filled
– Blued steel Abraham-Louis Breguet hands
– Number of parts_ Jewels : 19
– Movement without dial : 178
– Cased on leather strap : 220