One of the most special things about the dial of the Centigraphe Souveraine is that each of the subdials is more or less constantly moving. An innate joy of watching a chronograph in action is seeing the movement of the registers. The Centigraphe amplifies this core attraction by offering three hands that are each moving relatively rapidly, but at different rates. The fastest hand is in the upper left subdial which measures 1/100th of a second via a quickly spinning foudroyante hand that rotates the dial once each second.
The upper right subdial is for measuring the seconds and it moves around the entire dial once each 20 seconds. That gives it three times the speed of a normal chronograph seconds hand–also very nice to watch move. Lastly, there is the minute counter subdial below that measures up to 10 minutes. Each minute is segmented in to 20 second parts so as you can imagine this hand moves relatively frequently as well. The downside to the Centigraphe is that unlike most chronograph movements that measure between 30 minutes to 12 hours, it only measures up to 10 minutes. Having said that, I think the trade off is fair, given the 1/100th of a second precision and ultimate increase in visual satisfaction–the layout is beautiful.
F.P. Journe has produced the Centigraphe in the Souveraine family as well as the Sport family. This Cenigraphe Souveraine is a modest 40mm wide size (here in 18k rose gold) but wears extremely nicely and is visually stunning. It mixes both sport and dress watch elements in a package that says “watch lover” to the right person, but is also eminently fashionable. I think one of the problems that the watch has is a certain level of visual intimidation to people who see it for the first time and don’t know what it is, or how it works. It only takes a momement to learn, but the subdials with many numbers, the many moving hands, and the unique rocker pusher system make it less approachable than other F.P. Journe timepieces. Though, once you become familiar with it, the system is pleasantly simple.
Taking the Centigraphe as a whole, you have yet another timepiece that F.P. Journe has put a huge amount of thought into. Nothing he releases feels rushed or haphazardly designed–though as a brand, there is little interest in appealing to those who are unwilling to take the time to understand his craft. That is OK, there have to be things the seasoned watch lover can look forward to appreciating. The F.P. Journe Centigraphe Souveraine has a retail price of $57,870. fpjourne.com