March 7, 2015
by Ariel Adams
It has taken Francois-Paul about two years to finally release his highly anticipated Perpetual Calendar watch to market. True enough, F.P. Journe originally announced the lovely Quantième Perpétuel watch back in 2013. Now in early 2015, our favorite Geneva-based watch maker has finally announced that the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel will be available for sale within the next few months. So why did this innocent perpetual calendar watch take so long to finish, and why is it perhaps my favorite perpetual calendar watch ever?
Dissatisfied with the performance of how the indicator windows changed on his original prototypes, Francois-Paul decided to invest in a few high-speed video cameras to capture exactly what was going on when the date changed in the calibre FPJ 1300-3 movements. F.P. Journe’s now famous watchmaker-OCD wanted to make sure that all the windows changed not only instantly – but at the exact same time. This was especially complicated on those special moments when both the date, day, and month all needed to change together. Francois-Paul would simply not announce the watch as “done” until this key issue was fixed.
So it took about two years, and now, after all this wait, one of the most perfect perpetual calendar watches in the world is ready for consumption by the world’s most serious watch-nerd collectors. F.P. Journe maintains an elite status among serious collectors because the brand is not interested in fashion or folly, but rather the dissemination of good watches to those successful people with good taste. Appreciating this (as well as agreeing) melts my watch nerd heart and makes the brand’s most beautiful items very difficult to resist.
Already a fan of F.P. Journe, I will admit the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel is not the typical type of watch I lust for, because I am not particularly enamored with most perpetual calendar complications. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them, but they aren’t the typical types of complications I get super excited about. Well, not all the time, that is. I find most perpetual calendar complication watches to have busy, uninteresting dials or have too many fiddly issues to be useful. Take, for example, all those inset pushers on the dial of cases used to set them. That works fine for a cheap watch, but when spending big bucks, little else seems less elegant when it comes to setting a mechanism. Also, why all the bother for a perpetual calendar when, most of the time, I don’t keep watches wound for years on end? It seems as though in most instances, an annual calendar will do just fine.
So with that said, there are only a few perpetual calendar watches out there that truly interest me – one being the Greubel Forsey QP (here) – as well as just a few others. What does get me excited about a perpetual calendar is when it is engineered to the umpteenth degree. And when you want highly engineered, super refined experiences you can certainly count on companies like F.P. Journe to get that. So with the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel, you have what Francois-Paul himself sees as being the best execution of a perpetual calendar. And what does that mean?
Well, as a perpetual calendar, the watch needs to have perpetual power, right? The F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel is one of the less common automatic winding F.P. Journe movements, and it happens to come with a five-day-long power reserve. Of course, there is a power reserve indicator on the dial as well. Basically, F.P. Journe designed the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel to be as easy as possible to keep wound and to remind you to keep wound, because otherwise, the point of a perpetual calendar would be lost.
What separates a perpetual calendar from an annual calendar is the fact that the movement keeps track of leap years. Having said that, leap year indicators are mostly useless to look at on a daily basis. For that reason, I prefer it when leap year indicators are less obvious or simply put on the rear of the case (like in the H. Moser & Cie Perpetual 1). F.P. Journe’s tactic was to put the leap year indicator as a third, very small central hand. So the leap year indicator is there, but it isn’t really distracting.
I prefer F.P. Journe watches where the time is indicated in the center of the dial, as opposed to an off-centered indicator. So I am additionally happy that the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel was designed with the time in the center. The windows for the calendar indicators are logical and easy to see, but also symmetrical. All of this together makes the dial both attractive and useful. And on top of all that, the watch dial is still unique and interesting. The internal bezel plate that is screwed on the dial creates a distinctive look and separates the inner dial from the outer dial that has the hour indicators.
So, a bit more about the movement… Again, it is the in-house made calibre FPJ 1300-3 automatic. The movement is mostly produced from 18k rose gold and has a 22k gold automatic rotor that has been decorated with guilloche engravings. The movement operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) with 192 hours of power reserve. The movement is gorgeous in typical F.P. Journe style – and visible through the caseback’s sapphire crystal window. I’m also happy to see another perpetual calendar movement that doesn’t, by some odd sense of necessity, have a moon phase indicator.
In terms of setting the time and calendar, everything is done via the crown, so there are no unwelcome in-set pushers around the case. Actually, there is one sort of exception that you will find useful. Under one of the lugs is a corrector you can adjust with your finger that I believe is for adjusting the month, in the event the watch has been sitting for a long time and needs to be corrected without you wanting to sit there for a long time turning the crown. This shows the ergonomic-mentality Francois-Paul has when designing his movements.
On the wrist, the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel is a handsome 42mm wide – which is my preferred size for a watch like this. Actually, there will also be a 40mm wide version. This is one of those instances where you can get the same F.P. Journe watch in a 40mm or 42mm wide size. The case is also quite thin for an automatic perpetual calendar, at just 10.8mm thick. At launch, the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel will be available in either 18k red gold or 950 platinum, and probably stay that way, though I have a feeling F.P. Journe might mix it up a bit with additional dial styles in the future. Since the 2013 debut of the perpetual calendar watches, the company has developed some interesting new dial production techniques which F.P. Journe has been slowly integrating into more and more of their models – even existing ones. That means F.P. Journe’s first obligation is to produce the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel models promised in 2013 and then flesh out the collection a bit more with additional dials. So we will see how that goes. I have a feeling this collection is going to be quite popular, so some variety will be merited.
I feel rather comfortable claiming the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel collection as one of the finest mechanical perpetual calendar watch movements around. It very much feels that way, and the quality of the finished movements is stunning. Price isn’t cheap, but feels quite fair for what you are getting – especially given the competition. If you want a well-made perpetual calendar that will work as a daily wear and is comfortable to read, the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel deserves a place on your short list. Price in 18k red gold is $73,000 for the 40mm wide version and $74,800 for the 42mm wide version. In platinum, the 40mm wide version is $76,500 and $78,200 for the 42mm wide version. fpjourne.com