January 17, 2017
by Zach Pina
It’s been a long time since we last heard from the Vagabondage – the unique, turtle-shaped masterpiece from watchmaker F.P. Journe. Nearly eight years, to be exact, back at a time when the Black-Eyed Peas were still topping the charts, and the Vagabondage II was turning our heads with its signature “digital” display whose overlaid rotating discs “jumped” at the turn of every minute and hour. It was a little bit like the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk, but with a largely skeletonized display. Flash-forward to 2017, and we’re presented with the F.P. Journe Vagabondage III which packs a mind-blowing world premiere: watchmaking’s first and only digital jumping-seconds display.
Like the F.P. Journe Vagabondage II, its third iteration shares the same case silhouette, and thereby nearly identical dimensions (45mm x 37mm x 8mm), despite the newer hand-cranked Caliber 1514 movement beating away inside. Naturally, the challenges with creating a jumping seconds are many, but foremost is that of the amount of energy required for every “jump” cannot be managed by a traditional escapement. Also note that this is different from a “dead-beat” complication, as separate disks are used for the seconds’ ones (0-9) and tens (0-5) – avoiding a large wheel with every number from 1 to 60 on it. F.P. Journe has spent the better part of the last decade developing a special constant force escapement that precisely moves the time train with each second, resulting in a mesmerizing, dynamic display of the time.
Visually speaking, the beautiful rose gold movement plates and overall complexities of the watch are left beneath the skeletonized, smoked sapphire dial. Here, both the hours and seconds are readily visible at a glance, framed in white at 10:00 and 6:00, respectively. The minutes are measured through a centrally mounted hand at the middle of the dial, and the movement’s remaining power reserve is indicated by the blued needle at 1:00. No F.P. Journe branding on the front of the watch is also a trait of the Vagabondage series.
It’s likely that this more traditional means of reading the minutes is what enabled this unique complication to come to life. However, whether Journe has a 100% digital jumping movement with seconds, minutes, and hours somewhere up his sleeve remains to be seen – though F.P. Journe calling this model the third in a “trilogy” would suggest that it would not be in this collection. For now, the F.P. Journe Vagabondage III’s jumping seconds is still a hallmark for innovative haute horology, and an absolute joy to behold.
Though you’ll have to stay tuned for confirmation on the pricing of the F.P. Journe Vagabondage III Watch, we can confirm that only 137 pieces of this super-unique watch will be built: 69 pieces in platinum, and 68 pieces in 18-carat red gold. Order preference will be granted to owners of the Vagabondage I and II, who’ll be able to choose the serial number of their choice, for those with a serious completionist tendencies when it comes to collecting ultra high-end watches such as this. fpjourne.com