«If they could do it, I can do it better!» On the strength of this conviction, thirty years ago F.P. Journe began constructing a pocket watch with tourbillon.
«But why on earth did François-Paul take on such an adventure at barely 20 years of age?» His past explains this decision, which at first sight seemed completely out of reach. From an early age, François-Paul was already an unusual boy, confident and a little rebellious. He was not an easy child. No one could channel his energy. And his desire to understand everything was often perceived as impertinence. This attitude resulted in many discipline problems at the schools he attended in Marseille, his hometown.
Since the normal curriculum did not suit him at all, and on the advice of his uncle Michel Journe, himself a watchmaker based in Paris, François-Paul enrolled in the watchmaking school in Marseille. Michel Journe was one of only three specialists in the restoration of antique clocks and watches, often unique, from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His reputation stretched far beyond France. His clients consisted of museums and high-flying collectors.
In 1977, after graduation, François-Paul joined his uncle’s company full time. Being in contact with the beautiful pieces being restored in the workshop, and in a very short time, he progressed in leaps and bounds. François-Paul understood that all these geniuses such as Ferdinand Berthoud, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Antide Janvier, George Daniels, and others, were driven by a constant quest for perfection. This perfection which combines technical achievement and pure beauty with timeless aesthetics. We should also remember that these men were not only creative geniuses of watchmaking, but also mathematicians, physicians, astrologers, and often unusual personalities too…
François-Paul has always had one principle inherent in his personality, which he likes to express by the phrase: «If they could do it, I can do it better!»
To make a clock with complications is already a great technical feat. However, when François-Paul found the works of George Daniels, such as The Art of Breguet, on the shelves of the workshop, another world opened up to him. It is thanks to the wonderful drawings in these books that he understood how a movement works in three dimensions, its kinematics and all the various ins and outs.
It did not take him long to realise that his deep desire was pushing him towards this crazy idea - to produce his own tourbillon watch entirely by hand. Obviously what he had learned in school had not at all prepared him for such a massive undertaking. However, this completely crazy project fulfilled his ambitions.
Therefore, it was with all his energy, all his heart, all his passion, that he embarked on the adventure. He began to scribble sketches for His Watch, tore them up, started again and yet again. He never imagined that it would take so long and be so demanding, such a heavy burden to carry, but due to his determination, tenacity, talent and desire to prove what he was capable of, he went to the end of the «pilgrimage» that lasted five years, until the blessed day when «as if by magic the mechanism came alive on its own after a short winding of the springs.» He was totally mesmerized watching its mechanism work. «And I remember continuing to admire it for almost the entire night.» It was in 1983...
Today, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his first «baby», François-Paul has decided to create a series of 99 copies greatly inspired by its first 1983 Tourbillon, adding to it his experience, perspective and modern technical production capacities.
This wristwatch, re-interpretation of the original masterpiece presents the same materials used 30 years ago: a case in guilloche silver enhanced by two gold bezels in rose gold 4N. The transparent sapphire back reveals the tourbillon movement of classic construction made in grained and gilded brass, identical to the original of 1983. Two parallel barrels distribute energy to a wheels train, arranged in the axis of the watch, which runs the tourbillon revolving in one minute. The lateral pallet escapement, which is more compatible with a wristwatch, replaces the detent escapement of the original, and the winding and time setting with a key have now been replaced by the 3 o’clock crown. Made today in the workshops of the manufacture, the movement features high quality components, with nowadays elaborate polishing, beveling and finishings that weren’t possible at the time. It encompasses a sobriety and a nobility of first generation tourbillon movements made by the great Masters. The movement is protected by a splendid case back cover in silver guilloche. The dial in grained silver is engraved with filled roman numerals and a steel hour circle, identical to the original tourbillon of 1983. The hours are indicated by blued steel Abraham- Louis Breguet hands, identical to those of the original pocket watch.
The limited edition of this Historical Anniversary Tourbillon will allow 99 privileged clients to be part of a chapter of the F.P. Journe’s extraordinary watch journey and thus possess a part of its history.
Manufacture F.P. Journe
Based since 2000 at 17, rue de l’Arquebuse in Geneva, the independent manufactory F.P.Journe produces precision chronometers whose complex and original mechanisms reflect a unique vision of contemporary luxury watchmaking. It is housed in a listed building dating from 1892. On a floor space of 2,000 square metres spread over three levels, around 125 employees – watchmakers, engineers, technical draughtsmen, precision mechanics, chamferers, polishers, decorators, dial-makers and case-makers – produce 95% of the components needed to manufacture the brand’s timepieces.
With an annual production of fewer than 900 watches, F.P. Journe celebrates the return of the watchmaker’s art in the true sense, giving everyone responsibility for the complete assembly of a watch.
Its formidable growth saw the Geneva brand celebrate the opening of new premises in September 2012 for Les Cadraniers de Genève and Les Boîtiers de Genève, two firms which share the same building in Meyrin in the canton of Geneva. Owned by F.P. Journe, they produce all the brand’s dials and cases, as well as dials offering exceptional added value in terms of craftsmanship, and cases in small series for renowned watchmakers.
Titles and rewards won by F.P. Journe
- 1987 Prize of the Fondation de la Vocation Bleustein Blanchet.
- 1989 Prize of the «Balancier d’Or» by the Watchmakers Convention in Madrid.
- 1994 Gaia Prize for Best Watchmaker of the Year, award from the Musée de l’Homme et du Temps.
- 2002 GPHG (Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève): Special Jury Prize for the Octa Calendrier.
- 2004 GPHG: «Aiguille d’Or» Prize for the Tourbillon Souverain à seconde morte.
- 2005 GPHG: Men’s Watch Prize for the Chronomètre Souverain.
- 2006 Title of «Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres» by the French Minister of Culture.
- 2006 GPHG: «Aiguille d’Or» Prize for the Sonnerie Souveraine.
- 2008 GPHG: «Aiguille d’Or» Prize for the Centigraphe Souverain.
- 2010 GPHG: Complicated Watch Prize for the Chronomètre à Résonance.
November 26, 2013