Ineichen launches another mono-auction dedicated to the work of a single watchmaker: The World of F. P. Journe. We're sure that François-Paul Journe belongs to the narrow circle of modern watchmakers who deserve such an auction format, maybe he even has the privilege to be at the top of this list. In recent years, auction prices for this master's watches have exploded. This is due to many factors at the same time.
First, the F. P. Journe brand has a remarkable history of notable achievements, numerous inventions, groundbreaking developments and unique designs – François-Paul Journe has unmistakably maintained his own style throughout the brand's 24-year history. The particular F. P. Journe style is considered to be the signature of an outstanding master, just as a great painter can be recognized by his characteristic brushstrokes. You don't have to be a watchmaking expert to recognize an F. P. Journe watch.
Second, the coherence of François-Paul Journe's strategy in developing the collection led to a consolidation of customers' trust in him. This is perhaps the most valuable component of brand capitalization. It seems that customers are now ready to trust the master unconditionally.
Third, it is the high quality of F. P. Journe watch mechanics. Ian Skellern, an expert in haute horlogerie and independent watchmakers, says, "Journe's calibers work smoothly." François-Paul Journe has developed numerous complications, from the constant-force tourbillon and the resonance twin movement to the Grand Sonnerie, the split chronograph, and the instantaneous digital hour indication by the animated fingers of a hand, and each of his creations works flawlessly.
Fourth, it is the exclusivity and limited production, which amounts to about a thousand watches per year. On the one hand, this number is very small for the whole world with 8 billion inhabitants, which speaks for the exclusivity. On the other hand, this number is large enough that F. P. Journe watches constantly appear on the auction and secondary market, which makes the process of verifying the fairness of the prices that develop on the market dynamic and responsive.
Fifth, it is an uncompromising approach to production standards. François-Paul Journe is clearly not concerned with winning a hundred or two hundred francs for a few trifles. If he chooses to have the mainplates and bridges be solid gold, then so be it. If he deviates from this rule, he tries to explain his decision in detail and clarify his logic. There is also no compromise in the manufacture of cases, dials, hands and clasps - all components of the F. P. Journe watch.
Finally, F.P. Journe's watches are beautiful. He has developed his own esthetic, which harmoniously combines with his style in watch mechanics. This is a very rare and valuable advantage.
From the exquisite Chronomètre à Résonance to the avant-garde Élégante 40mm Titalyt quartz watch and the sporty LineSport Chronograph Rattrapante, The World of F.P. Journe auction showcases the various facets of François-Paul Journe's talent.
The auction catalog begins with the iconic Chronomètre à Résonance. It is No. 278-RN "The Second Generation" (Lot 01) in a rare 18k rose gold execution. Part of collecting F.P. Journe watches is knowing a lot of details, and the description of the present example offered for auction should contain a wealth of such information. This watch is also known as the 'Second Generation' or 'Résonance Nouveau' because at the end of 2004, F.P. Journe stopped using rhodium or ruthenium-plated brass calibers and instead began making calibers with mainplate and bridges in solid 18k rose gold. Thus, the Chronomètre à Résonance received the second-generation caliber 1499.2, while the original caliber 1499 is now referred to as the 'first generation" The second-generation watches were produced from 2004 to 2009, with the popular platinum models making up the majority of the run, while the rose gold models made up about 1/6 to 1/4. They were given a matte white or rose gold dial. We refer to the present watch as 'super-monochrome', with a rose gold case, a matte textured rose gold dial, and a rose gold caliber. Consequently, the percentage of watches made in the super-monochrome version is even lower, which makes this piece very attractive to collectors.
30 Years Anniversary Tourbillon Ref. T30 Limited Edition (Lot 02), or T30 for short, has recently received a unique positioning in the market. The limited edition of 99 pieces, launched in 2013, is very popular because it stands out from the rest of the F.P. Journe collection. This is true both for its appearance, which is different from Journe's two main designs - Souverain/Octa and Vagabondage/Elegante - and for the movement, which, unlike almost all the brand's calibers that received the main plate and bridges in 18k rose gold since 2004-2005, is made using the old technique, i.e. brass with gold plating and a frosty finish. Interestingly, this is almost the only Journe watch that can be attributed with great certainty to the popular vintage trend - it reproduces the design of the master's first tourbillon pocket watch, which he made in 1983. The T30 received the rarest bimetallic execution in rose gold and sterling silver, which is an exquisite reminder of both Abraham-Louis Breguet's experiments and the modern brand's rare reference 3450. Outstanding in every respect, the T30, one of the most charismatic F. P. Journe designs of all time, is greeted with enthusiasm and auction prices soar to impressive heights.
Octa Calendar No. 013-04Q ‘Platinum, Original’ (Lot 03) also references the monochrome designs of F.P. Journe, but that's the least that can be said about this watch. The caliber 1300 in its original version with rhodium-plated brass mainplate and bridges will serve as an indisputable argument for the collector - the brass movement is reason enough to pay close attention to this lot, as it is known that F. P. Journe produced only about 2,000 hours with brass calibers before the transition to solid gold calibers in 2004-2005 - that's the number of all models produced during that period. Also of interest is the Octa Calendrier with the very early number 013, which should definitely be considered when considering its possible affiliation with the so-called post-subscription editions - please read our note on lot 13.
Octa Calendar No. 324-Q ‘Rose Gold, The Second Generation’ (Lot 04) seems to be the perfect complement to the previous lot – this watch is powered by the second-generation caliber 1300.2, the first version of this caliber after F. P. Journe mainplate and bridges in gold instead of brass. The discreet 40mm rose gold case gives the watch a classic aura, while the gold F.P. Journe folding clasp adds a chic touch. The collector should take into account the rarity of this model due to the small production span: The watch was generally produced from 2005 to 2006, but there may also be an issue in the transitional years of 2004 and 2007.
Octa Lune No. The 200-L "Platinum, The Second Generation" (Lot 05) features the original classic 38mm design that is no longer in production – which certainly adds to the watch's charm as one of Journe’s original designs in the original 38mm platinum case. Acollectedman.com mentions the rarity of second-generation Octa Lune compared to the third and even the original first generation. We think this information should be of interest to collectors - finally, of all F. P. Journe watches, the rarer ones almost always win. The production span of second-generation Octa Lune is the same as the previous Lot 04, i.e. this version was produced mainly for two years, from 2005 to 2006 (the present Octa Lune example is dated 2006), additionally there may be a release in the transition period - in 2004 and 2007.
The World of F. P. Journe auction offers two Élégante 40mm Titalyt watches (Lots 06 and 08), which we consider is a significant event. The underestimation of Élégante watches, often perceived as an addition to the main collection of F.P. Journe, must be overcome. Yes, it is a quartz watch. But that's the only thing you can accuse them of. Of course, we understand that mechanical F.P. Journe watches are deservedly in high demand and attract more interest from collectors, but with the Élégante, the situation is not so clear-cut. We invite you to appreciate the quartz caliber 1210, which was specially developed for this collection. In our opinion, it is one of the best modern Swiss-made quartz calibers. François-Paul Journe did not hesitate to open it and install it under the sapphire caseback - a rarity for quartz watches. This caliber deserves respect for its high-quality workmanship and sophisticated functionality – it's definitely not a cheap, mass-produced dollar movement. In our opinion, the biggest plus point of the Élégante collection is the tortue case design, which is very similar to the Vagabondage design. Think of the Élégante as a Vagabondage quartz watch - isn't this approach worth considering? Then check out the prices on the secondary market - they will surprise you.
Like the Élégante watch, the Chronomètre Bleu belonged to the "dark horse" category just a few years earlier. This model was introduced in 2009 as a more affordable alternative to other watches in the F.P. Journe collection, which are equipped with complications and therefore come at a higher price. Nevertheless, the Chronomètre Bleu has gained popularity over the years. Today, it is considered one of the brand's most compelling designs thanks to its striking navy blue dial, exotic tantalum case and clean, classic design with only hour, minute and small seconds hands on the dial. Ineichen offers the Chronomètre Bleu No. 482-CB (Lot 07), which was originally sold in 2013. Its hand-wound caliber 1304 contrasts nicely with the tantalum case with its characteristic blue-grey hue, as the mainplate and bridges are made of 18k rose gold. The caliber has a symmetrical layout with two partially open barrels and a large chronometric balance. This makes the caliber reminiscent of traditional precision pocket watch movements, which adds to the appeal of this watch.
Tourbillon Souverain Ref. T No. 282-03T ‘The Fourth Generation, Small Dial Screws’ (Lot 09) is a true F. P. Journe collectible classic, as this design was the origin of the brand founded in 1999. Many early F. P. Journe models that were converted to solid gold calibers in 2004–2005 retained the key design features entirely, but that was not the case with the Tourbillon Souverain. The pre-2004 Tourbillon Souverain watches are unique in two ways: they have a special dial with a small opening through which you can see the constant-force ratchet wheel, and the 1498 caliber has an original closed construction with a small linear slot for an intermediate flat spring for the constant-force mechanism. The present example made in 2003, belongs to the late phase of this design, just before the introduction of the Ruthenium collection. This late Tourbillon Souverain is known as the fourth generation, or by the nickname ‘small dial screws’. All four generations of Tourbillon Souverain Ref. T are very high on the market - without each of them, any Tourbillon Souverain collection would be incomplete.
The Ruthénium collection, designed by Journe as the final edition of watches with brass calibers, has always attracted the attention of collectors. It consists of five platinum models: Tourbillon Souverain, Chronomètre à Résonance, Octa Jour et Nuit, Octa Calendrier and Octa Chronographe, each numbered and limited to 99 pieces. Ineichen presents the Octa Chronographe Ruthénium Collection No. 33/99-02C (lot 10), where both the gold dial and the brass movement are coated with ruthenium, hence the name of the collection. This collection was also the first time F. P. Journe used a 40mm case, while the brand had only made 38mm watches since its foundation. The Octa Chronographe was discontinued in 2008 and replaced by the ultra-fast Centigraphe Souverain chronograph. As a result, the Octa Chronographe as a whole in all versions is a rare and attractive watch for collectors, especially in this particular historically significant version with a ruthenium-plated brass caliber. The Octa Chronographe Ruthénium is not only a collector's item, but also has an undeniable esthetic appeal with a special asymmetrical chronograph dial designed by François-Paul Journe.
Another rare complication in the Octa collection is the Octa UTC No. 141-UTC (Lot 12), which features a special version of the second time zone display designed for this watch by François-Paul Journe. A notable feature of the UTC mechanism is an adjustable miniature world map on the dial, which helps to visually identify the home time or reference time zone - its time is indicated by a small gold-colored 24-hour hand on the main sub-dial. Also, the world map helps to read the home time or the reference time, depending on whether the change from standard time to daylight saving time has been made or not. In our opinion, Octa UTC watches do not belong to the circle of F. P. Journe's most popular references, and the total number of watches produced is unlikely to exceed 200 pieces. This is the irony of the collectible watch market: Given the brand's popularity, the model's rarity opens up good prospects as a collectible: early Daytonas from the 1960s and 1970s were anything but bestsellers. Christie’s and Sotheby’s mention that the Octa UTC production period was relatively short – the watches were made from 2011 to 2018. This is confirmed by the fact that the Octa UTC shows up very rarely at auctions and we have not found any reference to specimens with a case number of 2xx or higher.
The Octa Réserve de Marche No. 020-03A (Lot 13) with 38 mm platinum case deserves special attention. This watch bears the series 03A designation, indicating the 2003 production year, and is equipped with the Caliber 1300 with сôtes сirculaires stripes on the bridges, a feature that first appeared in the Octa that year. The Octa Réserve de Marche, launched by F. P. Journe in 2001, was the brand's first self-winding wristwatch and features an extended power reserve of 120 hours with chronometric precision throughout. The same model with case number 001-03A sold by Phillips is described in the essay as one of the numbers 001 to 020 that François-Paul Journe reserved specifically as 'subscription" pieces for those who ordered the Tourbillon Souverain 'subscription" so that they would have the option of purchasing a new watch with the matching case number. According to Phillips, this applies to Chronomètre à Résonance, Octa Réserve de Marche, Octa Chronograph and Octa Calendrier. Of course, this is no guarantee that the watch ended up in the hands of the owners of the Tourbillon Souverain "Subscription", but the Octa Réserve de Marche in the original 38 mm platinum version with the first-generation brass caliber 1300 and an early number is always a desirable purchase for a discerning collector.
The LineSport Chronograph Rattrapante No. 117-CMS (Lot 14) with blackened titanium case ends the auction with a highlight. This watch, launched in 2018 by F. P. Journe, will never lose its relevance, as it belongs to a very rare implementation of a split-seconds chronograph in the traditional version of this complication, implemented according to the rules of haute horlogerie. Its caliber 1518 looks like it was taken from a high-end pocket watch from the late 19th or early 20th century, with a system of ornate curved levers and flat springs, two column wheels and a large chronometric balance. The caliber is made in the Geneva tradition, with three beautifully curved teardrop-shaped bars, a chronometric balance with eccentric posing weights, a Geneva fixing cap on the outer hairspring coil, an axle of the 30-minute counter passing through the crown wheel cap, and an excellent finish. Of course, Francois-Paul Journe does not copy historical calibers; that is not his style. He works on the cutting edge of the watchmaking art. That's why he offers an unprecedented mainplate and bridges made of an aluminum alloy for the split-seconds caliber, because this is typical for other models in his LineSport collection. Innovations in the split seconds chronograph mechanism also include the clutch scheme with a rocking pignon, which is very rare in split seconds calibers (except for those based on the Eta/Valjoux 7750) and perhaps never before seen in a high-end traditional-style split seconds chronograph, and the monopusher control of the chronograph function with a button at 2 o'clock, while the split function is operated by a button at 4 o'clock. A watch with a caliber of such a high standard would never be produced in large numbers. A watch with a caliber of such a high standard would never be offered at an affordable price.