It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since F.P. Journe – arguably one of the world’s greatest living watchmakers – crafted his first handmade watch, a Tourbillon pocket watch. To mark this momentous occasion the brand has recently unveiled the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon, a sublime reimagining of the original with an undeniable modern day touch.
The Same But Different
Despite the fact that the new version is a wristwatch instead of a pocket watch like the original, the two still have a remarkable amount in common. For a start the dial of the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon is a mirror of its predecessor, which says a lot about the consistency of Journe’s artistic vision for his brand even all those years ago. It still fits in perfectly with his current collections and proves once again that simplistic designs based on function through form will always be timeless.
The sterling silver case is a modest 40mm and is brought to life through the use of rose gold bezels on the front and back. Once again it would have been easy to go over the top here and do the whole case in rose gold but instead Journe has chosen to play with contrasts, again demonstrating his flair for understated elegance, a long time signature of the brand. The grained silver dial features a large hour/minute Roman numeral display, complete with Breguet-style hands and smaller subsidiary seconds dial with Arabic numerals, which intersects the main dial at 6 o’clock to create somewhat of a distorted figure eight formation.
Those of you with eagle eyes will no doubt have noticed that Journe’s motto, “Invenit et Fecit” (which roughly translates to “he invented it and then made it”) now appears on the right-hand side of the dial at 4 o’clock, replacing the “A. Paris” inscription from the original. The F.P. Journe name though of course still appears on the left-hand side of the dial at 8 o’clock.
On the back of theHistorical Anniversary Tourbillon is where things get really interesting, although no less historically accurate. The first thing we discover is a beautifully ingrained hinged or hunter caseback, much like that which appeared on the original although I’m not sure if the latter was a finely decorated. However it is what’s underneath that we’re really interested in. Remarkably similar to his original creation, the construction of the movement is much like the design of the dial: highly practical with a focus on simplicity.
The construction of the movement is essentially identical to the original version from 1983, albeit with a few tweaks based on an additional 30 years worth of experience. Across the top are the two barrels responsible for providing power to the one-minute tourbillon centered below. In total there are 178 components and at first glance it is almost impossible to tell the two movements apart, however one notable change is that a lateral pallet escapement has replaced the detent escapement from the original. As such the winding and setting of the movement is now performed via the crown as opposed to a key, which was the case with the original.
Thirty years ago
The finishing of the movement is not particularly complex but the choice of materials (grained, gilded brass and 3N gold) coupled with the high level of attention to detail — frosted, gilt finish, blued steel screws, polished steel components and bevelled edges – has resulted in a highly attractive end product.
Production of the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon will be limited to just 99 pieces, each retailing for US$99,000.
The Final Word
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this Historical Anniversary Tourbillon piece will find favour with F.P. Journe collectors – it is after all a celebration of the man himself and the principles he has worked so hard to establish. More than that though I think it will really pique the interest of budding enthusiasts who will marvel at how something so complex can seemingly be laid out in such simplistic terms. This is truly the work of a master and you don’t need to be an expert to understand – or appreciate – that.