Introducing the F.P. Journe Chronomètre Optimum (Hands-On)
December 2, 2012
Founded by François-Paul Journe in 1999, F.P. Journe is unique in the watchmaking world. They are a small watch manufacture with a factory in Geneva that produces complicated timepieces in-house. The company motto is “Invenit et Fecit” (which means Invented and Made). According to F.P. Journe, 95% of the components are made at the Geneva manufacture. Furthermore, Montres Journe Sa is the only watch company owned privately and headed by its own master watchmaker.
True to the company slogan, François-Paul Journe has invented numerous timepieces that are not just exclusive, but watchmaking world firsts. Now, with the introduction of the Chronomètre Optimum, which is the subject of three patents, another timepiece is added to the already impressive list.
Last week, at the US launch of the Chronomètre Optimum, François-Paul Journe traveled to the F.P. Journe flagship boutique at 721 Madison Avenue to present his newest masterpiece to local journalists and collectors.
The Chronomètre Optimum includes many exceptional functions, brought together for the first time in one watch: two power barrels in parallel, a constant-force remontoir, a revolutionary escapement bi-axial lubrication free escapement (EBHP), and a natural dead beat seconds function.
The patented constant-force remontoir balances the driving the force from the parallel mainsprings before it is applied to the escapement, making it constant. To do so, an extra gear the “remontoir” is independently wound in short spurts by the mainspring (visible on the dial at 11 o’clock).
A remontoir increases a timepiece’s accuracy by evening out the variations in the driving force caused by unevenness of the friction in the gear train. The drive force declines as the mainspring runs down. With a remontoir, the only force applied to the escapement is from the remontoir’s weight. The power source rewinds the titanium remontoir every second, and, therefore, isolates the escapement from variations, thus ensuring the isochronism of the balance and improving the accuracy of the watch.
To further improve on the accuracy, after the power is transferred from the remontoir, it is regulated by a patented bi-axial escapement. This dual wheel direct impulse escapement functions without oil and is the only direct impulse escapement to start up on its own. But not only does it function without lubricant, it also has far greater output than the majority of escapements: 50 hours without loss of amplitude. Like the remontoir, the escapement arbor and wheels are in titanium, which Journe says is preferable to silicium because of its greater durability.
Available in a 40 mm or 42 mm by 10.10 mm platinum or 18K red gold case, with a white gold dial (on the platinum model) or red gold dial (on the red gold model). Leather strap with platinum or red gold pin buckle. Dial has gold and silver guilloché clous de Paris finishing. Functions include hours and minutes (off-center on the right of the dial), small seconds (at 9 o’clock), 1-second remontoir (at 11 o’clock), power reserve indicator (7 o’clock), natural dead -beat seconds (the indicator is visible through the case back on the movement side, it moves counter clockwise).
The manually wound movement, caliber 1510, consists of 240 components, 44 jewels, it runs at 21.600 vph (3Hz) and has a maximum power reserve of 70-hours. The mainplate and bridges are made in 18K rose gold (a signature of the brand seen in most Journe movements). The movement is embellished by hand with circular graining on the baseplate, Geneva waves on bridges, polished screw heads with chamfered slots and pegs with polished rounded ends. The balance is chronometric with inertia weights, the bi-axial escapement is adjusted in 6 positions and the hairspring has a Philips curve.
The Chronometre Optimum is a complicated and highly accurate timepiece that is worthy of its “Chronometer” designation. It is nice to know that even though few brands emphasize improving accuracy when designing a movement; some manufactures do still strive for better timekeeping. Retail $86,400 (rose gold)