A Visit with FP Journe
Typically, when you think of independent Swiss watch manufactures, you think of mountains and snow, and gray-haired gentlemen in white coats laboring away in alpine chalets. Not so with Journe. His manufacture is right in the heart of Geneva, at the base of the Old City – nary a white beard in sight – and that's exactly how he likes it. Come to think of it, "exactly how he likes it" is perfect way to describe Journe and the uncompromising watches that he creates. There is no consensus, no focus groups and no marketing pow-wows. With Journe, he makes the watch that he wants to make, and if you like it, great. He'll sell you one. If you don't, that's on you bub, now here's the door. To say that this approach is controversial may understate things a bit, however for a manufacture that produces well under 1000 pieces a year, it works out just fine.
But I digress here. One of the traditions of SIHH centers not around the exhibiting brands, but around FP Journe, and his eponymous manufacture, which opens its doors to journalists and collectors during the week of the show. A bit opportunistic? Perhaps, but hey, it's not like we aren't already here and it's not like he's already here, so where's the harm? At least he didn't rent a boat and moor it in front of the Beau Rivage and open it to the public...
This year's event marked a particularly special unveiling for Journe, in that it was the official debut of the last in his Vagabondage series, the Vagabondage III. It's hard to believe that was just over 10 years ago that the Vagabondage, with its wandering hour complication, was introduced for the auction house Antiquorum (it was later produced in a limited series), but time waits for no one, and so, here we are. The Vagabondage II followed in 2010 with a more conventional jumping hour/minute complication, which necessitated the inclusion of a remontoire, or constant-force mechanism to regulate the power delivery from the going train – which is awesome – but as we now see, it was paving the way for the future of the series. Which brings us to the Vagabondage III...
Once more, we see the signature tortue case, rendered here in platinum (red gold is coming). The look will be familiar to any fan of the brand, as will be the jumping hour, but with the Vagabondage III, Journe has accomplished something that was heretofore considered impossible -- it has a jumping seconds complication! I'm not sure that it's possible for me to convey just how freaking badass this is. I mean, if you thought that managing the power delivery and reserve for a jump hour/minute was difficult, try doing the same for seconds. As in 60 times per minute. 24 hours a day. Yeah, it's really that amazing.
69 will be produced in platinum, followed by another run of 68 in red gold. It's a fair bet that most, if not all, have already been spoken for, but if you've got a yen for the impossible and your pockets are deep enough, it's hard to see how you could say no to putting this one on your wrist.
Of course, since we were here, what with us being us and all, we figured why not poke around the manufacture a bit?
This impressive machine is used in the service of making impressive watches (no, I don't remember what it does, but I'm certain that it's impressive):
Believe it or not, but Mssr. Journe remains hands-on with his creations, so, yes, he maintains an office where you can find him daily, laboring away with the rest of his team:
There's even an office dog:
(Every office needs a dog.)
All in all, it was another wonderful visit for RedBar, this time around for a very special watch, and we can't wait to get back again.