The following is a part of a longer conversation during a meeting between Mr Journe and myself as I was, at the end of the day, very kindly offered the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I of course grabbed this chance and asked him about where the collection is heading now.
We had an interpreter translating between English and French. Please, have this in mind.
C: You just discontinued a number of watches at the end of 2018. Can you say a bit about this?
FPJ: Yes, this is correct. We had to. We are a small manufacture. We have recently introduced some new models (The Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante, the Tourbillon vertical, the Resonance etc.) and we need to free production capacity as we have more coming up in the pipeline. For instance, the next Resonance, the Astronomic and some more after that.
C: Yes, you are ending the Resonance with a special edition only available this year.
FPJ: On the last the working day in December, we will finish the very last of the current Resonance. We will have produced the number we will have produced. We have to stop it because, the first week of January, the production of the next Resonance begins. It has to be ready for the launch at SIHH.
C: We are, of course extremely excited to see the new Resonance. Will you utilize the phenomenon of Resonance in another way in this watch than the previous?
FPJ: It is an entirely new movement. It will be quite different from the previous one, not just an update of the old. However, the Phenomenon of Resonance is of course the same.
C: Oh! So now, I need to find out which one I should get!
FPJ: That is the eternal curse! (Laughs…)
The final version of the current Resonance movement.
C: Will we see the new Rattrapante in the classic Souveraine case?
FPJ: No way! That was for Only Watch.
C: Yesterday you released a picture of the new Centigraphe on Facebook, without the rubber parts on the bracelet and case! We already got some very positive comments about that on the forum. Why did you change it?
FPJ: At one point, we had some issues with the supplier of caoutchouc (rubber parts). It led me to reconsider them. They were originally needed on the aluminum cases and bracelets as they functioned like bumpers on a car, because Aluminum is a softer metal. The caoutchouc parts moved along from those early aluminum pieces to the titanium pieces and then to the gold and platinum pieces. These other metals however do not need rubber in the same way. Therefore, after thinking about it I have made the decision to take them out.
C: We have only seen a picture of the Rattrapante, so far. Does this mean you will remove the caoutchouc parts from all of the Line Sport?
FPJ: Yes, eventually they will go out of the entire collection, as we are not producing in aluminum any more.
C: With new the Tourbillon Vertical, we see some new aesthetic features. I am specifically thinking about the enamel sub dial and the decorated bridges that are also, partially used as a dial. Are these a slight shift in aesthetics, something we will see more of in in other watches.
FPJ: Regarding the enamel dial. That is something I have never done previously. A good enamel dial needs a certain thickness, and that goes against my philosophy, I want to make my watches as slim as possible. When I rotated the Tourbillon to create the Tourbillon Vertical, I needed to add thickness to the case, and so I got more volume in the case and that provided the necessary space for the enamel dial.
I have always been interested in enamel dials from an historical perspective. I found an historical font that we used specifically for this enamel dial that pleasantly complements our regular font. (Notice the font on the enamel dial)
Regarding the baseplate used as a dial - that is not something new! (He pulls over the new book about FPJourne) look here is a picture of the tourbillon Souverain from 1991. (The very first Tourbillon Wristwatch by FPJ) In this watch, that is the back of the base plate as well, with a special decoration. Therefore, you can perhaps say it was like a nod to that watch.
C: Ah yes – Interesting. The finishing of the Tourbillon Vertical is different with an engraved pattern– is it something new?
FPJ: Yes, but that finish I made on the Tourbillon Souverain from 1991 was not something I would do again. I did the original finish of the top bridges myself, by hand, and it took days and days - The risk of making mistakes when using this technique is just too high.
(Remember the finish is applied directly to the bridges – so discarding a bad finish on the “dial”, would actually mean discarding the entire bridges in solid gold!)
C: While we are on the subject of finishing, I have personally been wondering about the gold movements.
In the very early Tourbillon wristwatches produced in Paris, you are applying a more traditional French finishing of the movement. (Similar to L.A. Breguet)
Later when you started the production in Genève, you change to the more classical Genevan tradition of Côtes de Genève applied to a brass movement. In 2004 you change the brass movement to solid rose gold movements with Côtes de Genève. I have been wondering if the gold movement was a way for you to perhaps get closer to the French Horological tradition by having the colored baseplate and bridges?
FPJ: It is not exactly like that. It comes from my youth – it is an old dream I had, to make movements in gold. When I was younger and doing restoration work, I was shown a movement from the 18th century made entirely in gold. This was something special and very luxurious. Very, very rare and it disappeared again – perhaps because of the war? (I´m guessing FPJ is referring to the French revolution). I thought it was so beautiful. That is how I got the dream. To one day, be able to make a movement entirely in gold.
(C: I have since the interview, learned that the first wristwatch from 1991 had the movement constructed in 18 ct gold)
C: About the élégante Line - I think when you get that watch on the wrist; it is extremely comfortable and light, even sporty. I see a lot of potential in this line. Will you expand the élégante Line with other movements?
FPJ: Do you mean mechanical or electromechanical?
FPJ: No, not with a mechanical movement. However, I am working on an idea where am using the electromechanical movement for a complication. That has turned out to be much more complicated than I expected, so there is still a lot of work to be done, to solve those issues. Something will come.
C: We get quite a few comments on the site from collectors stating that they prefer the 38 mm cases to the bigger sizes. You changed your sizes from offering 38 mm / 40 mm to offering 40 mm / 42 mm for most pieces in the Octa and Souverain Line. Can you please say a little about that change?
FPJ: Yes, I heard this. I need say, in the last few years when we offered the 38 mm case, we had a very hard time selling those watches in 38 mm. Perhaps we sold as little as 15 in a year. Everyone wanted 40 mm. We also had requests for bigger sizes – so I finally decided to change to 40 mm and 42 mm.
When we are on the topic of sizes. The CB is only one size - 39 mm. It seems to be a very harmonious case with very good proportions. Why is this watch a different size to the rest of the collection?
Because we had to make the case in Tantalum and that was already quite complicated in itself. Therefore, I needed to simplify it. Therefore, I cut it in half! (laughs...) at the time we offered 38 and 40 mm – so 39!
C: You have made your own version of the Natural escapement with several patents on it. Will we see this escapement utilized in other watches than the Chronomètre Optimum?
I have been working on developing a new escapement for quite some time now. The principle for this escapement is closer to a Detent escapement, but it will be something new and different also. My focus is entirely on this new escapement at the moment.
Very interesting! Will you utilize some of the modern tech materials that we see in the escapements being developed at the moment, or do you stick to strictly traditional materials in this new escapement?
I can’t tell you. It is one of the possible routes that is being explored but that decision has not been made yet.
C: Mr. Journe – on behalf of the WatchProSite, I would like to thank you for taking time for us and for your answers.
FPJ: You’re very welcome.
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