I wished to come back to the Chronomètre Optimum by François-Paul Journe. As we have been able to observe for many months, there is a growing interest around the brand founded by the French watchmaker. This is reflected in the strong performance at auctions and the high demand for watches from the current collection. The near-impossibility of obtaining a Chronomètre Bleu is reflected in the Chronomètre Souverain, and there is a kind of phenomenon that affects the entire collection. Even the Elégante did not escape the success. The great strength of François-Paul Journe is to create only watches of definite horological interest or that provoke debate. Let's remember the discussions about the Centigraphe or the Chronomètre à Résonance. Let's remember the surprise of his approach to create a quartz watch specifically for women... a watch that would later become a great success thanks to its male clientele! In short, François-Paul Journe's creations never leave anyone indifferent and this stimulating dimension explains, beyond any consideration of value and investment, a good part of the success met by the brand.
The Chronomètre à Résonance and the Tourbillon Souverain are often cited among F.P. Journe's most emblematic watches. However, I feel that the Chronomètre Optimum does not have the same recognition. I have to admit that I have a little trouble understanding this situation (which may just be a misperception on my part) because I consider the Chronmètre Optimum to be one of his finest creations. It is now one of the most accomplished and complex simple watches on the market. But what is a watch that is both simple and complex? Quite simply, a watch that uses several technical solutions to focus solely on the display of time: hours - minutes - seconds. In fact, the Optimum Chronometer does not display any additional information on the dial except for the power reserve.
However, the top of the dial alerts us to the watch's high degree of technical sophistication. The remontoire à égalité is visible through an opening at 11 o'clock. Apart from the pleasure of observing an additional (and particular) animation on the dial side, the remontoire d'égalité takes on its full meaning with the Chronomètre Optimum because it does not act in isolation.
What makes this watch so successful and explains its name is the combination of three fundamental elements
- the double barrel, whose purpose here is more to ensure the best torque and stability of the driving force than to increase the power reserve
- the remontoire d'égalité which equalizes the force emitted by the double-barrel and transmitted to the escapement in order to ensure a stable behavior throughout the power reserve
- the high-performance bi-axial direct impulse escapement EBHP. In addition to the fact that it operates without oil, this escapement is characterized by its excellent performance, which is estimated to be around 50 hours without modification of the amplitude.
Thus, the objective is not only to achieve the best precision. François-Paul Journe has worked to obtain this precision, but with a stable, constant and optimal behavior over the longest possible power reserve.
The Chronomètre Optimum is not only a technical success. For me, it is one of the most beautiful F.P. Journe watches. I really like its dial with its organization that reminds me of the Octa Chronograph with a large sub-dial on the right and a smaller sub-dial on the left, the two being linked. In addition, the power reserve indicator is discreetly positioned at the base of the dial to leave the main role to the remontoire d'égalité. I also like the contrast between the very small steps of the second hand and the jerky behavior of the remontoir d'égalité.
The handwind caliber 1510 (with has a 70-hour power reserve for a 3hz frequency ) is of course superb and has an original architecture. A bridge covers almost the entire left half corresponding to the area dedicated to the energy and transmission. There is a kind of platinum 1/2 spirit in this movement. On the other hand, the part on the right is much more animated, featuring the regulating organ (and thus the EBHP escapement) and the remontoire. All the talent of François-Paul Journe is expressed through a detail that has its importance. To highlight this 1 second winding mechanism, he installed a natural deadbeat second on the movement (i.e. directly connected to the remontoire), the graduation of which is screwed onto the bridges of the movement. As a result, the movement, like the dial, offers an interesting contrast of animations between the second hand, which performs one step per second, and the permanent oscillations of the balance wheel.
The remontoire is ultimately the real "star" (if I may say so) of the Chronomètre Optimum: visible on the dial side, staged on the movement side, it is indispensable from both a technical and aesthetic point of view. However, one must not forget the spirit of this watch: it is only one component of a complex mechanism that combines several technical solutions.
The Chronomètre Optimum is available in platinum or 6N red gold in two different diameters: 40 or 42mm. I have a preference for the smaller diameter which makes the watch more elegant and balanced. In any case, whatever the version, the Chronomètre Optimum is an extremely desirable piece. Beautiful, classic, original in the presentation of its dial and the presence of the remontoire, surprising by the architecture of its movement, convincing and coherent from a technical point of view, the Chronomètre Optimum is in my opinion one of the most beautiful creations of François-Paul Journe and belongs to the category of fundamental pieces of the Haute Horlogerie segment.