F.P. Journe Souveraine Chronomètre Optimum Is Unveiled

platinum case


Here it is, the FP Journe Souveraine Chronomètre Optimum, unveiled few days ago in Tokyo.  As the name suggests, this watch (available in platinum or pink gold case) is esteemed watchamaker Francois Paul Journe’s vision of the ideal, or “optimum” chronometer.   F.P.Journe is known for complex mechanisms (e.g. Resonance, Souverain) and in the Chronometre Optium he has built upon these ideas to create what is basically a complex chronometer that takes a twin barrel power supply and feeds it through a remontoir to an efficient, lubrication-free bi-axial-escapement (patented).

If it seems complicated that’s OK because it is — I think that the video the FP Journe put together does an excellent job of distilling it down for non-watchmakers.  At least to the point of being able to partially understand all the complexities of this watch:

On the back you can see a dead beat seconds.  It is linked to the remontoir.  Note also that it runs counter-clockwise (as seen in video).

I will add a few additional points.  Like all Journe watches, the movement bridges and base plate are in rose gold.  Power reserve on this caliber is 70 hours.  Both the constant-force remontoire and the bi-axial escapement have been awarded patents (EP1528443.A1/US6,948,845 (granted 2005) and EP11405210.3/US20120207000 (pending Aug 2012), respectively).

The bi-axial escapement is particularly interesting (Journe notes it is “inspired by that of A.L. Breguet created in the XVIII Century”–hey, so is ‘perpetuelle’!), with the twin escape wheels and anchor in titanium, lubrication free and also with a constant amplitude for the first 50 hours of power reserve (the total power reserve is 70 hours).  First a schematic of the escapement….

and then here is a close up of it, in the metal…

The case is available in 38 or 40 mm diameter, in either rose gold or platinum. The retail prices for the 40 mm versions are approximately CHF 85,800 in rose gold version and CHF 91,800 for the platinum version (about $90k-$100k at current f/x).

I myself am still working to get my head around the technicalities of this piece.  As for the overall aesthetic, it is signature FP Journe — unconventional, but alluring and beautiful all at once.  Journe is one of the modern day greats, and I think it is safe to say that his influence in the world of horology will long outlive him.

For those who are looking for more informed technical discussion than I offer now, try here or here (both @watchprosite).   While the response is overall positive with a bunch of back-slapping, there is some debate as to whether the Chronometre Optimum, is really optimum!?!  Or are they just splitting hairs at the highest echelon of haute horlogerie? You decide.

FP Journe website, here.