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Jedi

F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain

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The Chronometre Souverain, a manual winding watch, was presented in 2006 by the brand F.P. Journe - Invenit et Fecit. Helmed by its namesake, Francois Paul Journe, it an independent brand, and a complete Manufacture. Every watch is assembled in their Geneva factory, located right in the heart of the city. The motto of the brand means 'invented and made' in French, and to date, every timepiece by them has been conceived of and developed in-house. Monsier Journe himself designs the dials and then designs a movement to fit the dial, thereby guaranteeing full creative control and mastery of the movement. It should be noted that currently, all FPJ watches contain movements crafted from 18k rose gold.

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This particular reference is modeled on vintage pocket watches and inspired by French marine chronometers. The power reserve complication at 3 o'clock reads 0 when fully wound and the increasing numbers tell the elapsed time since the watch was last 're-chardged'. A whimsical and fun touch to an elegant piece, derived from a valid historical precedent.

The simplicity of the dial stands out, and upon closer inspection, one finds that the various elements such as power reserve indicator, seconds subdial, are located on their own level, creating an impression of depth and subtle complexity. The textured finish of the centre of the dial is refined and perfectly aligned. Made from a solid disc of silver, the dial is hand painted and inspected individually. The blued steel hands are steeped in haute horlogerie tradition, and possess a form devised by Journe himself, a signature of sorts across his entire range of watches.

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The above result in a clear, uncluttered dial, with great readability and harmonious proportions. The arrangement of the various elements are indicative of a high sense of aesthetics. Note the way in which the arabic numerals travel around the dial, diminishing in size around the seconds dial. It also ends up with two '9's on the dial, as the '6' is presented in the same orientation as all other numbers. This 'quirk' was pointed out to Journe early on, but he stuck with it out of a conviction for the completeness of the circle.

Now on to the case. We are talking here about a solid chunk of platinum. Platinum is unique in that it is 'whiter' than white gold, does not require Rhodium plating as it is more durable than white gold and when it scratches, one does not actually remove any of the metal, it is merely displaced. This particular characteristic of platinum is much vaunted by its promoters, enhancing the image of 'the eternal metal'.

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In terms of finishing, this little puppy is bred for the show. The lines are crisp and transitions seamless. Polishing of platinum to this degree is seen as craftsmanship of the highest order, and woe betide he who scratches such a case as the repair work will take simply ages to complete. There is a sense of depth under all lighting conditions, and under certain angles, the platinum reflects nothing back, making it feel as if one is staring into a void in space.

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With the slight downturn of the perfectly machined lugs, the comfort factor of this timepiece is incredible. Combine this with one of this watch's most understated features, being its thinness, we end up with a case that is weighty due to its material and movement, but yet incredibly slim at 6.3mm.

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Time to get to the heart of the matter. The movement beating away inside is the totally in-house designed and built Caliber 1304, with 22 jewels and adjusted in 6 positions. To start, most haute horlogerie movements are adjusted to only 5 positions. The movement itself is only 3mm or so thick. The escapement itself appears to float by itself, beating away while seemingly unattached to the running train. This is one of the innovations behind the Chronometre Souverain, the other being a precision movement designed to keep accurate time utilising a compact and novel design. The balance ring is also larger than most, helping to contribute to more accurate timekeeping, while beating at 21,600vph, a slower rate than most intended to prolong the life of the assembly. The twin barrels provide it with 56 hours running time, but the main purpose of the twin barrels is to provide consistent torque to the escapement under all states of being wound. This translates to consistency in timekeeping so long as the movement has some wind left in it.

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The quality of the finishing is exceptional, and would easily qualify for the Geneva Seal certification if Journe had thought to submit his movements for such scrutiny. He also does not care for COSC, preferring to rely on his own methods to test and guarantee the performance of each timepiece. My particular example of this reference keeps time to the astonishing precision of +1sec/week.

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I have owned this watch since February and can safely say it is one of my all time favourite pieces. It does nothing but tell the time, with an added useful complication of a power reserve indicator, itself located in a most unconventional location, yet working so beautifully as part of the overall aesthetic composition. It is extremely comfortable to wear, and when I'm home, it often takes it place in the evening when I lay my Rolex down for the day. While it offers a 56 hour power reserve, it is a joy to wind it each morning, as if it's a reminder to spool up for the day ahead so to speak. The importance of this piece in my collection is further emphasised by the fact that I got to meet it's inventor, and the watchmaker who assembled it from scratch, and had the watch presented to me by Journe himself. I was also offered a choice of case number, and I chose 814 due to the significance of 8 being a lucky number for the Chinese, and 14 because I confirmed the purchase of the piece on 14 February during my honeymoon. F.P. Journe as a brand only makes about 800 pieces in total a year, and to have been there when 2 pieces were getting ready to be packed for shipment was just totally awesome.

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Lee:

What a fabulous write-up. I felt like I was reading an eloquent novel with correct syntax and polish. You definitely did the watch justice and I am green with envy. What an absolutely stunning watch. The fit and finish are superb and an awesome site to behold. The movement is incredible and a true piece of art. Plus, to be presented the watch by the master himself must have been quite the honor. Along with being able to pick out your own number was equally as special.

Congratulations and Thank-you for posting here. I may never own such a magnificent timepiece but I can come here and drool over yours.

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Terry Newton

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Thanks Terry and Thani.

I'm very grateful to the team here at TRF for tolerating other brands and providing an avenue for sharing and learning.

One more thing about the Journe that I forgot to mention in the review:

Note the curved springbar for the strap. It makes for a very elegant interface with the case. There are not many examples of such an interface out there at the moment and it's pretty cool.

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Your experience with this watch is so inspiring. I've tried on the CS twice, and was absolutely stunned by its beauty and craftsmanship. I hope to be able to own one at some point.

Thank you again!

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Best,

Howard

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Thought I'll just bump this wonderful post right up. I have actually added this link/post to my favs for a while as I was contemplating to make a purchase of this wonderful timepiece. This post did contribute a part in making my decision much easier, and here I am, wearing my 38mm platinum CS typing this post, replying to this thread. Jedi deserves a huge thanks from me for this wonderful write-up. Reading it again makes me appreciate my CS even more... Thanks!

Btw, Jedi, is yours a 38mm or 40mm?

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Fantastic write up Jedi! Simply great. Thanks for taking the time to write such an accurate and detailed review of your F.P. Journe timepiece. Your pictures were terrific as well. I especially liked the harmony and balance of the movement and dial. A very well crafted masterpiece. Much appreciation once again for sharing.

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Congratulations Quarks! I'm glad you picked one up. Mine is a 38mm and since the time of the original post here, it's been worn on many occasions and picked up one or two reminder markings (read scratches and dings) since. Sadly I'm not one to baby my watches.

There's another thread elsewhere on TRF where I posted pictures of the Manufacture where I picked up the watch from M. Journe and the watchmaker who built my watch, Alexis. Ahhh, memories. I think it's time to wind her up and strap her on!

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Awesome! Thanks Jedi! Mine is 38mm as well. I have tried on 40mm several times and I kept passing on it as it didnt look 'right' on my wrist. A beauty it was but it never spoke to me as much as 38mm. And when I strap the 38mm on, I knew that was IT! Just have to pull that trigger. Here are some pics to share.... (incl. a resonance movement..)

Mine has its own share of scratches but oh well, the joy of strapping on definitely outweighs the surfaces marks on the watch.

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Quarks, Congratulations

You have a superb looking timepiece and I now wish that while I was in London last week, I had taken the chance to look at one.

Lee, thanks so much for brining it to our attention in the first place.

I shall now try and find your other thread.

Beautiful photos from you both.

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Nice number there Quarks :thumbup:

They are great watches, both the CS and the Resonance. I love the absolute deceptive simplicity of the CS movement... notice how the escapement seems totally removed from the rest of the going train?

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There's another thread elsewhere on TRF where I posted pictures of the Manufacture where I picked up the watch from M. Journe and the watchmaker who built my watch, Alexis. Ahhh, memories. I think it's time to wind her up and strap her on!

Hi Lee

I couldn't find your link, to the other thread.

Would you please link it to this thread, so that I can read it.

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Hey Tony,

I know you've been thinking about Journes for a while now.

Do share or update us, better yet... start a Quest for Journe thread!

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mate, and all the best with the watch!!

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