Chrono24 continuously compares the market performance of thousands of watches. The biggest surprise of the second quarter of 2021 was a quartz watch from the brand F.P. Journe. So, what makes this watch so special and why do collectors from across the globe want to own one?
Extraordinary watches often come with extraordinary stories. F.P. Journe shares a history with François-Paul Journe, one of the most remarkable industry figures in the last 30 years. His brilliant, often challenging character is reflected in his watches. F.P. Journe creations have received countless accolades from the industry and watch enthusiasts alike. However, the biggest surprise is that the brand’s most popular creation is a quartz timepiece. Let’s find out more about the F.P. Journe Élégante, a watch that saw an 85% price increase on Chrono24’s marketplace in Q2 2021 – and the price is still on the up.
François-Paul Journe: The Man Behind the F.P. Journe Brand
To understand the F.P. Journe brand, you must first understand the man himself. It’s not every day that you see the personality of a watchmaker so strongly reflected in the watch itself. Journe was born in Marseille in 1957. Although his parents had nothing to do with watchmaking (his father was a salesman and his mother, a civil servant), Journe’s uncle was a watchmaker. Journe learned watchmaking at the Horological School of Paris, and began working for his uncle immediately after graduation.
His uncle’s workshop was a special place that allowed Journe to become familiar with the works of famous clockmakers like Breguet and Janvier. It gave him a chance to experience the intricacies of classic watch- and clockmaking, and even included work on marine chronometers. But it was the mentoring from legendary watchmaker George Daniels that pushed Journe to become a watchmaker. This experience laid the perfect foundation for his later creations.
F.P. Journe Watchmaking
Journe’s approach to watchmaking is based on solving technical conundrums. His creations have always sought to find creative solutions for difficult problems that occur with timepieces. First and foremost, his technical solutions must work, but they are also coupled with breathtaking execution and finishing. Over the years, F.P. Journe has taken on and addressed challenges such as resonance synchronization, constant force, chronometric precision, and even gravity. All of this makes F.P. Journe one of the top names in international haute horlogerie, which is perfectly represented by the brand’s motto Invenit et Fecit, Latin for “[He] invented it and made it.”
F.P. Journe: The Brand
Journe’s unique and uncompromising approach to watchmaking has attracted a dedicated group of watch collectors seeking alternatives to the familiar high-end brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and A. Lange & Söhne. F.P. Journe is independent and a true collector’s brand (it maintains just ten very exclusive boutiques around the world). It has a dedicated following of enthusiasts in the United States that have put F.P. Journe on the watch collecting map.
This has generated increasing notoriety and interest in the brand. But F.P. Journe watches are not available to everyone who would like to purchase one. With a limited production of 800 pieces annually, and prices between $35,000 and $220,000, it is very much an exclusive brand. There is, however, one exception to this rule: the entry-level F.P. Journe Élégante collection, which offers timepieces starting around $13,000. That being said, prices for some Élégante timepieces on Chrono24 have increased to over $40,000 – for quartz watch? Really?
F.P. Journe: The Timepieces
To make sense of those prices, we need to take a step back and look at Journe’s watchmaking. Over the years, the watchmaker has unveiled a number of technical solutions to great critical acclaim. He is the only three-time winner of the Aiguille d’Or grand prize from the Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. F.P. Journe is also a fully integrated manufacturer, meaning that every single component is made in-house in one of the brand’s two facilities in Geneva. From the case and dial to the hands and movement, each and every part is produced and assembled in-house.
As mentioned, F.P. Journe currently produces 800 timepieces annually across six different collections: the Classique, Linesport, Élégante, Jewellery, Boutique, and Black Label. There is also a special limited series of particularly unique timepieces. Every single F.P. Journe watch is characterized by technological superiority, a signature look, and incredible finishing. So, now let’s take a closer look at the F.P. Journe Élégante.
The F.P. Journe Élégante 48
The timepiece that is currently attracting the most interest from watch fans is the F.P. Journe Élégante 48. As is the case with every F.P. Journe creation, the Élégante was developed with a creative technical solution in mind. You might be thinking, “Quartz? Isn’t luxury watchmaking about the wonders of mechanical timepieces?” Well, Journe doesn’t think so. For him, the art of watchmaking is about solving problems for all timekeeping instruments, whether it’s a clock, pocket watch, or wristwatch, both mechanical and quartz. In the case of the Élégante, Journe sought to address the issue of limited battery life for quartz watches.
The quartz caliber 1210 has a battery life lasting up to 18 years, if worn as part of a rotating watch collection. The solution is simple in theory, and incredibly innovative in its execution. The timepiece has a motion detector in its dial that recognizes whether the watch is being used or not. If the watch has not moved for 35 minutes, it goes into an energy-saving “sleep” mode, while its microprocessor continues to keep the time. When you pick the watch up again, it senses that it’s being used and its hands automatically reset to the current time via the shortest route (clockwise or counterclockwise). Seeing the watch in action is truly stunning. It’s an innovative solution to a very practical problem.
The Élégante 48 has a 48 x 40 mm polished and brushed titanium flat tortue® case. There are also cases that feature the exclusive Titalyt® treatment. Both cases are available set with 418 brilliant-cut diamonds. While a 48-mm diameter may sound hefty at first, this watch wears significantly smaller thanks to its elegant case shape and slim profile. A “hidden” feature is the luminescent sapphire dial. Every millimeter of this incredibly lightweight watch has been executed and finished to the highest standard in watchmaking. The watch’s rubber strap is available in a number of different colors.
The F.P. Journe Élégante 48 is a truly special quartz watch. Its unique combination of elegant appearance, technical brilliance, and exceptional execution has made it very popular. Additionally, the Élégante line represents the most affordable timepieces the brand has to offer, as well as the highest production numbers. Current demand has resulted in asking prices up to four times the official list price. Hard to believe? Well, when it comes to F.P. Journe, nothing is impossible.