Chronomètre Souverain by F.P.Journe, The Sovereign of time.
Presented to the public in 2005, it is the simplest watch in F. P. Journe’s production.
But that doesn’t mean that this project was approached in a superficial manner – this attitude doesn’t exist at Journe. In fact, his watches always feature some fascinating original and ingenious solution, confirming the exceptional nature of his production.
Moreover, we can say that the Souverain is powered by a “noble” movement, since the 1304 calibre, in addition to having won a Geneva GP, is also the hand-wound basis of the Grande Sonnerie, Journe’s award-winning masterpiece, presented the following year.
Let’s take the watch: its platinum case is traditional in its proportions (40mm), with soft lugs that connect with the strap and a slightly rounded bezel. The crown presents an exclusive design with a refined knurling to increase grip.
But, as mechanics enthusiasts, let us begin with the analysis of the sapphire crystal back where the beautiful 1304 calibre movement (13 lines) appears, entirely in 18-carat gold, a characteristic common to all FPJ watches. The finishes are remarkable: the plate has a pelage finish around the balance, a soleillé finish around the barrels, while the bridges have a Côtes-de-Genève finish, and a mirror chamfering process is applied to all the elements.
The very name of this watch is already a statement of its quality: in fact, we can translate it as “the sovereign of chronometers,” and we’ll now explain why.
As always, Journe has approached the design of hand-wound movements in an intelligent way, to try to improve their functioning.
Naturally, to be a precision chronometer, it must indicate the time accurately, so it must be extremely stable while operating. It is not surprising, therefore, that this calibre has a double barrel with two parallel springs said to be “unloaded”, that is, not too tight. This makes the linear thrust possible, since the force difference between the loaded and unloaded springs is not excessive. The balance wheel does not have a balance spring, but the inertia is regulated with weights positioned on the spokes of the balance wheel; in this way, once set, the balance wheel will always keep a constant rate.
The movement appears extremely simple, the aesthetic layout is that of marine chronometers: if we keep the winding crown at 12 o’clock, we find the two barrels with the ratchet connected to the mainspring right in the middle, and just below, perfectly aligned, we find the regulating organ, almost detached from the barrels, separated by a deep groove visible between the bridges. In fact, FP has concealed the connecting parts of the minute track under the dial.
The movement, as mentioned, has a simple look and, in fact, consists of just a few elements (161 components, 22 rubies). According to FP’s philosophy, the fewer elements in a watch, the smoother it will run because putting only a few wheels in motion requires less energy.
Everything in this movement is designed to measure time in the best possible way, precisely to meet the “raison d’etre” of a precision chronometer.
In addition, a hand-wound chronometer needs to warn you when it will stop running properly. That’s why the CS has a power reserve indicator which, like in marine chronometers, shows for how many hours the watch has been running since it was last wound. FP guarantees 56 hours of good functioning. Original, always.
This is the most classic version, with a matt silver dial and platinum case.
The time is displayed at the center of the dial, while the power reserve is at 3 o’clock and the small seconds at 7:30. The dial is a silver plate with a “clous de Paris” guilloché finish. Journe recently told us that guillochage is his favourite finish for dials, reminding him of the watches he loved as a boy. In fact, this finish can be found on the silver counters of his watches since the first Tourbillon in 1999. The dial has hand-applied Arabic numerals, laid on using a silicon pad dipped in glossy black ink – a rare and delicate technique skilfully mastered in his dial factory.
Let’s look at the numerals carefully: you may not have noticed yet, but the numerals have different sizes depending on their position on the dial. This is an optical effect that allows for great aesthetic harmony in an asymmetrical dial, and never cuts off the numerals when they are close to the subdials.
Journe is special, always.
On the Havana model, the dial features a distinctive “dove beige” colour obtained by combining gold and ruthenium, ivory numerals and hands for excellent legibility. Combined with the platinum case and a honey-coloured alligator strap, it looks very different from the previous – elegant and traditional in the layout but with a chromatic harmony that makes it original and beautiful.
Finally, set in a red gold case is a special dial with pink mother-of-pearl inserts on a silver base finely crafted with the clou de Paris technique. Journe’s dial factory (Cadranier de Geneve) specialises in working with mother-of-pearl and produces extremely thin sheets of this natural material suitable for creating precious and timeless dials. This particular version is produced upon request in a very small number, and sold exclusively in Journe’s Boutiques or Espaces.
As stated at the beginning, the CS is not a banal “only-time” watch, but a small masterpiece of mechanics, design and style, perfectly in harmony with Journe’s collections – who remains exceptional, always.