Is Your Wristwatch a “Wrist” Watch? An Insider’s Look at F.P. Journe (Part 3)

From 1910 to 1920, the Swiss industry had hunches on where the market for timekeepers would lead them: pocketwatches or the new craze, wristwatches. In what we call the “conversion era,” Swiss watchmakers basically rotated their pocketwatches by 90 degrees, added lugs and voilà: here was your wristwatch.

But by doing so, watches were now confronted with a new issue: the movement of the wrist. As you move your wrist, due to centrifugal (or inversely centripetal) forces, balance wheels have a tendency to go faster (more precisely, have a larger amplitudes) or inversely, thus affecting the accuracy of the watch.

Resonance Movement
Resonance Movement

As usual with François-Paul Journe, this idea had been on his mind for some time. As far back as 1984, he attempted to confront the issue with his first resonance watch.

Francois-Paul Journe resonance movement in his 3rd watch (1984)
Francois-Paul Journe resonance movement in his third watch (1984)

Journe attempted to include this system in a wristwatch, inspired by his masters (in this case, Antide Janvier and Abraham Louis Breguet, who made six pendulum clocks using the resonance phenomenon. One Janvier clock is in Mr. Journe’s office; another one is at the Patek Philippe Museum).

What is resonance? It is an acoustic principle: put a watch to your ear and you hear a “tick tock.” Energy has been released in an acoustic form. It makes the air vibrate until your ear membrane absorbs it and gives your brain the information.

There is an emitter (the watch movement) and a receiver (your ear). So the “tick-tock” is proof of energy being released but not used. In the F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, you have a double movement with two balance wheels that are both emitters and receivers. It is a law of physics that when two sources produce energy, if they are on the same frequency, they will communicate. Each “talks” and each “listens.” And nature makes it so that they balance each other in opposition.

In real life, what happens? If a truck passes nearby creating a lot of noise, or if there is a shock, the vibration will modify the balance of the escapement. As the energy received by both balance wheels are in opposition, one will go faster, one slower. As they “resonate” they will balance each other,  therefore nullifying the shock/perturbation.

To quote Jack Forster in his article, “In Plain Sight: Revealing The Secrets Of F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance” (2014): “the Résonance is constructed along exactly these principles [those explained in George Daniels’ book: The Art of Breguet, p. 76].  The balances are free-sprung (with no regulator) and regulation is through the use of weights to vary the inertia of the balances.  As with Breguet’s resonance pocketwatches, the adjustable masses used for regulation are inside the rim of the balance (in the case of Journe’s watches, on the arms).  Breguet’s notes on pendulum clocks are detailed and he notes that the two oscillators have to be closely regulated to each other for a resonance effect to occur.” How close? If you pay attention to the movement on the left, you have a screw that can be adjusted to bring closer (or make further apart) the two balance wheels.

Note also that with all F.P. Journe watches the balance wheels have the weights on the outside for ergonomic reasons, but in the case of the Résonance, there was no other way.


Also, when one moves one’s wrist, one balance wheel will go faster while the other one will go slower. As they “resonate,” they will readjust themselves and therefore compensate for the movement — making the Résonance the only “true” wristwatch. As Lavoisier said: “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.”

Proof? As Anthony G. Randall explains in his article, “Anthony G. Randall discusses F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre à Resonance” (F.P. Journe’s Chronometre a Resonance ) “a remarkable demonstration of resonance being achieved [is by] using a Witschi timing machine. This machine is able to produce a diagram of the sound of the lever escapement. With two escapements working simultaneously, but not exactly in phase initially, two similar diagrams appear close together. Gradually, as resonance occurs, the two diagrams merge into one. The combined rate then appears as a straight line.”

For those in doubt, please see this experiment of synchronizing 32 metronomes at Resonance and Communications.

The seconds hands (as seen below) will always show the same position.

Dial of the Resonance
Dial of the Résonance

Because there is a double movement, it allows the user to set two different times on each of the dials. There is much debate on what makes a watch a true world timer. Obviously the resonance offers much more than a GMT (which only partitions time in one-hour increments over 24 hours). But many countries never adhered to the 1884 Washington International Meridian conference. Countries such as Australia use a half-hour increment. Nepal is UTC +5:45!

Here you may set two different times that are totally independent — except that their seconds will be in sync.

FP Journe Chronometre a Resonance

Read also our previous insider’s looks:

Power or Precision? An Insider’s look at F.P. Journe – Part 1

Who Needs Constant Force? An Insider’s look at F.P. Journe – Part 2

To view the movement:

For more information,

Or visit or contact one of our F.P. Journe Boutiques:

Bal Harbour Shops Mall at +1 305 993 4747; [email protected]

Los Angeles: +1 310 294 8585; [email protected]

New York: +1 212 644 5918;  [email protected]

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