Historical F.P. Journe Tourbillon Marks 30 Years of Independent Watchmaking

F.P. Journe Anniversary TourbillonThirty years ago, 20-year-old French watchmaking prodigy Francois-Paul Journe completed his pet project: a pocketwatch with a handmade tourbillon, in an era in which that 19th-century horological invention was virtually forgotten. This year, Journe celebrates the anniversary with a wristwatch version of that groundbreaking timepiece, the F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon.

The new wristwatch, a re-interpretation of the original pocketwatch that Journe finished in 1983, breaks with the traditions of most current F.P. Journe watches by using the same materials used in that original pocketwatch — silver with guilloché for the case, 4N rose gold for the front and back bezels, and traditional brass for the tourbillon movement. (Most of the watches from Journe’s eponymous brand use gold for the movements.)

The watch has a transparent sapphire caseback revealing the classically constructed tourbillon movement, made in grained and gilded brass just like that of the 1983 pocketwatch. Two parallel barrels distribute energy to a wheels train, arranged in the axis of the watch, which runs the tourbillon’s one-minute revolutions. The lateral pallet escapement, which is more compatible with a wristwatch, replaces the pocketwatch’s detent escapement, and a winding crown at 3 o’clock replaces the old-fashioned key winding system of the original timepiece.

F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon - front
Front (above) and side view (below) of the F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon

F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon - side

Made in the workshops of F.P. Journe’s small manufacture, located in the city of Geneva, the watch’s movement features high-quality components, with elaborate polishing, beveling and a level of finishing that wasn’t possible three decades ago when Journe was making the pocketwatch he refers to as his “baby.”

The movement, which closely resembles its predecessor, is protected by a caseback cover made of silver and adorned with a striking guilloché pattern. Other echoes of the original watch include the dial, which is made of grained silver and engraved with filled Roman numerals and a steel hour circle, and the blued steel, Breguet-style hour and minute hands, another stylistic departure from the F.P. Journe brand identity, which includes its own very distinctive hand design.

F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon - caliber
The brass tourbillon movement (above) is protected by a silver guilloche caseback (below).
F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon - back

The F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon, which Journe calls a “thank you” to his 30-year-old brand’s most loyal customers, is limited to 99 pieces, and priced at $99,000. It was seen for the first time in Tokyo on October 18, which also marked the 10th Anniversary of the first F.P. Journe Boutique.

F.P. Journe tourbillon pocketwatch - front
The new watch’s inspiration: Journe’s tourbillon pocketwatch from 1983, front (above) and back (below)
F.P. Journe Tourbillon pocketwatch - back