Independent watch brands have traditionally been reserved for the most ardent, hardcore collectors, with most normal people staying away from it. There are probably several reasons for this, including, designs that are sometimes over the top, but the biggest factor that has always kept the masses away is unpredictability. You see, independent brands are famously known to make a big impact for a short amount of time, producing crazy, ahead of time pieces at outrageous prices. Don’t get me wrong, it was and still is, the independents that really drive innovation in this industry, but very often, watchmakers are not good businessmen. With brands such as Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis, Franck Muller or even as recently as Peter Speake Marin, these were all incredible brands that fell into bad partnerships and bad accounting. Today, the aforementioned brands have lost their original founders and have been gobbled up by big conglomerates churning out painfully ugly derivatives of their original creations.
Well, I am sure you know where I am going with this. F.P. Journe is a brand that has really been the exception to the rule and is currently at its peak of demand. He has somehow managed to penetrate the mass market, with any watch guy knowing and desiring an F.P. Journe, while maintaining his status as an avant-garde independent watchmaker. This of course has everything to do with his fantastic eye for design and his amazing calibres – with his more traditional approach to design easier to accept than most others.
While F.P. Journe has quite a large repertoire of models, the one that perhaps is his most iconic is the Chronomètre À Résonance (Pictured above is the 2018 Chronomètre À Résonance with the Calibre 1499.3). Introduced 20 years ago, it has seen a few iterations in its dial design but has mostly maintained the same 1499 calibre and last year Journe said that there will be a whole new watch this year with a brand new movement. To state that F.P. Journe has fans would be huge understatement as it is more akin to teenagers lining outside the Supreme shop for their latest drop. I, of course am one of the fan boys and I too was excited for the new Résonance.
There are plenty of articles that explains how the Résonance works in depth, but as a brief explanation, you will notice that all Résonance models have two balance wheels. The phenomenon of mechanical Résonance is a physical principle where two oscillating balances in a single movement sync up, cancelling out each other’s inaccuracies by energy transference. So basically, F.P. Journe’s idea was to create a watch displaying the phenomenon of Résonance in pursuit of increased chronometry. This is truly something that Journe popularised and mastered and it is for that very reason that it will forever be his magnum opus.
The new Résonance, to most will look pretty much the same with a slightly different dial layout and movement, but there is so much more going on. Featuring the new calibre 1520 in rose gold, the biggest difference to the movement is that it now contains a single barrel powering both mainsprings, rather than 2 on the 1499. In theory, a singular power source would distribute power more evenly, hence improving the syncing up better. Another change to the new Résonance is that it now features another one of Journe’s now signatures, a one second remontoir d’egalite for each clock, another feature that provides power in a more even and sustained way.
Aesthetically, the case shape remains at 40 or 42mm, of which I would recommend the 40 with one change. I have owned several Résonances and one of the annoying things about it was the crown at 12 o’clock which was used to set the two clocks. It was so thin and hard that often times, the user would have to remove the strap and wind the watch. The new case now has its crown at a more accessible 2 o’clock.
Overall, I do think this is a worthy evolution of such an iconic watch and as I am in touch with many Journe collectors, they are absolutely in love with it and believe that it is in line with Journe’s philosophy. The old Résonances are continuing to climb in price and with this new example out, I will not be surprised if the demand outstrips the supply by a lot. Right now, Journe is the man that can do no wrong, and I sincerely hope that he continues to be a beacon of light in the independent watch scene. Bravo.
The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, 2020 comes cased in platinum or 18k 6N rose gold and is available in 40mm or 42mm; thickness, 11mm. It will retail at approx. €97,000 in 18k rose gold; €100,000 in platinum. Production is limited but this is not a limited edition and is expected in F.P. Journe boutiques from mid-2020. Find out more about the 2020 Chronomètre à Résonance with the new caliber 1520 at fpjourne.com.