F.P. Journe Chronométre Optimum & Anniversary Memories
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  1. #1
    Watchuseek Editor JMunchow's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, GA

    F.P. Journe Chronométre Optimum & Anniversary Memories

    “Hello honey, how was your day?” he says as he walks through the door.

    “It was fine, but I was so anxious I found it hard to focus on my work! I bet you were the same…” she jests with a wink and a smile.

    “Oh, my day was great, and now I am just excited to be able to come home and relax tonight.”

    “What do you mean relax?” she says in an incredibly stern voice. He can see she isn’t smiling any longer.

    “Um, well, I was just thinking a long shower and watching that episode of Glee on the DVR sounded nice, why are you scowling?” He stands there, beginning to sweat as he searches his mind for what could be going on.

    “Just like last year, Frank, just like last year.” She stands there tapping her foot and waiting for the light bulb to go on in Frank’s head. Just then she sees his face shift. Ding, there it is, she can see his understanding turn to horror at the thought of it. “What day is it Frank?”

    “Son of a mongoose, it’s the 17th. Should I just sleep on the couch tonight?”

    Hopefully this exchange isn’t familiar for anyone reading this but I fear it might be all too familiar and fresh for some. If you see where this is headed then you already know the outcome, but for those still (blissfully) ignorant, it’s the moment that signals the next 2 months of “winter” in the bedroom and you doing extra chores around the house. It’s the moment that begins a week’s worth of flower deliveries and heartfelt apology notes. It’s the dreaded moment when you forget your anniversary.

    Anniversaries are kind of a big deal, well, at least to those who are sentimental. I am, a lot of other people are, but some people just don’t get wrapped up in all of that. There’s nothing wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with your significant other thinking Die Hard is stupid or that an old flannel shirt isn’t what she meant when she said “just put on something nice.” Regardless of your viewpoint on the validity of Die Hard as one of the best action flicks ever, anniversaries happen all the time and many are celebrated with friends, families, or loyal customers. Oh yes, companies love anniversaries too!

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    Random Language history-nerd side note: The word anniversary refers to an annual event occurring on the same day of the year and was first used by the Catholic Church for feasts to commemorate Saints.

    The 30th anniversary of Ford brought us the 1933 Model 40B coupe, a favorite (along with the ‘32 Model 18B) of hot rodders everywhere. What better than a beautiful car to mark a special occasion? The 50th anniversary Mustang is due out soon as well. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Superman, from DC Comics, and his adventures saving the world. But how about this, in 2011 Switzerland had its 720th anniversary! That is some serious staying power, for any country. You know what strikes me as funny, 720 is exactly how many degrees an hour hand marches in one day, twice around the dial. Hmm, must just be a coincidence!

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    In Switzerland, there are many anniversaries to be aware of, but the one that is freshest in the watch world’s mind right now is that of F.P. Journe and his 30th anniversary. A lot of you may have seen his 30th anniversary piece he just released last week, the Historical Anniversary Tourbillon. It is a marvelous piece, completely beautiful in its execution. As much as I love it, it reminds me of another F.P. Journe piece that I have wanted to discuss for a while, the Chronométre Optimum!

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    The Chronométre Optimum is one of the most stunning examples of what F.P. Journe is all about. Top notch finishing, beautiful design in the dial, case, and movement, but most importantly, incredible watchmaking prowess. The Chronométre Optimum has features that Francois-Paul has wanted to put into a wristwatch since he was asked in the late 1980’s what watch he would make for himself. Not having the tools or the knowhow at that point it became something of a personal quest that he intended to do when the moment was right. In 2001 he began the project officially and over the next 11 years of trial and error, innovation and intuition, and never ceasing persistence the Chronométre Optimum was released in 2012 to much fanfare for the world renowned watchmaker and brand.

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    Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what makes this watch so freaking awesome! First off we have something I have touched on before and what makes up the last of the holy trinity of the constant force mechanisms, the Remontoir d’Egalitè. Up until a few years ago, there were 3 main ways to achieve (more or less) constant force: The Fusee and chain, the long forgotten Stackfreed mechanism, and the Remontoir d’Egalitè. Of these mechanisms, the most pertinent to today’s watches is the Remontoir dEgalitè because it does not focus on issues with the mainspring torque curve but instead focuses on simply getting consistent power to the balance wheel.

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    To complete this task, a small spring is added to a set of gears between the mainspring and the escapement. The escapement is technically uncoupled from the rest of the gear train through this set of gears and spring (the remontoir) so that this small spring provides the actual force to the balance wheel. The small spring is wound or “charged” (depending on the design) once a second by the mainspring and transfers its energy to another gear train that meshes with the escapement wheel pinion. This allows for a more controlled distribution of energy per beat than with a traditional mainspring-only driven system. Click for a video of it in action! (The lever coming from the right is actually the spring)

    --> Remontoir d’Egalitè <--

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    Man, that is some snazzy gearing! If you didn’t catch the gist, watch it a few times and trace how the gears move. I had to do that to make sure I knew how this one worked myself! After that, how could it get any better? Oh, with a bi-axial escapement of course. Now this is not to be confused with the Daniels Co-axial escapement, no this escapement uses two escape wheels side by side drastically reducing the force and friction on each pallet stone and eliminating the need for lubrication at this point. That, by the way, is one of the main places where friction directly affects the rate of a timepiece. The bi-axial escapement does this by having two pallet stones in contact with the escape wheels at once, halving the force on each, and making it so that they are barely resting on the escape wheels at all! Francois-Paul likes to say that “instead of touching, it is more like caressing the escapement wheel.” Well isn’t that romantic! Take a look at the “caressing” in action, click through-

    --> Bi-axial Escapement <--

    To watch the full video click HERE to hit up that Tube place that You go to…

    The final part of the Chronométre Optimum that makes for a more accurate and consistent timepiece is something that many watches have used for a long time and isn’t actually much of a surprise, double mainspring barrels. This setup has been used successfully by many watchmakers to increase the stability and longevity of the mainspring power by flattening out the torque curves even farther than they already are with modern mainsprings. This configuration reduces friction and wear on the main gear as the force is balance on each side, and also increases the life of the pivots as the force will not be from a single side. That is a very efficient use of a simple solution to maximize life in parts where high wear is an issue.

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    All of these things combine to make a beautiful movement that is a blast to watch, because the Remontoir d’Egalitè naturally becomes a dead-beat seconds as well, there is even more to watch! Taking advantage of this, F.P. Journe added a second’s hand and register on the rear of the movement that moves naturally in counter-clockwise motion. Just thinking that flipping over the watch gives you a second dial for free makes me giggle with excitement! Granted you won’t know the exact time, but in this case who cares? I know I won’t, I’ll just want to stare at the mechanism ‘doin it’s thang!’ Ahem, sorry, I slipped into my watch den lingo. It won’t happen again.

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    To me, the Chronométre Optimum isn’t just a watchmaker’s watch though. Just take a look at that dial.

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    Take a look at that case.

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    Take a look at those slender shaped hands.

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    Heck, take a look at that crown!

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    This is a beautiful watch by any objective standards, and no matter what it had beneath its dial it would remain so. It’s classic and modern all at once, asymmetrically balanced, sensually shaped hands, and a typeface that doesn’t tell you but invites you to read. Oh, alas I gaze from far away at the beauty of your face, and if sweet luck I do receive, I’ll feel your warm embrace! Don’t tell Francois-Paul I said that, I wouldn’t want it to get weird or something.

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    Maybe we should just move on to the fun part- The Breakdown!

    • Wowza Factor – 9.0 A longtime F.P. Journe fan, this watch struck me like all others, as beauty incarnate. But once I saw the movement, it sealed the deal!
    • Late Night Lust Appeal – 65gn » 637.432m/s2 The Chronométre Optimum has some serious weight behind it. The history of Francois-Paul, the history of the brand, and the technology behind this piece makes me feel over 9 times the pressure of the Apollo astronauts on re-entry!
    • M.G.R. – 63 A great rating for a very solid movement. Remontoir d’Egalitè, bi-axial escapement, I even drool when I see the finishing and my heart matches that Remontoir d’Egalitè beating once every second!
    • Added-Functionitis – Severe Power reserve indicator, Remontoir d’Egalitè and a dead-beat seconds register that runs counter clockwise! I think this surely calls for doctor prescribed ‘Gotta-HAVE-That’ cream for that dangerous complication induced swelling!
    • Clams Per Pound – $150,000 The Chronométre Optimum is another addition to my grail list, so of course I would be happy to pay almost double! (I would also have to convince one of the surely resolute owners to go insane and think it’s a good idea to part with this watch)
    • Ouch Outline – 8.5 – Shaving the wrong way with a dull rusty razor blade. That gives me shivers just thinking about it. I hate shaving, ever since working at that supermarket where I was forced to be clean shaven every day. But to own this piece, I would gladly shave every day, the wrong way, with a rusty blade… oh and with no shaving cream if it meant the Chronométre Optimum would be there waiting to be strapped to my wrist.
    • Mermaid Moment – 4.3 seconds (Or the length of time to properly pronounce Remontoir d’Egalitè) If you love precision and you love tradition, then this piece would make you write your vows and take the leap with that beautiful sea creature once you could pronounce the crown jewel in the movement!

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    Check out F.P. Journe if you are unfamiliar with his work. Of course if you are, keep enjoying! I love his style and the achievements he has made when it comes to technical aspects staying beautiful are wonderful, I look forward to more of his work in the future.

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    As usual all of the images are not owned by me and found freely on the interwebs.

    I hope you enjoyed my return to high end pieces and you will join me again next week! Have a great day and DFTBA!

    Cheers & Happy Watching,

    Last edited by JMunchow; October 21st, 2013 at 14:24.

  2. #2
    Member seanwontreturn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Asia - HK, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai

    Re: F.P. Journe Chronométre Optimum & Anniversary Memories

    Dont make me look at it for one more second, i dont want to be killed by my wife for sth i do for it...

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