Again, a tourbillon. Again, a limited edition. Something of a 'déjà vu' ? Yes...and no. Because this Tourbillon is like any others, but, in a way, unique.

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The latest creation of F.P. Journe has this special taste of haute horlogerie. Even in Journe's mind, the T30, for 30th anniversary Tourbillon, is a special piece : "without it, I would still be restoring old clocks in Paris", says the wacthmaker. In other words, F.P. Journe, the brand, would still be François-Paul Journe, a watchmaker. Amongst others.

5 insane years

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When he got graduated from the Paris watchmaking school in 1976, Journe decided that he would not only try to do something else than restoring clocks, he would also create watches.

Most of his peers start with a 3-hands watches. That would have been the common sense, above all when Journe himself says that "when you're graduated from a watchmaking school, you're not ready at all to make watches" ! However, he decided to go first with...a tourbillon ! In a way, just like if he was making his first try at climbing starting with the Anapurna.

Not only the master succeeded (in five years !), but today, he would also recommend any apprentice to start with such a complication : "this is a hard way, but the only one to learn. It takes seven to eight years to become just a watchmaker, these five first years are a good way to start", says Journe today.

This very first Tourbillon would have represented a warmly welcomed revenue for the 23-years old boy at the time. Still, Journe decided to keep it for himself ! This very first Tourbillon is still part of his personal collection. But the simple fact that Journe succeeded lead collectors to his workshop. "A movie-maker came first for a commissioned piece", says Journe. "Then a second one, and a third one. I was too happy to realize that it was the beginning of such an adventure. It thought these orders would represent about 10 years of work. It's been 30 years now since I began under my own name".

Perfectly unperfect

When Journe decided to celebrate his first tourbillon, two years ago, he decided that the best way to do it was to be absolutely faithful to it - including mistakes he made at the time ! Journe just decided to switch the pocket watch to a wristwatch, and to replace the type of tourbillon, now with lateral anchor, the previous type being too sensitive to shocks to be found in a wristwatch.

Amongst the mistakes that Journe reproduced, the size of the screws : "I made a mistake in the original Tourbillon 30 years ago", confesses Journe today. "I dug one of the plates too firmly. The little screw I had planned for that specific place was litteraly floatting. I had to use a bigger screw. For obvious aesthetical reasons, I decided to make the whole watch consistent and made each and every hole bigger than it was planned, with larger screws. The T30 today also includes larger screws than required".

The design of the piece was - and is - inspired by the 18th century masters. We can see it in the Breguet hands that Journe used. These hands aren't used any more by the watchmaker, who found his own style along the years. Still, he decided to maintain these hands as they were. Journe only changed the signature of the piece : from "F.P. Journe, à Paris", to "F.P. Journe, Invenit et Fecit".

99 + 10

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Of course, this T30 will be a limited edition : 99 pieces in silver and gold, 10 in platinum with a black dial. These ten units will be available only for one client of each of the ten boutiques of Journe's network. Which client ? "My managers, in each of their boutique, will send me a list of the most faithful clients who have been supporting me for more than 15 years", tells Journe. "We'll pick one of them by chance".

The 99 other pieces will be sold the usual way. Boutiques will be shipped in 10 months. The price of the T30 will be pretty low : 92'400 euros. "I set the price that low to let the as many clients as possible have a chance to get one", states Journe. For a one-shot caliber, hand made, fruit of 2 years of R&D, tourbillon, exclusively dedicated to this specific piece, some other manufactures would easily have asked twice that price.

Visit the F.P. Journe website

Article by Olivier Müller
Images © David Carteron / Delos Communications