Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo has secured a complete set of F.P. Journe “Souscription” watches for sale at its Geneva Watch Auction: XIV in November 2021.
Even more extraordinary is that every one of the five watches is number 1 of each reference.
How did these five watches come together and find their way to auction?
The story begins 22 years’ ago.
In 1999, after years of restoring antique clocks and watches as well as making unique commission pieces for a handful of collectors, François-Paul Journe set out to create his eponymous brand.
To finance the venture, Journe created 20 tourbillon wristwatches to be sold to existing clients and friends using a subscription (Souscription) system whereby the future owners would pay part of the price of the watch upfront.
When he decided to launch the Chronomètre à Résonance a year later, Mr Journe used the same system and the owners of the tourbillon were also offered a chance to purchase a Résonance, bearing the same number as their tourbillon.
However, unlike with the tourbillon, the limited-edition number was not indicated on the dial.
The first twenty models made in the Octa collection, the Octa Réserve de Marche, Octa Chronographe and Octa Calendrier, were reserved for collectors who had bought the original Tourbillon and Résonance “Souscription” series, and subsequently also called “Souscription” pieces by Journe.
The present set of the five original “Souscription” pieces are consigned by the original owner and bear Number 1, making this set not only incredibly rare and historically important.
They also come to market at a time when prices for F.P. Journe watches have been soaring.
“François-Paul Journe is one of the most talented watchmakers of his generation. In the past few years, his creations have gained incredible traction and now compete with auction behemoths. The word “historic” may have been overused but we cannot find a better term to describe the Souscription Set n°1. These five watches are not only the foundation of Journe’s brand but whose historical importance and relevance as number 1 cannot be underlined enough. It is humbling to hold the Tourbillon n°1 in one’s hand and to think it was the very first watch Journe made to launch his brand. The rest, as they say, is history,” say Aurel Bacs, senior consultant Bacs & Russo and Alexandre Ghotbi, head of watches, Continental Europe and Middle East.
The watches are going to be sold individually in November, which is likely to spark bidding wars for every piece if collectors try to secure all five.
If they sell for their top estimates, the five will hammer for a total of $1.5 million. Much more likely, the full set will have plenty of collectors willing to pay twice of three times those estimates for all five.
F.P. Journe’s famous five
(described by Phillips)
Tourbillon à Remontoir d’Égalité (Platinum): Fascinated by tourbillon watches, Journe decided to transpose Abraham-Louis Breguet’s invention into a wristwatch but also to improve it with the addition of a remontoir system
– a constant force device used to provide an equal amount of energy disregarding the winding level of the mainspring, thus resulting in greater accuracy and amplitude. The first prototype was completed in 1991 and revisited in 1999 for his first serially produced wristwatch.
Estimate CHF 300,000-600,000
Chronomètre à Résonance (Platinum and pink gold): Since its launch in 2000, the Résonance has become one of contemporary horology’s most iconic pieces. Inspired by the work of the great 18th century watchmaker Antide Janvier, Journe rose to the challenge in 1983 and created a pocket-watch using the resonance phenomenon and launched a wristwatch 17 years later.
It was the world’s first wristwatch to use the resonance phenomenon whereby the movement is composed of two independent balances, alternatively serving as an “exciter” and “resonator”.
When in motion, the balances create the resonance effect and beat in opposition, naturally evening out each other’s discrepancies and thus permitting greater accuracy. The present model is one of only three Résonance “Souscription” pieces in platinum and pink gold with a white gold dial.
Estimate CHF 200,000-400,000
Octa Collection (Platinum)
According to Journe, the development of his first automatic movement for the Octa collection was a real challenge partly in terms of chronometry and timekeeping, but also in terms of respect of day- to-day comfort. He thus devised a caliber with an eight-day power-reserve that could incorporate many future complications within the same volume. An incredible challenge as, regardless of complications, the Octa caliber maintains its original dimensions.
Three watches in the Octa collection on sale are:
Octa Réserve de Marche — Estimate CHF 50,000-100,000.
Octa Chronographe, Estimate CHF 100,000-200,000.
Octa Calendrier, Estimate CHF 80,000-160,000.