The Pursuit Of Chronometric Perfection

F.P.Journe’s Chronomètre Optimum epitomizes the very essence of precision for a wristwatch.

As a watchmaker, François-Paul Journe’s track record for innovation and mechanical ingenuity is unparalleled. The three-time winner of the industry’s highest honor, the Aiguille d’Or, really needs no introduction. From the Astronomic Souveraine to the Chronomètre à Résonance, F.P.Journe’s creations are testimony to the deep, lasting impact the independent watchmaker has etched on contemporary Haute Horlogerie.

When it comes to timekeeping accuracy, one timepiece in particular has come to epitomize the very essence of the precision wristwatch—the Chronomètre Optimum.

The origins of this watch hark back to the 1980s when a youthful and idealistic Journe began obsessing over the “ideal” wristwatch. Even then, he knew exactly what it would be. Minimalist. Simple. A time-only watch with just a power reserve indicator. The Chronomètre Optimum’s synthesis of simplicity and precision would later serve as a fundamental pillar of F.P.Journe’s chronometric research. Many years would nevertheless have to pass before the young watchmaker would be in a position to turn concept into reality.

“The basic premise was to make a watch with less internal friction, a constant force on the escapement to ensure isochronism, and an escapement without lubrication to ensure stability,” says Journe.

The premise may have been basic but delivering on chronometric perfection demanded the watchmaker leverage and build on the knowledge base and technical expertise of past masters such as Breguet, Berthoud and Janvier while simultaneously driving new technological solutions of his own.

What he finally achieved was nothing short of horological brilliance. For starters, Journe knew his new movement would have twin mainspring barrels mounted in parallel. This layout ensured power delivery would be stable. Next, he created a constant-force mechanism called the Remontoir d’Égalité. This mechanism comprised an intermediate spring that equalized the forces acting on the escapement, further enhancing power transmission stability.

The idea that followed was nothing short of revolutionary. Instead of the traditional lubricated escapement wheel, Journe developed a system that used two escapement wheels. This design would come to be known as the High-Performance Bi-axial Escapement or EBHP. Put simply, a two-wheel system meant frictional forces could now be distributed rather than concentrated, thereby enabling the escapement to operate without lubricants.

In 2001, Journe set the wheels in motion for his new wristwatch with initial sketches. Six years and countless refinements later, the blueprints were finalized. In 2012, Calibre 1510 pulsed its first mechanical heartbeat as a complete caliber.

Traditional, Time-Tested Aesthetics

The blued steel hands indicating hours, minutes and power reserve are definitive of an F.P.Journe and in the Chronomètre Optimum may be set on a dial of white or red gold. The movement itself is constructed of 18K rose gold and features a 70-hour power reserve with a constant-force remontoir on display on the dial face. At the back, the movement flaunts a deadbeat seconds as defined by a seconds circle screwed onto the movement’s bridges. The two-part case is adorned with F.P.Journe’s iconic knurled crown, a design inspired by a silk rope.

The Chronomètre Optimum comes in 40- or 42-mm sizes, equivalent to 48.50- and 52.70-mm lug-to-lug configuration. Case thickness is 9.50-mm and available in either platinum or 18K red gold. Dials are either white or red gold and the timepiece is secured via leather strap.

The Hour Glass is the exclusive retailer of F.P.Journe in Singapore, Australia and Thailand.

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