Last year, F.P. Journe officially announced that the brand’s top-tier Sonnerie Souveraine would be completely discontinued by the end of 2018. The decision to discontinue the Masterpiece would pave the way for the Sonnerie’s replacement, shortly after. You can find the original press release here.
During my recent trip to Geneva, I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Journe to get a sneak peak into as to what is to come.
TJG: What can you tell us regarding the upcoming grand complication?
FP: Well it will be a multi-complication astronomical watch housing a total of nearly 900 parts. That is double the number of parts used in the Grande Sonnerie, quite literally. However, it is only a touch thicker than the Sonnerie and will be a “thin” multi-complication watch.
TJG: What was the biggest challenge for you when designing this watch?
FP: To start, it had to be wearable. It’s easy to make a complicated watch but much, if not all of what we see today, is not even wearable. Everything is so thick, so for me, I wanted it to be wearable and thin. That was very challenging. How to integrate all these complications, 900 parts, unto somewhat of the same level without having to build upwards and end up with a tower.
Let me add that it will also be easy to use. You can set everything from the crown, without a struggle.
TJG: You have always said that you are against the idea of having several complications in one watch. You specified that it interferes with a watch’s precision and evidently, every Journe model has no more than one major complication. Why is it different this time?
FP: It’s true. Complications interfere with precision but not in my watch. Why? I’m using a remontoir and therefore I isolate timekeeping from the complications. They don’t mix and the energy flow to the escapement in this case is completely consistent.
TJG: You only ever rated your Sonnerie with a 10/10. Will this watch exceed that rating?
FP: It will also be a 10/10 but the Sonnerie will always remain the best in the realm of sonneries. The Sonnerie is always a 10/10. This next one will be the best in the realm of multi-complications.
TJG: How long have you been working on this and where are you in the development now?
FP: The idea started in 2005 but it was just an idea. It takes a lot of time, many years in fact, to simply develop the idea in your head and then afterwards you start to sketch everything. I typically think of an existing calibre to use as a base to build a new movement on; not a module but just a stepping stone and basis for my idea. With this I thought of everything and in the end, nothing worked and I built it completely from the ground up.
Afterwards, I went through several tests. I think this is the 4th one now, and I’m currently putting together and testing the movement. Once that is ready then it’s just getting the case and dial.
TJG: Why did you decide to make the watch? What did you hope to achieve?
FP: This watch will show my competitors that F.P. Journe is capable of making a multi-complication masterpiece and that F.P. Journe can do it better.
[I reach an awe moment and he just smiles]
FP: I am making something that is wearable, easy to set, and even with all the complications, it will be precise.
TJG: When are we going to see this new creation?
FP: Only Watch.