Wearing a F.P. Journe is always a special moment. The brand’s creations are unique both for their design and their technical content. A few weeks ago we presented you the last and maybe most complicated chronometer of the collection, the Chronomètre Optimum, which represents the essence of François-Paul Journe’s work. And in the Souveraine collection, meaning the manually wound chronometer rated watches, there is one that stands out from the crowd, a chronograph that is supposed to measure speed up to 36.000 km/h and that features a rather unusual display. We’ve been testing the Centigraphe Souverain (that we’ve already enjoyed here), in a very special edition only made for the F.P. Journe boutiques, in red gold with a black dial.
The Centigraphe is really an unusual chronograph because of its layout. In addition to the classical hour and minute’s indication in the centre, the chronograph function is separated into 3 sub-dials. The first one on the top left indicates the 100th of a second; the second one on the top right indicates a 20 seconds time scale; and the last one on the bottom of the dial is graduated for 10 minutes. Each of them includes a time scale in red and a tachometer scale in black. The tachometer scales convert time units for 1 km into speeds from 6 km/h to 36.000 km/h.
You may ask yourself, as we did before handling the watch, how it is possible to measure a speed of 36.000 km/h or an internal of 1/100th of a second with a classical 3Hz watch (meaning that the second hand is moving 6 times per second). In fact it is impossible except if you can stop the hand at any given moment, also in between these 6 ticks per second. The 1/100th of a second hand that sits in the top left sub-dial is actually a foudroyante that runs around the dial in one second. In the words of F.P. Journe the “ingenious feature of the 100th of a second is that it may be stopped anywhere along its one-second journey around its dial, even between two 100th-second divisions, enabling a fractional reading. This is achieved by vertically disengaging the pinion of the 100th of a second hand from that of the escapement, which presses on the pivot shank and acts as a brake.”
The technical specifications of the Journe Centigraphe don’t stop there, as it also boasts a patented chronograph mechanism that isolates the chronograph from the timekeeping function. This means the balance amplitude is unaffected when the chronograph is running, so the accuracy of the watch is still the same even if the chronograph is activated. A wheel, mounted on the fourth wheel of the movement, engages a pinion carrying the flying seconds hand. This means that the foudroyante second hand is driven by both the going train of the movement, working off the barrel, and the chronograph train, working off the barrel arbour. The 1 second counter and the 20-seconds counter are driven by two wheel trains on either side of a single intermediate wheel driven by the barrel arbour. Another separate train of wheels, also driven by the barrel arbour, drives the 10-minutes hand. However, there is a downside to that construction. When the chronograph is activated, the power reserve is dramatically cut from 80 hours to 24 hours, as multiple gear trains are driven directly from the barrel.
That technicality is mostly hidden when looking at the caseback as the chronograph functions are on the dial side of the movement. You won’t be able to see the levers and column wheel working when activating the chronograph function. An interesting point on the activation of the chronograph: usually, you have to start with a first pusher at 2 o’clock, stop the measure of time by pressing that same button and reset the hands by pressing another pusher at 4 o’clock. On the Centigraphe, FP Journe comes up with a clever system where the chronograph is started, stopped and zeroed by a rocker at 2 o’clock in the case band. Very easy to use, that patented structure is also more discreet (preventing two big pushers coming out of the case band) and gives more protection to those pushers.
When looking at the movement, you’ll immediately recognize François-Paul Journe’s work, with the typical gold bridges and plates, the circular Geneva stripes on the top bridges, circular graining on the underside of the plates and a very nice layout. The level of finish is based on Haute-Horlogery standards and every detail is hand-finished, including the beveled angles and polished screw and jewel openings.
The model presented here is a special edition only made for the official boutiques (not a limited edition) recognizable with the combination of a black lacquered dial with red gold indexes and an 18k red gold case. Combined with the contrast of the white sub-dials and red hands/time scale for the chronograph functions, it gives the watch a very nice atmosphere and a precious feeling on the wrist, without showing off.
On the wrist, the FP Journe Centigraphe is a reasonably sized dress-watch with its diameter of 40mm and its height of 10.7mm. It can easily be used with jacket and tie, as it will fit under your cuffs. However the chronograph function gives the watch a sporty feeling and the unusual layout of the dial, like most of FP Journe’s timepieces, offers a suitable originality.
To conclude, the Centigraphe is another great timepiece that shows the know-how of FP Journe, meaning it has a precious feeling and unusual complications, always with highly technical content that is once again not visible or understandable at first sight.
- Movement: Calibre 1506, Manual winding Movement in 18K gold, 50 jewels, 34,4mm diameter, 284 parts, Free-sprung balance, Four adjustable inertia weights, 21,600vph (3Hz), Power reserve over 80 hours with the chronograph stopped 24 hours with the chronograph running
- Functions: Hours and Minutes in the centre. Separate chronograph train driven by directly from the mainspring. 1/100th second readout, 1/100th of second counter, 20 seconds counter, 10 minute counter
- Case: 40mm diameter, 10.70mm height, 18k red gold. Rocker arm to start, stop and zero the chronograph. Three-position winding crown (Position 0, disengaged. Position 1, winding. Position 2, time setting).
- Also available in pink Gold or Platinum with a silver or red gold dial
- Price: $57.870
More information on www.fpjourne.com