The New F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, with Twin Remontoirs d’Egalité
A strong update of the Résonance for its 20th anniversary.
Resonance is a striking phenomenon in physics. Through resonance, a vibration in one object can cause an equal vibration in another, nearby object. For instance, strike a tuning fork, bring a second tuning fork next to it, and it will begin to vibrate in sympathy. Two oscillating bodies in close proximity, therefore, influence each other and eventually synchronize. Christiaan Huygens foresaw resonance could be applied to watchmaking with pendulums swinging in sympathy. Antide Janvier and Abraham-Louis Breguet made it happen. The modern history of resonance started with François-Paul Journe, who crafted the first wristwatch taking advantage of the synchronicity of two oscillators. Released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the model, the newest version of the Chronomètre à Résonance is far more technically advanced and… simply superb. Let’s take a closer look.
Above: F.P. Journe Pocket watch uncased movement with resonant oscillators (1983) – the first wristwatch prototype (1998)
François-Paul Journe’s first work with resonance was inside a pocket watch movement dating back to1983 and in 2000 he presented the first “résonance” wristwatch under the “souscription” system. The original Chronomètre à Résonance dual movement was designed with two sets of independent barrels, gear trains and regulators. These are laid out independently and symmetrically. One of the two balance cocks swivels in order to finely adjust the distance between the two oscillators so that they will function “sympathetically” to achieve greater chronometric precision. Since then, the model has been released in numerous versions. And it has turned into a genuine horological icon… Phillips recently auctioned one of these rare subscription Chronomètres à Résonance for over CHF 1,000,000.
F.P. Journe now celebrates the 20th anniversary of the model with a splendid and more mechanically complex version. From a technical perspective, the idea is always to place the two balance wheels in close proximity so that they influence each other and beat in sympathy. Yet, with the new calibre 1520, thanks to a differential gear, one single barrel now drives two gear trains to provide equal power to the each of the two regulators. Additionally, each gear train is fitted with a one-second remontoir d’égalité – another signature function of F.P. Journe.
A remontoir is a mechanism consisting of a secondary spring to power the regulator. It is rewound periodically by the mainspring and isolates the escapement and oscillator from the varying torque of the barrel. The two remontoirs of the calibre 1520 maintain isochronous oscillations resulting in greater regularity and precision throughout 28 hours. If the movement’s power reserve is given for 42 hours, the remontoirs need a minimum amount of force to function. So, you would ideally need to wind your watch every day. The whole idea of this new movement architecture with twin gear trains and twin remontoirs d’égalité is to obtain similar, regular amplitudes for the two oscillators, in order to enhance the phenomenon of resonance. If you want these to beat in sympathy, they should run at the same pace…
This new calibre 1520 is presented in a redesigned Chronomètre à Résonance case, available in polished platinum or 6N pink gold, and in a 40mm or 42mm diameter. A more elegant, ergonomic and practical design compared to the previous versions, the two crowns are now positioned at 2 and 4 o’clock (versus 12 and 4 o’clock respectively). The upper crown allows you to wind and set the two time indications: clockwise for the left dial and anticlockwise for the right dial. The lower crown is used to reset and synchronize the second hands. On the wrist, the watch is supremely elegant and wears comfortably thanks to the elongated lugs and the relatively slim case profile – especially the more compact 40mm diameter, seen here on the rose gold model.
In characteristic F.P. Journe style, the dial comes in 18k white gold or 18k 6N pink gold. The subdials are whitened solid silver, guilloched with a clou de Paris pattern. The time is indicated on 24h on the left dial and 12 hours on the right dial. These are independent and can be used to display two different time zones. The power reserve is indicated at 12 o’clock. Last, an opening at the centre of the dial shows the movement differential gear. The hands are blued steel.
Flip the watch over and you are granted an unimpeded view of the magnificent hand-wound movement. Comprising no fewer than 378 components, the calibre 1520 looks technically complex. The symmetry and balance of its architecture are superb. And as always with F.P. Journe, the finishing is spectacular. In characteristic style, the bridges and main plate are fashioned out of solid 6N rose gold. These are decorated with perlage and beautifully applied Geneva stripes. The flawless screw heads are polished and bevelled with chamfered slots.
The new F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance is worn on an alligator leather strap with alligator lining. It is secured by a gold or platinum pin buckle. A quick-release spring bar system allows you to change the strap easily. Gold or platinum bracelets are also available. The first pieces have just been delivered with long retail backorders. Price is set at CHF 101,400 in rose gold and CHF 105,000 in platinum.
For more information, please visit www.fpjourne.com.
The modern history of resonance in wristwatches started with Dufour’s Duality in ‘96 … so 2 years before FPJ prototype if I am getting my math right 😉
The Duality isn’t a resonance watch. But your arithmetic is sound. 😉
@Yves, as said by @Gav, the Dufour Duality isn’t using the concept of resonance. It indeed features a twin-balance architecture, however, connected by a differential. The idea here is to take the average rate of the two balances. If one runs faster and the other one slower, variations would tend to cancel each other and, in theory (but actually it also works well in the real world), this results in a better rate. It is all about averaging variations. Not using resonance. Also, the two balances in Dufour’s watch are quite far one from another, while resonance requires close proximity. Hope this helps.
doh …. both have 2 balance wheels & a differential gear so hope you would excuse the confusion 😉 Dufour stopped producing Duality because FPJ’s Resonance though so the Master himself might have decided it was too close enough to allow mistake?!
@Yves – no problems 🙂
These are quite complex watches, in both cases. The basic idea is the same – averaging variations by using two regulators. However, the execution is different and the means to achieve the results are not the same – differential (a purely mechanical solution) vs. resonance (solution based on physics)
A beautiful piece but seems to have solved one problem but caused another. An actual accurate time of 28 hours would enslave the owner by worrying himdailey to wind or lose accuracy. I realize to own a watch this beautiful would be pleasure but it would be muted by solving one problem but creating another.
Shirl, if you can afford the watch perhaps you could add the daily winding to the Butler’s duties.
Duality doesn’t use resonance.
Just one question – does all this complication result in a movement which is significantly (or even marginally) more accurate than other more conventional pieces? Where are the claims (let alone guarantees) of precision in terms of a certain number of seconds per month – even assuming you have the patience to wind it every day? Or is this just a mechanical ruse attempting to justify the exponential hype around FPJ watches? I remain skeptical but open to education from those who have actual experience of these watches rather than just the marketing. Still, having spent CHF100K on a watch it would be a brave man who admits it’s no more accurate than a Timex.
The watch movement whether more or less accurate than standard watches is less troublesome than the actual look of the piece.
Yeah you can notice the attention to detail on all the parts that put it together, the materials used that help explain the high price tag even the clean lines or how it is immaculately put together.
When you stand back and look at it though, it’s quite hideous, perfectly executed but hideous.
Quite shocking for that amount of money.