When F.P. Journe unveiled its LineSport Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante during SIHH 2018, it caught our eye for several reasons. Not only was it F.P. Journe’s first split-seconds chronograph in regular production, but it also came with a surprisingly attractive price tag, making it one of the best value propositions in the rarefied world of rattrapantes. Presented in precious metal cases and bracelets, the inspiration behind the Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante was the one-off model F.P. Journe confected for the Only Watch auction of 2017. Although one or two design features of the Only Watch model appeared on the 2018 chronograph, the movement was substantially adapted to integrate the big date function. Let’s take a closer look at this magnificent hammered red gold version.
When you ask a watch lover about F.P.Journe, you’re bound to hear grandiloquent names like Chronomètre à Résonance, Tourbillon Souverain Vertical or Répétition Souveraine crop up in the conversation. However, if you mention the LineSport collection, you might get some quizzical looks. Launched in 2011, the LineSport was represented by models like the Centigraphe and the Octa S Power Reserve (160 hours) with aluminium cases and even aluminium movements. Another defining feature of the collection was the use of protective black rubber bumpers placed on the crown and the external links of the bracelet. The split-seconds chronograph entered the LineSport family in 2018 and appeared, for the first time in this collection, with precious metal cases. Having listened closely to criticism from collectors and journalists, F.P. Journe decided to get rid of the rubber bumpers, increase the case size to 44mm and stick to precious metals.
As previously mentioned, the split-seconds chronograph was inspired by the Only Watch model of 2017 in a tantalum case. Although it broke the record as F.P. Journe’s most expensive watch at auction (CHF 1.15m), it was trumped four years later by the FCC Blue Only Watch donated by the brand for the 2021 edition of the auction sold for CHF 4.5m.
In the hierarchy of chronograph complications, the rattrapante or split-seconds chronograph is king. Designed to time events that start but do not end together, the beauty of a split-seconds is having two chronographs in one watch. Although the superimposed sweep hands initiate their timing in tandem, you can stop one hand to read an intermediate time, while the second hand (the trotteuse or running hand) continues its course. A second push on the rattrapante pusher makes the stopped hand ‘catch up’ (rattraper) with its partner. For a review of all the different categories of chronographs, don’t miss this article.
Frosted gold case and bracelet
The impressive 18k red gold case has a diameter of 44mm and a reasonable height of 12.10mm. It’s not so much the size that impresses – totally in line with sports watches today – but the attractive granular finishing covering the case and bracelet. Similar to the hammered finishing employed by Florentine jewellery designer Carolina Bucci on the case of the Royal Oak, the matte frosted surfaces remove the potential bling factor associated with a large gold sports watch. The polished areas of the case, including the bevelled caseband, pushers, crown, bezel and bracelet clasp add a subtle touch of light. With three positions – 1 for winding, 2 for correction of big date and 3 for time setting – the signature Journe garland crown is oversized for easier manipulation.
Compared to the Only Watch model, you’ll see that the case design is radically different. The rectangular pushers on this gold model are sleek, ergonomically shaped and discreet. Although it is called a monopusher, the watch has two pushers: at 2 o’clock to activate the central chronograph hand (start, stop and back to zero) and at 4 o’clock to activate the rattrapante hand. Technically, though, it is a monopusher since the “regular” chronograph is actuated by one pusher only.
The fact that the watch has no lugs emphasises the width, and its relatively thin case height adds to its broad, flat character. You could say that the only design feature borrowed from the auction watch is the font used for the tachymetre scale. Featuring a glossy black ceramic inlay, the tachymetre scale uses golden numbers to match the case. Beneath the bezel and on the caseback, you can see the only black rubber inserts left on the watch are in the form of O-rings or gaskets to seal the space between the two surfaces and prevent the ingress of liquid or dust.
Thanks to its widely spaced and articulated links, the 18k red gold bracelet with its hammered finishing is wonderfully flexible and allows air to circulate on the wrist. The rubber bumpers featured in earlier models have been removed and replaced with gold caps secured by precious metal screws. To diminish the weight of a gold bracelet, the links are hollow.
Typical FPJ Dial
The ruthenium-plated silver dial is hallmark F.P. Journe, bristling with textures like the central guilloché hobnail pattern and refined details like the matte 18k red gold applied Arabic numerals. The two whitened silver counters – running seconds at 9 o’clock and 30 minutes at 3 o’clock – are arranged horizontally and decorated with a snailed interior and a crisp black railroad track. To distinguish the two chronograph hands, one is ivory coloured, and the other is red gold, both with circular counterweights and tips that alight perfectly on the peripheral minutes track. If you see the two chronograph hands displayed at the official 10:10 time, they look like scissors. The golden hour and minute hands are signature Journe and matte to echo the case. It’s also worth mentioning that there is not a trace of lume on the watch.
Apart from the refined presence of a rattrapante, the watch stands out with its big date at 6 o’clock. Referred to by the brand as a ‘very large date‘, its generous proportions (5.20 x 2.80mm) make it a breeze to read, and the numerals set against a white background echo the font used for the applied Arabic hours.
The Calibre 1518
The view of the in-house calibre 1518 made for this chronograph is pretty spectacular. Inspired by the 1517 calibre powering the Only Watch 2017 rattrapante, the movement was adapted substantially to incorporate the big date function, and the chronograph coupling was changed to reduce stutter. Instead of the traditional horizontal coupling found on calibre 1517, the Calibre 1518 relies on an oscillating pinion. Other differences between the two movements include the layout of the bridges and plates and the level of finishings that were far more detailed in the one-off piece for Only Watch.
The manual-winding column-wheel (x2) chronograph movement is large and relatively slim (33.60 x 6.80mm) and occupies the entirety of the caseback, with luxurious 18k red gold bridges and plates. The movement beats at 21,600vph, and the large mainspring can store up to 80 hours of power reserve. Although it doesn’t feature the mirror-polished finishings of the Calibre 1518, the finishings are refined with circular Côtes de Genève on the bridges, circular graining on the baseplate, polished screw heads with chamfered slots, pegs with polished rounded ends and straight-grained steel work.
Of the three case materials available, the LineSport Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante in red gold is by far the most luxurious alternative. The hammered finishing of the case and bracelet tones down the potential posturing and swagger of a big red gold sports watch admirably. Not only does it look beautiful, it feels beautiful too. The beautifully crafted bracelet, the discreet pushers, the extraordinary legibility of the dial and the fascinating display of the movement add immense value to the watch that, surprisingly for a rattrapante, has a five, not a six-digit price tag. Fair enough, it is still a lot of money, but compared to other high-end contenders in the elite rattrapante sector, almost reasonable.
Availability and Price
The F.P. Journe LineSport Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante is not a limited edition and retails for USD 82,200. More information at F.P.Journe.com.