After the Chronomètre Optimum, the Perpetual Calendar and the Octa Lune, this year (introduced during the SIHH 2016) the F.P. Journe Octa Divine also moves to a 42mm diameter. Yes, you’ll have to get used to it, but as of now, Journe will only deliver 40mm and 42mm watches – and he said goodbye to the 38mm case with this exclusive collection. Well, that’s not the only novelty here, as the entire dial has been redesigned and the display also evolved. Today, we go hands-on with this F.P. Journe Octa Divine, another proof of the manufacture’s mastery of originality and elegance.
Reminder about the Octa Collection
Most of you reading this will know that François Paul Journe started his career in Paris, by restoring antique clocks and tourbillon movements. This complication was also the starting point of his independent career as a watchmaker, with a first pocket watch completed in 1982 – a watch that he celebrated with the 2012 Tourbillon T30. The real commercial start of FP Journe was in 1999, with the launch of his own brand and the introduction of the Tourbillon with Remontoire d’Egalité. Soon after, François Paul introduced the Chronomètre à Resonance (inspired by a Resonance watch by A.L. Breguet). However, less might remember the introduction of another collection, more suitable for a daily use, more practical and down-to-earth; the Octa.
In 2001, Journe presented a collection of automatic watches, based on a single movement (with additional complications), with a single size for all the complications and with a long power reserve, improved chronometric performances and great stability over the long power reserve. The key word was uniformity, as the Octa had to be a uniform collection whatever the complications or display used – the Octa has seen several versions, including annual or perpetual calendar, chronograph, moon-phase or UTC. Still, the base movement, the dimensions and the style were shared. The movement was a 5-day power reserve calibre, with variable inertia balance and capacity to accept most types of modules.
Later however, the Octa collection underwent several optimizations. The first was an upgrade of the automatic winding mechanism. Indeed, Journe relates that he had seen one of his friend once wearing an Octa, however his watch was never fully wound. Indeed, this friend was mainly working on computer and wearing his watch on the right arm, meaning that the winding couldn’t be done properly. Journe reacted by changing the bi-directional winding system for a unidirectional one, mounted on ceramic ball-bearings – a system that was more sensitive to small movements of the arm and thus more efficient to wind the watch. This was the calibre Octa 1300-3 (still 5-day power reserve and variable inertia balance).
Later, the Octa movement changed from rhodium-plated brass to solid gold (22k gold rotor, 18k rose gold plates and bridges), following the wish of Journe to offer the most luxurious and durable watches possible.
The F.P. Journe Octa Divine (old version)
The new F.P. Journe Octa Divine
The new F.P. Journe Octa Divine follows the path set by the Octa Perpetual Calendar: a larger case, a stepped, circled and bi-colored dial, with additional indications all placed in the central area. Additionally, it follows the evolution made with the Octagonal Lune, meaning a larger display of the large date (yes, there is something of a ‘large’ theme here). Finally, compared to the older Octa Divine, the display, the position and the style of the indications have been changed, mainly creating a sleeker look for the dial.
The first and easiest evolution to spot for this new version of the Octa Divine is of course the increased case size. While previously available in 40mm only (a size that is still in the catalogue), the 2016 version now measures 42mm. On a personal basis, I tend to prefer Journe watches in smaller diameters (either the old 38mm or the current 40mm) however, I must admit that here, considering the large amount of indications placed on the dial, the 42mm feels justified to slightly “ventilate” the display. Furthermore, the 42mm diameter at Journe remains perfectly wearable – with rather short and curved lugs that embrace the wrist.
The case of the new F.P. Journe Octa Divine is consistent with the whole production of the manufacture, meaning this extremely classical execution with however a rather distinct shape – it’s something that always amazed with F.P. Journe, this capacity of being at the same time so retrained and perfectly identifiable as a Journe watch. The case is as usual perfectly executed, entirely polished, with a rounded convex bezel and recessed case bands. The crown is the same as used in all other collections, with its distinct and thin shape. The new F.P. Journe Octa Divine will be available in two versions: platinum with a matching grey dial and red gold with a matching gold dial.
The second and certainly most visible evolution is the (welcomed?) update of the dial. The Octa Divine follows here the new guidelines introduced with the Perpetual Calendar (for the style) and the Octa Lune (for the display). Previously, this watch was using a two-step dial, with a central part in grainy gold and a circular-patterned flange on the periphery (in white), printed with the numerals.
Now, the Octa Divine takes inspiration from the Perpetual Calendar in terms of style, with a 3-part dial. First is a gold central part, with a grainy finish (in grey or gold, depending on the version), comprising the indications. Around it is a mirror polished steel circle (ovoid shaped), screwed to the dial. Finally, the numerals are printed on a plain, white area on the periphery. Because of the specific shape of the steel circle, the numerals are sized differently depending on their positions – something that is classical to Journe, who doesn’t want to cut the indications, and that participate to the originality of his watches.
In terms of indications, the Octa Divine still relies on the combination of time, moon, large date, small second and power reserve. However, everything has been redesigned and repositioned, just like the Octa Lune. The small second is now a partial disc (not a sub-dial anymore), allowing this feature to stick in the central area of the dial, not overlapping anymore the hour track. The moon is displayed by a tinted sapphire disc. Both the date and the power reserve have been repositioned and redesigned, the power reserve being now smaller and the large date being larger and more legible. Overall, these new proportions offer a better legibility and a more aerial feel to the dial. Time is still indicated by Journe’s signature sleek blued hands.
In terms of mechanics, because of the new display, the top module (specific to the Octa Divine) has been redesigned. However, the base movement, Calibre Octa 1300-3, is still in place. Thus, we find back the 5-day / 120 hours power reserve engine, with automatic winding via a slightly off-centered 22k gold rotor and fitted with an efficient variable inertia balance that ticks at 3Hz (21,600vph). All the setting (date, moon, time) are done via the crown, preventing from having unsightly pushers on the case.
In terms of look and finishing, the movement of the Octa Divine is the vein of Journe’s production, with this slight exuberance that participate to the ultra-luxurious feel. The bridges and plates are manufactured in solid 18k rose gold, something that is now a norm for the brand. The rotor is guilloched with a barley-corn pattern, the bridges are adorned with circular Geneva stripes, hand-polished bevels and the main plate is circular grained. Not only this movement is efficient but it is also a superb piece of haute-horlogerie.
Overall, this updated version of the F.P. Journe Octa Divine brings some fresh air and some modernity to a model that was not completely in line anymore with the newest collections. Its new design and display is more contemporary and more aerial. At the same time, it remains faithful to the older model, thus feeling quite reassuring for collectors. And if the 42mm diameter is not your taste, a 40mm version also exists. Price: US$52,900 in platinum and US$47,900 in red gold.
Specifications of the F.P. Journe Octa Divine
- Case: 42mm diameter (40mm also possible) x 10.6mm thickness – 950 platinum or 18K red gold, entirely polished – sapphire crystal on both sides
- Movement: Calibre FPJ 1300.3, in-house, 18k gold bridges and plate – automatic – 3Hz, 120h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds by disc, moon phase, large date, power reserve
- Strap: black alligator skin with platinum or gold pin-buckle