Eighteen years ago, François-Paul Journe responded to a request by Antiquorum to submit a unique piece for a charity sale. Pressed for time, he returned to a project he had abandoned at the prototype stage in a flat Tortue case with a wandering jump hour display. The three unique pieces – in rose, yellow and white gold with brass movements – with no inscriptions on the dial were delivered to Antiquorum to be auctioned. The enthusiastic response of the models at auction animated the watchmaker to produce the watch in limited editions for collectors. Christened Vagabondage for its wandering digital display, the first timepiece appeared in 2004, followed by the Vagabondage II in 2010 and the Vagabondage III in 2017. Today, F. P. Journe unveils its fourth take on the Vagabondage that marks a clear return to the first Vagabondage model of 2004 but with an updated movement.
Vagabondage I, II and III
The first Vagabondage appeared in 2004 in a distinctive Tortue (turtle-shaped) platinum case with a rose gold hand-wound movement, calibre 1504. Featuring digital jumping hours in a wandering aperture that circled the dial to indicate the minutes on the peripheral track and an aperture in the centre revealing the balance and escapement, only 69 pieces of the Vagabondage 1 were made. Like all the Vagabondage models from this moment on, the brand name does not appear on the dial. And then, six years later, and to the delight of collectors, the Vagabondage II made its debut. Equipped with jumping hours and minutes in apertures and a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock, and power reserve indicator at noon, the 2010 Vagabondage II was powered by the manual-winding rose gold calibre 1509 and offered in red gold (68 pieces) and platinum (69 pieces).
In 2017, the Vagabondage III went one step further in the art of jumping displays and marked a world-first with its digital jumping seconds complication. Produced in red gold (68 pieces) and platinum (69) cases, F.P. Journe could boast that it was the only manufacture to design and build a specific calibre (1514) for a series of just 147 watches – as 10 platinum diamond-set models were also manufactured.
The Vagabondage I Take Two
The name of the latest Vagabondage is slightly misleading. Instead of being called the Vagabondage IV, the fourth chapter in the book, it is known as the Vagabondage 1. The reason is that the new watch is very similar in appearance to the first Vagabondage of 2004 but is fitted with an updated movement, calibre 1504.2.
Housed in a 37.5mm x 45.2mm red gold case flat Tortue case with a slim height of just 7.6mm, the timepiece displays the jumping hours on a slate grey disc with a silver frame to highlight the hour in question in the brand’s signature font. Like the first Vagabondage model, the hour highlighted in the aperture rotates around the dial to indicate the minute displayed on the peripheral railway-style minutes track. The balance and escapement are revealed through the central aperture on the dial covered by a sapphire crystal glass. The finishings are high grade with straight Geneva waves on the bridges, polished screw heads with chamfered slots, polished and bevelled steep components and a circular-grained base plate.
The rose gold movement is still manually wound but upgraded. As François-Paul Journe says: “The first Vagabondage can be considered as a prototype at the time. We now have the experience to make a better, more reliable calibre, and so the movement is a new and more updated movement compared to the first attempt. The first was Calibre 1504, and this new one is 1504.2.”
Like all the Vagabondage models, owners of earlier Vagabondage II and III gold watches will have priority in acquiring one of the 68 pieces in red gold.
More information at F.P. Journe.com.