With over EUR 70 million raised since 2005, Only Watch has become the foremost international charity watch auction… and simply one of the most anticipated watch events. The unique pieces presented for the auction are often exceptional, going way beyond simple dial or case animations. Over the past years, we have become used to seeing F.P. Journe present brand new complications. But what the watchmaker is presenting for Only Watch 2021 is truly unexpected. Meet the FFC Blue, an extremely bold and original automaton watch create with Francis Ford Coppola.
The circular motion of hands has been widely adopted for the use of displaying time for centuries. But there are so many other ways to indicate the hours in mechanical wristwatches. These alternatives offer endless possibilities for watchmakers to express their creativity with time displays, sometimes involving complex mechanical developments.
Puzzling at first, the spectacular F.P. Journe presented on the occasion of Only Watch 2021 is an Octa (which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year). It doesn’t feature traditional hands but instead a large articulated human hand, right in the middle of the watch, partly covering its intricate mechanical movement. The mobile fingers of this automaton appear or disappear instantaneously to display the hours according to their position. The minutes can be read at 12 o’clock thanks to a rotating pointer.
The idea of the watch was born during a dinner that François-Paul Journe had with Francis Ford Coppola in 2012. As Journe explains: “He asked me if it could be possible to tell time with a hand in a watch. I replied that the idea was interesting and required thinking about it. But how to display 12 hours with five fingers? It was not an easy matter, and this complex challenge inspired and motivated me. Once I figured it out, Francis immediately sent the sketches for the finger positions. After more than two years, I could finally focus on “Fecit”. After seven years of development, I am proud to present the FFC prototype.” The fingers are inspired by a mechanical hand created by Ambroise Paré (1509-1590), the father of modern surgery.
The F.P. Journe FFC Blue for Only Watch 2021 is presented in a 42mm tantalum case that remains surprisingly thin (10.70mm) given the complexity of the movement. The automaton blue hand is driven solely by the barrel of its automatic FFC 1300.3 calibre. Running at 21,600 vibrations per hour, it comes with 160 hours of power reserve. The movement comprises no fewer than 396 parts and is visible via the exhibition caseback. The case is made of 18k gold and beautifully decorated in the distinctive Journe style. The 22k gold oscillating weight is engraved with Ambroise Paré (1509-1590) and F.F.Coppola.
This exceptional creation by F.P. Journe will surely be one of the most discussed lots of Only Watch 2021. The Monopusher split-seconds chronograph presented in 2017 sold for CHF 1.15 million and the 2019 Astronomical Blue for CHF 1.8 million. Estimated at CHF 300,000 to 400,000, the F.P. Journe FFC Blue should not disappoint.
Created in 2005, Only Watch is a biennial fundraiser for research on muscular dystrophy – Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies (AMM). Organized under the patronage of HSH Albert II de Monaco, the watches of the 9th edition will be auctioned by Christie’s on Saturday, 6 November 2021. More details at www.onlywatch.com.