F P Journe the Man With the Golden Hands

The Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix (GPHG) will celebrate it’s tenth anniversary this year with the prize-giving ceremony taking place on 18th November 2010 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève.  Open to all watchmaking brands the awards comprise ten pre-selected watches in seven categories plus a public prize, best watchmaker prize, special jury prize and the ultimate feather in the cap, l’Aiguille d’Or – the Golden Hand.  Master Watchmakers are a unique breed – don’t be fooled by the stereotypical image of a patient, quietspoken craftsman, content only when in the comfort zone of the bench, unassuming and private…….. this profession is as ruthlessly competitive as any other!  New projects are protected with a cloak of secrecy that would put the secret service to shame, accusations of “copy cat” activities are often leaked to the press and when it comes to the most prestigious industry awards, no matter what they say, they all have their eyes on the big prize. François-Paul Journe, a WatchPress favourite is quite a character – often outspoken, always ambitious and innovative.  Having learned his skills (often self-taught) through the restoration and maintenance of some of the oldest and most important horological collections in his Uncle’s Parisian workshop, Journe is a self-confessed respector of the techniques of the “Old Masters”.  Not only that, through the continued refinement of grande complications, he has become one of the most accomplished Master Watchmakers of our time, a statement which belies his age – he is only 53 years old.  For the 2010 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, Journe enters no less than four timepieces.

In the Complications category two F P Journe watches are short listed.  The Chronomètre à Résonance edition submitted is a 10th anniversary celebration of the groundbreaking watch which many agree firmly established M.Journe’s reputation.  The addition of a 24 hour indicator at the  9 o’clock position adds to the complexity of this piece making it extra special.

Also in the category Complications, the Répétition Souveraine – at just 8.7mm the ultimate ultra-thin watch.  The minute repeater movement itself barely measures 4mm – an example of horological micro-surgery considering the complex mechanics required, yet it is still one of the purist sounding minute repeaters available.

In the design and Concept category, F P Journe submit the tortue-shaped Vagabondage II a manual winding mechanical piece with “jumping” original digital display.  An unusual piece, not only for its design, but interestingly the watchmakers name does not appear on the dial.

Finally, in the men’s category the Chronomètre Bleu, a manual wind mechanical watch, its 56 hour power reserve produced from twin barrels.  It is exquisitely finished and features one of  the most sublime blue dials I have seen.

F P Journe has already won the Aiguille d’Or.  The only disadvantage of being winner is the obligation to become a judge on the panel for the event the following year and therefore excluded from entry to the competition.  Journe won in 2004 (became a judge for 2005), won in 2006 (became a judge for 2007), won in 2008 (became a judge for 2009)……………..perhaps you notice a pattern emerging.  If you want to read more about this remarkable talent read Johnny's biography of F P Journe here.