The new Quantième Perpétuel launched by F.P. Journe clearly demonstrates how Mr. Journe works, and what his ambitions are. Originally announced in 2014, only a trickle (on Journe’s scale, that is less than 10) of the watches ordered have been delivered. Is a QP that difficult to make? Well, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. If F.P. Journe was only about sales and filling orders, it would have been easy to simply relaunch the limited-edition OP that came out a few years back. This limited edition of 99 timepieces was a boutique exclusive, in titanium and red gold. As this watch was strictly “limited,” Mr. Journe could not reuse its same movement.
It would have been tempting to simply change the case material and dial and fulfill the requests from collectors. But that is not the way F.P. Journe operates. One: it is not ethical. Two, and more importantly: if Mr. Journe decides to do a new watch, it has to be new – and not just cosmetically. And here he has embarked upon a task that has become “complicated.” All other QPs are “dragging” – meaning that the different displays (such as the day, date, month, and leap-year indicators) jump at a different time. It is why the user’s manual on such watches warns you not to manually adjust the displays between the times of 10 PM and 2 AM, as the gears are already engaged. F.P. Journe’s QP jumps in 16 thousandths of a second! Consider that the blink of an eye (technically of the eyelids) takes 10 times longer! So fast is the jump that the eye may not perceive it. And this is where the complication arises – Mr. Journe had to purchase a super slow-motion camera (which takes 4,000 pictures in one second) to analyze what was happening. The amount of energy in what we call a dynamic movement is tremendous – especially when the indicators are windows and not hands (due to a weight differential problem).
With that ingenious system, it would be impossible to damage the movement by changing the date manually.
Another important point for Mr. Journe was aesthetics. Most (all?) QPs are fitted with push-buttons or correctors on the side of the watch to manually adjust the date. All functions on the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel may be activated from the crown. But in order for the user not to have to change over four years to account for the leap year, Mr. Journe hid a lever that, when pushed down, can adjust the month.
So, as in any Journe watch, apparent simplicity is, well… not so simple. But isn’t it reassuring and comforting to know that Mr. Journe’s ethics enable us to experience true novelty?
Read also our previous insider’s look:
“Power or Precision?” An Insider’s look at F.P. Journe – Part 1
“Who needs Constant Force?” Private talk with F.P. Journe-Part 2
Is Your Wristwatch a “Wrist” Watch? An Insider’s Look at F.P.Journe – Part 3
How to Make a Perfect Watch: An Insider’s Look at F.P. Journe, Part 4
Sound and Vision: An Insider’s Look at F.P. Journe, Part 5
Save Your Energy: An Eight-Year Quest – An Insider’s Look at F.P. Journe – Part 6