Quartz Crush: F.P. Journe Élégante 48mm
by Amr Sindi
When you hear the name François-Paul Journe spoken out loud, the vision of a men’s quartz watch is probably not what immediately springs to mind. And, yet, as far as high-end analog quartz watches go, this one is pretty darn neat.
It’s also quite polarizing.
Essentially, the Élégante 48mm is an upsized addition to F.P. Journe’s Élégante collection, which made its debut two years ago with a ladies’ watch powered by a patented, carefree quartz movement that “hibernates” when not being worn, which extends the battery’s life considerably.
This makes sense for a ladies’ watch as women tend to wardrobe their watches like jewelry. The F.P. Journe Élégante collection for women contains watches that are beautifully made, proportioned for the feminine wrist, and available in a number of colors and different diamond options.
But seasoned male watch collectors come to F.P. Journe for pure mechanical ingenuity, and until now there has been nothing in the Élégante collection for them. For the moment at least, there is only one version of the Élégante 48mm: in titanium with a black rubber strap as seen here.
Knowing how passionate F.P. Journe fans and collectors can get – it’s borderline fanaticism, really – I can totally imagine the idea coming from one of the brand’s serious collectors who doesn’t want to get sand and sunscreen on his Sonnerie Souveraine while on vacation in some exotic locale and loves the practicality of his partner’s Élégante.
Don’t let the “48mm” in the name throw you off, either: the case actually measures 40 x 48 mm and is very wearable.
While the case shape isn’t typical F.P. Journe, it did make its debut long before the Élégante collection in the French watchmaker’s two unorthodox Vagabondage pieces. It’s a tonneau shape with a flat top, pronounced angles, and a mix of brushed and polished surfaces.
The four screws fastening the bezel to the case, which would normally be covered by a rubber insert on the ladies’ version, add a sense of ruggedness and utility.
Perhaps one of my favorite details is the dial. It’s got the signature F.P. Journe hands, numeral font, and minute track – not to mention a little window revealing the motion detector in the form of an oscillating weight – a visual nod to the opening revealing the remontoir providing constant force in the earliest Tourbillon Souverain models as well as the Chronomètre Optimum.
But the coolest feature is one you may not notice immediately: the entire dial is made of Super-LumiNova! I think it’s such an elegant solution to making a dial legible without resorting to luminescent hands and markers.
Is it me or the Kool-Aid?
How it works is pretty simple, and here’s an idea of it: when the watch is not worn for 30 minutes, the hands stop moving but the microprocessor continues keeping time. When the watch is picked up again, the hands move to the correct time. With regular use, the battery should last a good eight to ten years.
And just because it’s quartz doesn’t mean F.P. Journe skimped on the finer details. As far as battery-operated movements go, this one’s quite the looker.
Like almost all Journe movements, the Élégante features a solid pink gold bridge finished with Geneva wave decoration.
I’m not sure if the gilt heart motif on the circuit board from the original ladies’ Élégante is here to stay in the production run of the 48mm or whether this is just on the prototype, but even as a man I don’t mind it.
It’s a sort of reminder that just because it doesn’t have a mechanical escapement, that doesn’t mean it’s heartless!
So, am I nuts for thinking this is actually a really cool high-end quartz watch or did I drink too much of the Journe Kool-Aid?
I don’t think the Élégante 48mm will find its way to many collectors’ wish lists, but I’m also certain there are enough people who “get it” to make it worthwhile for F.P. Journe to produce.
For more information, please visit www.fpjourne.com/elegante.
Case: 40 x 48 mm, titanium
Movement: F.P. Journe quartz Caliber 1210
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds.
Price: 11,500 Swiss francs