F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary Featuring One Mainspring, One Differential, Two Geartrains, And Two Remontoire d’Egalité Escapements
Celebrating being first is quite an experience, or at least I would imagine so. I have no grand “firsts” under my belt to brag about, but many people have gone down in history for a first incredible feat or achievement. Some are bigger than others, such as the first sustained airplane flight or the first human to step foot on the moon.
Still, to know you were the first to do an act, speak an idea, or create a piece of art is special. Everyone has at least one, even if they don’t know it, because humans are infinitely creative and varied.
But if your “first” is big, well documented, and becomes a turning point for a large group of people or society at large, then the celebration that goes with it is a whole new level. Those moments then go on to be celebrated through the years as it becomes a point of remembrance and a pivotal step in human progress. As someone who works in product development, I often look to inventions that redefine what exists in the world or what humanity now has access to.
From big to small, far reaching to a niche object enjoyed by a few, I revel in all the various forms of new creations. One such object that recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary is the F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, the first wristwatch to ever house such a rare and intriguing mechanism.
Debuting in 2000, the anniversary of the achievement in 2020 saw the release of a brand-new movement that ups the stakes for an already incredible watch, a fitting celebration of a horological first with yet another first.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance
I’ve covered the phenomenon of resonance in depth before, but here’s a quick refresher: resonance is a mechanical phenomenon whereby vibrations from an oscillating system transfer to a nearby oscillating system and slightly alter its period, which then reflects to the first system, altering its period as well, until the two systems become linked to a common frequency. That phenomenon creates a more stable pair of oscillators that resist deviation, in this case creating more accurate and consistent timekeepers.
For a more in-depth explanation, see my article entitled Understanding Resonance, Featuring The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance, And Haldimann H2 Flying Resonance.
The Chronomètre à Résonance was the first wristwatch with a resonance mechanism and it catapulted F.P. Journe into the major leagues (even though he was arguably already there). Over the next two decades, the model saw several versions, all drawing strong acclaim.
The latest model is an entirely new piece based on the resonance phenomenon that now incorporates a larger single mainspring (the original had two mainsprings) with a differential driving the two going trains and a pair of remontoire d’égalité escapements.
These updates make for a more technically complicated timepiece still bearing a signature F.P. Journe twin-dial layout with a little twist. In the center, a small window showcases the differential that splits the power between the two going trains and makes it clear this isn’t your father’s Chronomètre à Résonance.
The new movement also allowed for some useful changes that a wearer would appreciate, mainly relocating the winding crown from 12 o’clock (squished into the case band) over to 2 o’clock, balancing the time setting crown at 4 o’clock.
The twin time dials allow for a second time zone on the left (displayed by a 24-hour dial) and the local time on the right, both with their respective dead second subdials below. These subdials can be reset to zero by pulling the time-setting crown, allowing precision time setting and, should anything cause a significant disturbance to the resonance phenomenon such as a few hard shocks, realigning the second hands.
The beauty and balance of the front is shared on the rear but with much more mechanical goodness.
Updates and upgrades: F.P. Journe Caliber 1520
The new Caliber 1520 is just as astonishing as the preceding movement even if at first glance it doesn’t seem very different. But within seconds it becomes clear that there are quite a few changes that have helped make this a wildly different watch.
Starting at the top, the mainspring and winding mechanism have been relocated and simplified from dual power trains to a single mainspring driving the two going trains. That mainspring, supported by a large jewel, is centered perfectly in the movement and charged via the winding mechanism on the left, the only aspect that isn’t perfectly balanced on the 1520.
Just below the mainspring, mostly obscured on the rear by the bridge, is the differential equally splitting power between the two going trains. These going trains flank the differential, each heading toward a one-second remontoire d’égalité, which doles out torque evenly to the escapement and balance wheels.
These mechanisms have become a regular feature of many F.P. Journe pieces since the focus is often on chronometry as much as beauty.
Up to this point, the going train and remontoire d’égalité are supported by the main plate and a pair of steel cocks, moving on a larger pair of 18-karat gold cocks to support the going wheel and escape wheel on each side. Everything is perfectly symmetrical and mirrored straight down the middle, but once we reach the balance assemblies this shifts.
As on the original Chronomètre à Résonance the left free-sprung balance assembly is fixed to the main plate with a standard balance cock and provides the base for the resonance mechanism. The right balance assembly built on a pivot is where the magic is created.
A small rack attached to the balance cock allows for a small amount of rotational adjustment whereby the balance wheel can be minutely rotated into position for the proper transmission of the micro vibrations necessary for the resonance phenomenon to occur.
Of course, that is not all it takes; precise adjustment in all six positions is necessary for resonance to occur. Due to the subtle nature of the transfer of energy, it requires both balances to be adjusted to within five seconds per day of each other, otherwise they will not be able to self-correct and become resonant.
This is because the movement, bridges, and plates are so solidly mounted; if the balances were to be mounted on a structure that could flex more, then a wider variation could be possible to still allow resonance.
The result is a very precise movement with dual going trains adjusted to very exacting standards. And thanks to the dual remontoire d’égalité mechanisms it has approximately 28 hours (+/-2 seconds per day) of efficient running time before the power is too low to effectively charge the mechanism with enough consistent force to ensure proper functionality at the highest standards.
This could have been overcome with an automatic winding mechanism, perhaps peripherally so you can still enjoy the movement, but Journe does what Journe wants to do. The man and the brand are a careful balance of tradition and modernity, and it makes sense that the watch wouldn’t be built strictly for ease of use, instead keeping it a symbol of the connoisseur.
Aesthetically and mechanically this update to the Chronomètre à Résonance is classic F.P. Journe, and I honestly see nothing that could upset a Journe fan. The dial layout, colors, metal choices, movement . . . everything is spot on for what a Journe watch should be.
With the updated mechanics, it should mark a new first and a continuation of a previous first all in one release. This new piece also isn’t a limited edition (only limited by production capability), so if you have the resources you can get in line for an incredible piece of horological history.
I’m happy that F.P. Journe isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to the pieces that the brand is founded upon as it has a long history of improvement and creativity with mechanical updates. The 20th Anniversary Chronomètre à Résonance is a perfect example of this and why after all these years F.P. Journe is still one of the best.
No use battling over the capabilities, but let’s see if I can break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.6 I have yet to meet someone that legitimately isn’t wowed by an F.P. Journe let alone a Résonance!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 99.9 » 979.684m/s2 This is a watch that keeps even the most casual watch fans up for days!
- M.G.R. * 70.1 The amount of geeky knowledge that you could have to fully understand this movement makes it break the 70 mark on its way to perfection!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate Power reserve and the second time zone belie the true complexity of this piece, but a resonance mechanism with dual remontoir mechanisms still don’t count as an added complication. But I can still recommend regular strength the Gotta-HAVE-That cream!
- Ouch Outline * 11.4 The moment your knee bends the wrong way! Whether it be backwards on a trampoline or sideways because you couldn’t change direction as fast as you hoped, that torque on your knee can be excruciating. Still, I would risk it if it meant getting one of these on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Resonance and remontoirs? There isn’t much more to be said at this point, the reason to fall madly for this watch is right there at its heart, and now yours!
- Awesome Total * 788 Start with the new caliber number (1520) and divide by the number of case material choices (2), then add the hours of “efficient” power reserve (28) for a still majestically awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.fpjourne.com/en/collection/classique-collection/chronometre-resonance.
Quick Facts F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance 20th Anniversary
Case: 40 or 42 x 11 mm, platinum or 18-karat 6N red gold
Movement: manual winding Caliber 1520, 42 hours power reserve, dual resonant oscillators, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, dual one-second remontoire d’égalites
Functions: hours, minutes dead beat seconds; second 24-hour time zone with dead beat seconds, power reserve
Limitation: only limited by production
Price: $106,800 (gold); $110,600 (platinum)
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