F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle Reviewed by Tim Mosso

by Tim Mosso

“Flawed firsts” are a unique class of collectible.

The Tesla Roadster may have been a crudely modified Lotus Elise, but its spark changed the auto industry; it’s now a blue-chip investment.

1938’s “Action Comics #1” isn’t renowned for spellbinding narrative, but it marked the first appearance of Superman; it’s worth millions.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

And F.P. Journe’s first wristwatch perpetual calendar, the Octa Perpétuelle Anniversaire Tokyo, didn’t meet all his hopes; it’s now one of the legendary creator’s most sought collectibles. Go figure.

François-Paul Journe doesn’t mess around, and he rarely repeats himself. The watchmaker’s career has developed similar in style to film auteur Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino started as a fan and a scholar of movie history who moved on to making them in his own image.

But Tarantino stuck with established genres and created each new project to fit existing tropes such as westerns, martial arts, film noir, grindhouse.
In effect, each Tarantino movie is both an original work and an homage.

Journe has taken a similar path. He launched his eponymous brand with the Tourbillon Souverain in 1999. It made sense that his first self-titled product would pay homage to the greatest chef-d’oeuvre of his greatest hero, Abraham-Louis Breguet.

Chronographs, travel times, sports watches, chiming models, and calendar complications followed in subsequent decades. Each example was a genre watch that added Journe’s innovations and original insights to yield a unique work.

F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier over The Mirror by Frank Dicksee (image courtesy @thehealer74)

F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier over The Mirror by Frank Dicksee (image courtesy @thehealer74)

But Journe had a special relationship with calendar watches. His 2004 Octa Calendrier, an annual calendar, deliberately kicked the can down the road while the watchmaker overcame his reservations about full perpetual systems. He had two specific concerns.

First, there’s the annoyance and liability that comes with calendar adjustment and the separate tools often provided for the purpose. Not only did owners tend to lose the tools or fail to keep them handy, but all manner of surrogates from toothpicks to pen tips were drafted into service adjusting the watches.

Particularly when a tungsten-tipped pen was involved, the results could disfigure the watch or even damage the mechanism. In its most benign form, the lack of a tool could simply frustrate adjustment and defeat the purpose of a calendar system.

Second, there was Journe’s desire to prevent accidental setting of the calendar.



Fortunately, Journe had a head start on his foolproof calendar. The Octa Calendrier, could, with effort, be converted into a perpetual mechanism. And Journe also had an occasion worth marking with an innovation: the fifth anniversary of his first factory boutique in Tokyo.

Established in 2004, the Tokyo boutique marked Journe’s first step towards vertical integration, and it served one of his brand’s most important markets.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

A conventional Octa Calendrier displays days, months, and dates. Like all annual calendars, it requires single correction – annually – when February turns to March. Since establishing the “Tokyo Anniversary” series in 2005, Journe had focused on maintaining the basic design of each model while adding an exclusive combination of titanium case, rose gold hardware, and ruthenium-coated white gold dials.

The Octa Perpétuelle pushed the anniversary watch concept to its limit as engineering and fundamental components needed to be revised; it was the first Tokyo edition to be mechanically distinct from the core model on which it was based.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

Case changes and movement changes were required, but Journe sought to economize as much as possible by retaining the dial layout of the Calendrier. A new month display was incorporated into the calendar, and each February would include a leap-year phase display on a disk adjacent to the month. “B” for “bisextile” indicated the leap year while 1-3 indicated the other three quarters of the cycle.

Even reusing most of the base caliber and dial tooling, the Octa Perpétuelle was a taxing rebirth. The unusually large edition count of 99 pieces – by far the most numerous of the Tokyo series – likely reflected an attempt to recoup commensurately larger development costs of the edition.

All that said, the result was a watch unique compared to all that came before and all that have followed. Unlike the other Tokyo anniversary editions, the Octa Perpétuelle is a separate model never offered in regular production.

No standard issue Octa Perpétuelle emerged in subsequent model years.



And when Journe announced his first series-production Quantième Perpétuel in 2012, it bore no physical or functional resemblance to the 2009 Tokyo perpetual. The pioneering calendar stands alone in Journe history.

Octa Perpétuelle is a funky watch. Its oddest feature is the solution Journe devised for setting the modified month display. Avoidance of accidental adjustment was a priority, so the rose gold button at eight o’clock cannot be actuated until an adjacent sliding lock is drawn away from the trigger.

Separately, the date and day are corrected using a quickset feature driven by the conventional crown.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

Dial side, the ruthenium-coated disc is dark, intense, and brooding. Due to the anthracite-colored coating, it’s almost impossible to recognize the dial blank as a solid slab of 18-karat gold. In contrast, the dial-side assembly screws – a Journe trademark since the beginning – are rendered in gorgeous brushed rose gold rather than the usual polished steel.

The equally ubiquitous Journe sub-dial bezels also receive a measure of refinement by trading their usual mirror polish for gentle brushed satin tops.

Examples of this watch have been fitted – as here – with rose gold pin buckles, full rose gold clasps, and, exceptionally, with a rare full-titanium bracelet. While the folding buckle adds a few thousand to the value, the matching bracelet is worth bonkers money.

Examples of the Octa Perpétuelle on the bracelet fetch as much as $80,000 above either of the gold buckles as of spring 2024.

Internally, the Octa Perpétuelle is distinct but not visibly so. The unique perpetual calendar running gear lives on the dial side of the watch, so the caseback is identical to most of the automatic Octa series.

Engraved text on the movement of the F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

Mechanically, it’s a solid timekeeper. A free-sprung balance with five-position adjustment and a flat mainspring torque curve are at the heart of the chronometric potential. The flattest part of that curve occurs in the first 120 hours, which is why each Octa’s power reserve generally is stated as such. However, if allowed to run from full wind to exhaustion, the absolute power reserve is around 160 hours.



Journe’s intent when launching the Octa was to create an automatic specifically to 1) keep chronometer-like time and 2) drive complications. In my experience, it excels at both.

F.P. Journe gold Calibre 1300 powers the F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

Since mid 2004, Journe’s use of solid 18-karate rose gold bridges and plates has been a crowd-pleaser and a distinguishing mark for the brand. Partially due to the medallion-like movement and partially due to the solid gold dial, the titanium case of the Perpétuelle doesn’t produce the toy-like sensation of Journe’s titanium/aluminum hybrid sports watches.

While the solid-gold construction impresses, movement finish details are clean and sufficient to the original MSRP. All caliber 1300 derivatives are constructed with concessions to price, and this is true of most Journe movements.

Finishing on the gold movement plates of the F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

Most notable are the bridge bevels; they are clean but bear obvious evidence of having been shaved on an automated milling device. No sharp interior angles or exterior points form where beveled edges converge.

Engraved gold rotor of the F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

The 22-karat rotor’s grain d’orge pattern is attractive, but its edges are rough and industrial. Text anywhere on the movement is applied mechanically, but some of it appears sloppy – that’s clear on the rotor’s center.

Gold rotor of the F.P. Journe Octa Perpetuelle

Screws are polished, but no meaningful slot or circumference dressing is applied.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle balance details

None of this detracts from the fundamental merits of Journe’s design. Every Journe watch hangs its hat on distinctive design, innovative watchmaking, and its link to an historically important creator.

F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle

The Octa Perpétuelle adds limited edition rarity and its status as Journe’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch. “First” is a flag that flies forever, and this watch is a potential collection cornerstone on that basis alone.

For more information, please visit www.fpjourne.com/en/collection/boutique-anniversary/octa-perpetuelle-anniversaire-tokyo

Quick Facts: F.P. Journe Octa Perpétuelle
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, day, month, leap year, retrograde date

Case: Titanium grade 5 with rose gold hardware; 40mm; 10.5mm thick; 47.7mm lug-to-lug; 30-meters WR; push down crown
Dial:White gold with ruthenium coating; screws in rose gold; retrograde date; day; month; hours; minutes; seconds
Movement: Caliber 1300.3, automatic unidirectional winding, 160-hour power reserve, 39 jewels, 3Hz, free sprung balance, five-position adjustment, 30.8mm diameter, 18-karat rose gold bridges and plates, perpetual calendar with retrograde date, quick-set day and date with locking trigger for monthly adjustment

Clasp: rose gold pin buckle or single fold deployant clasp
Limitation: 99 pieces
2024 Preowned Price: $270,000

* Tim Mosso is the media director and watch specialist at WatchBox/The 1916 Company. You can check out his many videos at www.youtube.com/@WatchBoxStudios/videos.

You might also enjoy:

Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down and F.P. Journe Vagabondage I Reviewed by Tim Mosso

Warning, Iceberg Dead Ahead! F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Joaillerie Reviewed by Tim Mosso

Behind the Lens: The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *