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F. P. Journe Chronométre a Résonance

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Origins of Resonance

The phenomenon of resonance is believed to have been conceived by Christaan Hughes, a dutch scientist from the 17th century, who is also recognised as the inventor of the pendulum clock circa 1656. Hughes observed that two separate pendulum clocks would usually synchronise. Antide Janvier, the royal clockmaker of Louis XVIII, explored this phenomenon further and is thought to have produced at least three clocks that feature resonance. Montres Journe, is the current owner of the double pendulum wall regulator no. 453, bought for CHF 1’488’500 in 2001 at Antiquorum. Abraham Louis Breguet, was believed to be the first watchmaker to implement the phenomenon into a pocket watch. It is rumoured that no more than three were ever produced, one of which currently resides at the Breguet museum in Paris.

In 1982 François-Paul along with his uncle Michel Journe had the honour of restoring the then relatively unknown Breguet No. 3177 that featured two pendulums, according to François-Paul, not many people understood the logic of having two pendulums as opposed to a single one. Upon disassembling the clock, François-Paul, quickly understood the principle intended by Breguet. The fascinating clock left a profound impact on the young François-Paul. At the age of just 25 years old, having recently just finished his first pocket watch (tourbillon), a curious François-Paul, then embarked on the journey of attempting to create his own version of the phenomenon. After a year and a half, the project ultimately ended up being labeled a ‘failure’ as the concept was simply not reliable. With hindsight, François-Paul admits that this was his second project and he did not possess the adequate experience to take on such a project. As the years passed by, the idea of failure was simply not an option, the fact that both Janvier and Breguet were able to achieve the phenomenon of résonance almost 200-300 years ago, at a time when technology and lubricants were limited, only drove François-Paul further in his quest. Naturally, François-Paul reembarked on a brave journey to be the first, not only to coin the term résonance (according to him) but to achieve this phenomenon in a wristwatch.

First unveiled in 2000, the Chronomètre à Résonance represents one of the wildest challenge ever in the field of mechanical watches. This emblematic timepiece is a milestone in the constant research for the precision of the master watchmaker François-Paul Journe. According to Franćois-Paul, the phenomenon can be compared to a radio:

“When you are looking for a channel on the radio, it crackles until the chosen wavelengths meet those of the transmitter: only then do they harmonise and begin resonating together”.

The proximity of the balance wheels sit just 0.4mm apart from each other, each of the two balance alternately serves as an excited and resonator. When the two balances are in motion, they enter into sync due to the résonance effect and begin beating in opposition naturally. It is important to note that this harmony is possible only if the difference in frequency between them doesn’t exceed five seconds per day.

The production of the résonance follows a similar path to the Tourbillon Souverain. The owners of the Souscription Tourbillon Souverain were offered matching numbers for the résonance, although the individual number was not displayed on the dial, unlike the Tourbillon Souscritpion. Thereafter, the standard production of the brass résonances (ref, R) was produced till 2004 featuring caliber 1499, followed by the updated caliber 1499.2 which was a transition period from brass to gold-based movements. The newly introduced ref, RN, which stands for résonance nouveau featured both caliber 1499.2 and 1499.3 and is believed to have been produced till 2008. In 2009, reference RT (résonance trois) replaced the RN, the main difference being the use of 24hr vs. 12hrs sub-dials, collectors have nicknamed this the ‘parking meter’. The RT remained in production from 2009 till 2018, two anniversary pieces were introduced in 2018, reference RTA (anniversary) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the résonance, although the reference remained unchanged. The entire caliber 1499 was discontinued in favour of the recently introduced Chronometre a Resonance – avec remontoirs d’egalites powered by caliber 1520, reference RQ.

Our example

This 40mm 18-carat rose gold Résonance forms part of the final generation, reference RTA (Anniversary), produced in 2019. The rather short production span stems from the reference essentially being both an Anniversary piece as well as a Farewell to the now iconic caliber 1499-1499.3. What makes this reference all the more special is the fact that it pays tribute to the original reference (ref, R) and retains a form of symmetry between both subdials. Upon closer inspection, the subdial on the left-hand side represents a 24-hour display whereas the subdial on the right-hand side represents a 12-hour display, similar to that of the Ref RT (Résonance Trois). Both sets of subdials retain the classical steel-frame paired with silver guilloché, the blue font of the numerals appears to be unique to this reference. The classic blue steeled hands have remained consistent since the launch of the first reference (ref, R) and remain so in this particular reference (RTA). The power reserve found between both subdials also retains the classical scale of 0 to 40 hours. Below that, the dial signed F. P. Journe, Invenit et Fecit (Latin for ‘Invented and Made’), Chronometre A Resonance, the placement of this essentially remains unchanged from the very first reference (ref, R). The iconic Chronomètre à Résonance appears to have been one of F. P. Journe’s most successful designs as the reference remains largely unchanged in terms of the overall aesthetic.

The 18-carat rose gold case paired with an equally impressive 18-carat rose gold dial is a configuration that is believed to be rather rare in the realm of F. P. Journe. Usually, it is rather uncommon for both the case and dial to match, ever since the Brass movements were discontinued, F. P. Journe essentially offers two variants throughout all his references; Rose on Rose or Platinum on White Gold. It is believed that only 50 examples of the Rose on Rose RTA were produced during 2019, making this reference extremely rare.

The movement

The distinction between the manually wound and automatic movements can be divided into the following, Octa (automatic) and Souverain (manually wound). The power reserve of the entire Souverain collection is based on antique marine chronometers, the power reserve indicator displays the number of hours elapsed since the watch was the last wound. Therefore, when fully wound the indicator reads “0” as it has been zero hours since the last wound. On the other hand, the Octa collection, when fully wound the indicator reads “120” and gradually displays how many hours of power are left. The Octa collection was introduced in 2001 with the introduction of the Octa Reserve de Marche, the caliber 1300 is the backbone of the entire automatic collection (till date). The Souverain collection was introduced in 1999 in F. P. Journe’s first wristwatch, the Tourbillon Souverain. Naturally, the movement is François-Paul’s unique creation, the ingenuity of having split his collection into two core subcollections (Octa and Souverain) allowed for a strong foundation for the brand to explore.

This Chronomètre à Résonance forms part of the Souverain collection which features an 18-carat gold movement. The calibre 1499.3 is found on this particular example, this calibre is believed to have been produced from 2008 till 2019 and was eventually phased out in favor of the recently introduced calibre 1520. The 42-hour manual wound movement consists of 40 jewels and 299 parts and is finished with the classic Côtes de Genève which F. P. Journe is known to use throughout his movements. Additionally, the screw heads appeared to be polished and beveled, with chamfered slots.

The Set

This remarkable F. P. Journe – Chronomètre à Résonance, is accompanied with both its inner and outer boxes signed F. P. Journe, original warranty card, and cloth. 

Brand: F.P. Journe
Model: Chronomètre à Résonance
Movement: Calibre 1499.3, Rose Gold 
Case Diameter: 40mm
Year: 2020 (sold)
Box & Papers: Full Set. 



F. P. Journe




Casual, Dress

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