FP Journe Vagabondage III in Pink Gold
Imagine trying to invent an entirely new movement with digital jumping seconds for fun. That’s the madness, manic compulsive obsession, that is FP Journe on full display. If you’ve ever been there, it’s actually kind of a lovely feeling. The Vagabondage series has always felt like the result of a total flow state to me, a series born to be the ultimate showcase of mechanical digital time-telling, all for fun. There’s a beautiful dichotomy to a baked-from-scratch, highly complicated movement design all in order to read time like a G-Shock. I’ve said it before, but think of it really as a Zeitwerk on cocaine.
Because where Lange beautifully engineered a jumping digital hours, this has a running seconds. Which is madness. It’s jumping 60 extra times per every change a Zeitwerk hits. There have been main three evolutions of Vagabondage watches. The 2004 original featured a unique highlighted window and revolving hour with railroad minutes. The second evolved a more complex digital hours, digital minutes, and petite seconds. This, the III, was the first time digital seconds have ever been attempted in a mechanical wristwatch. The power demand that required was huge, and so the entire movement was redesigned around a remontoir d’égalité for the seconds. It uses two wheel trains to separate the constantly jumping seconds from hours and minutes. That degree of complication, simply for these running seconds, is unbelievable. There’s nothing else remotely like it; and while I normally don’t find Tortue cases particularly sexy, there’s nothing normal about a Vagabondage. It really is one of the most distilled forms of Journe’s madness, right next to the hand.
For example, none of the series’ dials are signed. Then, speaking of sexy, there’s the matter of production numbers. No, I’m not kidding, where most limited Journes are produced in even round numbers, the platinum Vagabondage I, II, and III were all limited to 69 pieces. This does make me wonder if the name should be pronounced with less emphasis on the ‘Vagabond’ portion and larger emphasis on the ‘bondage’ bit. I quite like that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there is a degree of whimsy here. Maybe if you ask nicely Journe will make you an extra set of matching leather straps, not for the watch.
The last pink gold result was Sotheby’s Hong Kong 2022 for 290K USD, previously Phillips 2020 Racing Pulse, 245K USD, and just before either of those ACM moved one at 160K USD. It’s a steady and consistent climb, no result had been recorded since the cooling off. The question remains whether these will continue to draw larger and larger sums or if they’ll mirror the larger Journe market currently. Rarity might spare this oddity. It is simply absurdly special.