FP Journe Vagabondage III in Platinum
One of the things I most love about some of Journe’s work is that you get the feeling he was compulsively obsessed. There’s enjoying your work and then there’s being so captivated by your imagination that you can’t sleep. If you’ve ever been there, it’s actually kind of a lovely feeling. The Vagabondage series has always felt like the latter to me, a series born to be the ultimate showcase of mechanical digital time-telling and obsessively engineered in the finest detail. There’s a beautiful dichotomy to a baked-from-scratch, highly complicated movement design all in order to read time like a G-Shock. Think of it really as a Zeitwerk on cocaine.
There have been main three evolutions of Vagabondage watches. The 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, accomplished through maniacal focus. 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.
For example, none of the series’ dials are signed, at all. 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. To my eye, it’s about as sexy as any wristwatch can get. 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.
This example is number 26, with just light surface wear visible on its case. It comes with its full set as part of Phillips upcoming Geneva auctions. I don’t see anything off at a glance, but as ever best to go to a preview if you’re bidding. Expect it to sail well past the upper bracket as per usual with Phillips.