Watchmakers like FP Journe, Philippe Dufour, and Roger Smith each carry individual philosophies that take time to understand. However, while infinitely esteemed and laudable watchmakers, Dufour and Smith are not in the collector zeitgeist in the same way that Journe is today. The former are names whispered only in the corners of auctions rooms and invite only get-togethers. FP Journe, on the other hand, has enjoyed a spotlight bright as the sun recently. In contrast to Dufour and Smith, Journe chose to scale production as his marque grew. That meant that more collectors had the opportunity to see, touch, and eventually acquire his work. The inflection point in production and attention was somewhere around 2010, though highly escalated by the last few years. However, the watch featured today comes from the early years where Journe’s production and technique was something more akin to the Dufour and Smith way.
Journe shifted the entire foundation of his movements from brass to gold after an estimated 2000 examples. All brass movements were part of the early years from 2001 to 2004. Few manufactures have drawn such a harsh delineation between early and latter models. This is why ‘brass movement’ Journes are a thing. Despite the stratospheric increase in Journe interest, I still suspect we are at the dawn of a niche. Early Journes also used a unique dial construction, and grainy texturized gold that is prone to a beautiful (technically defective) oxidation patina over time.
The Tourbillon Souverain is a quintessential bit of Journe iconography. The man was engineering this complication before the start of his eponymous brand. In fact, his very first ‘Souscription’ watches were this precise complication. Those early numbered series are now stuff of auction lore. After that early run, we have this: what is known as the reference T or first generation Tourbillon Souverain. These early series are distinguished in both their brass construction and use of a Remontoir d’Egalité rather than a dead-seconds complication. The movement is housed in an understated 38mm platinum case, complete with rope crown. This is a halo watch for those who worship at the altar of all that is ‘Invenit et Fecit’ by François-Paul.
This example is something of a time capsule. Its 2003 construction would suggest a heavy oxidation patina by now, yet its gold dial has only just begun to show the lightest of alterations. Its case shows some very minute wear, casual yet careful ownership. Nothing is out of place. It comes with a full set from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Brass Tourbillon Souverain here from Iconic Swiss Watch listed as POA.