This is a rare and eccentric showing of playfulness from Mr Journe, not likely to be repeated. Like much of Journe’s work, there is a story behind the visually striking watchmaking on display. This partially openworked dial is not executed in a remotely traditional way. In addition, it is one of just a few watches to display his movement from the dial side. Leaving no stone unturned, it is not the standard Chronomètre Bleu movement either. Modern collectors tend to go mad for numbered limited series and Journe’s collectors are some of the maddest of the bunch. Nonetheless, this small production from 2014 is worth peering through the insanity.
To commemorate the opening of their tenth-ever boutique in Beirut, FP Journe settled on a 99-piece limited edition run of a special Chronomètre Bleu. It was named for the oldest Phoenician port, a UNESCO world heritage site, ten miles north of town. This port made Beirut a cultural and trade center, and the watch was made as a nod to the city’s heritage. While the dial cut pattern may seem a bit random, it was made to represent the Mediterranean sky with rays of bright sunshine emanating through. The webbed cut pattern is iconoclast to Journe collectors, but a rare touch of romanticism in design for Journe. Moreover, this example is 1 of just 20 to feature Eastern Arabic numerals.
The exposed 18k rose gold movement was given much extra attention for this series. The upper surface received a full guilloché decoration with sub-plate perlage. Quite unique, the manufacture name is not applied or printed but engraved directly on to the top plate. Finally, a lovely detail easy to overlook: the J of ‘Journe’ is inscribed in the Phoenincian alphabet letter ‘Yodh’, meaning both hand and ten, as a full circle nod to the port town, level of handcraft on display here, and tenth boutique opening.
This example is in a lovely state. The tantalum case is, as one might expect, quite unmarred by time. Light surface wear is visible in spots and particularly on the back, nothing egregious. The dial side is perfect. It comes with a full set as part of Phillips new spring auctions.
Find this Eastern Arabic Byblos here as part of Phillips 2022 Geneva Auction XV set to hammer 7 May 2022 (estimated 107,000-213,000 USD).