Becoming truly obsessed with watches can elicit many unintended consequences: financial ruin, loneliness, a sudden urge to wear cardigans, and, perhaps most surprisingly, an expertise in materials science and metallurgy. This last pair comes mostly from the independent watchmakers, who seem to be running an unspoken competition to see who can find the coolest alloys or compositions. There’s tantalum, zirconium, even nobium. Toward the latter part of Journe’s brass movement era, a small run of very special dials were made for five watches. Each received a dial in ruthenium, ruthenium-coated brass movement, and platinum case. You come for the rare watches, but stay for the metallurgy.
Ruthenium is a member of the platinum family but extremely hard, moreso than tantalum even, and does not oxidize at all. It’s often used in the turbines of jet engines, nanotube construction, and space-flight electrical hardware. As a basis for a limited edition, it’s definitely unique from the metallurgy angle. The dials are a grainy charcoal tone, set off by the bright platinum around them. But this watch is unique even without the ruthenium. This is the Octa Jour et Nuit, only ever made for the ruthenium collection in 99 examples. It has no counterpart in standard production models. It was also the first time Journe ever used a 40mm case. This makes the ruthenium collection the only time Journe used a brass movement in a 40mm case, if you care.
The Octa Jour et Nuit is in essence a Reserve de Marche, with the addition of a day/night indication below the reserve. Critically speaking, I can think of no less-useful complication, when Romans previously invented the window circa 100 AD. Romantically speaking, the complication breaks up the standard dial in a way I find very attractive and globe-like printing is very playful for our unruly French friends at Journe. This early brass Octa calibre 1300 looks very unlike anything else from its era, thanks to the ruthenium coating. While any brass Journe is highly collectible these days, I find the austere drab greys of this dial just as beautiful as the typical oxidized gold.
This example sports a case with very little wear, but some visible on the more polished outer sections of the platinum case. Its dial is undamaged, and likely not to age a day in our lifetimes. It comes with a full set from a well-regarded Shanghai retailer.
Find this Ruthenium Octa Jour et Nuit here from Woohoo Time for 227000 USD.