Hands-On with the F.P. Journe Tourbillon “Souscription” 9/20 – the Hand-Made, Genesis of the Brand

With all the character of a hand-made watch, the Tourbillon Souscription is one of the 20 watches that formed the foundations of F.P. Journe in 1999, having been sold to raise the money needed to start the company.
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Having already made a handful of clocks and pocket watches, the then fledgling watchmaker François-Paul Journe made three prototypes of his now signature tourbillon wristwatch. But he had not the funds to start a company and put it into serial production. So he created 20 souscription tourbillons, where clients had to “subscribe” for the watches, paying in advance and giving him the capital to start Montres Journe in 1999. This is one of those 20 watches, numbered “9/20”, slated to be sold at Phillips’ Geneva watch auction on November 7.

What Journe did with the money he raised from selling these 20 watches is obvious – he made better watches. This F.P. Journe Tourbillon “Souscription” is as close to being hand-made as is possible with a modern wristwatch. All of the inconsistencies and quirks – flaws to some and character to others – are glaring.

Compare this with a Tourbillon Remontoir made just a year later, and the evolution in fit and finish is clear. Put it next to the T30 Anniversary Tourbillon, the latest tourbillon movement conceived by Journe, and the improvements are even more obvious. Improvements in manufacturing and finishing mean the newest movements are cleaner and more refined. But the Tourbillon “Souscription” has character, and to a collector of F.P. Journe watches, historical value.

In many ways this is similar to the original Pour le Merite Tourbillon from A. Lange & Söhne, a watch that is distinctly inferior relative to later Lange timepieces in terms of movement decoration. That, however, has not hurt its desirability.

The origins of the F.P. Journe look

Like all of F.P. Journe’s early wristwatches, the Tourbillon “Souscription” has a 38mm platinum case, along with a grained, gilded dial, a combination that is now the brand’s quintessential look. The origins of the golden dial lie with Journe’s first three prototype watches, which had the sub-dials screwed directly onto the base plate of the movement, which was the traditional gold-plated brass.

The  is lot 112 in the Phillips sale, with an estimate of SFr80,000 to SFr120,000.

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Tiffany & Co. Unveils the CT60 Annual Calendar Limited Edition Exclusive to Asia (with Price)

Tiffany & Co. introduces its first ever annual calendar wristwatch, in 60-piece limited edition sold only at its stores in Asia.
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Originally introduced as a simple calendar wristwatch, the Tiffany & Co. CT60 has now been upgraded and boasts an annual calendar complication, meaning the calendar only has to be adjusted once a year. The new CT60 Annual Calendar makes its debut as a limited edition clad in a striking, monochromatic black and silver.

Ordinary calendar watches cannot distinguish between months, so they have to be advanced at the end of any month with less than 31 days. Annual calendars, on the other hand, have gearing that accounts for months with 30 and 31 days. No manual adjustment is necessary, except in February with its 28 or 29 days. Consequently it only needs setting once a year, hence the name annual calendar.

The CT60 Annual Calendar is Tiffany & Co.’s first complication of its kind, a successor to the CT60 triple calendar introduced earlier this year. The annual calendar is powered by a robust Sellita automatic movement fitted with an annual calendar module made by complications specialist Dubois Depraz.

Although a big step upwards in terms of functionality and mechanics, the annual calendar nonetheless retains the exact same aesthetic as its simpler predecessor. The roots of the CT60 – the New York jeweller’s flagship mechanical watch – lie in a Movado calendar wristwatch made for Tiffany’s and gifted to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his 63rd birthday in 1945. A clean design typical of the era, the look is characterised by large Arabic numerals and pencil-shaped hands.

FDR’s Tiffany & Co. wristwatch

On the CT60 the visuals are similar, but executed in a more elaborated manner. The numbers are printed in silver powder, giving them a granular texture with a slight sparkle. And the black dial is finished with a soleil, or sunburst, brushing. Complementing the colour palette of the dial, the case is in brushed, 18k white gold, and 40mm in diameter. The observant might notice the faint similarities between the CT60 limited edition and the Patek Philippe 5396G annual calendar made for Tiffany & Co. in 2012.

Available only at Tiffany & Co. stores in Asia, the CT60 Annual Calendar black soleil limited edition is priced at S$28,700, equivalent to US$20,500. That’s a small (just over five percent) increase over the retail price of the simple calendar CT60.

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