Up Close With The F.P. Journe Octa Sport Titanium (With Original Photos & Price)

With titanium replacing aluminium, the Octa Sport Titane is entry level F.P. Journe sports watch, yet it retains all the qualities of its precious metal cousins, namely a slim case and elegant proportions.

Introduced last year, the Octa Sport Titane is F.P. Journe‘s entry level sports watch, part of the second generation lineSport in titanium that replaces the first generation aluminium models. Identical to the aluminium model save for the case material, the Octa Sport Titanium is lightweight and surprisingly elegant for a sports watch. But is it better than a Royal Oak Extra-Thin Or Nautilus? Because the hardened aluminium alloy sometimes developed stains, it was replaced with titanium for all the sports models. Marginally heavier than the 55g aluminium Octa Sport – the titanium version weighs in at 60g on a rubber strap and 70g with a bracelet – the Octa Sport Titane is still light enough to feel almost non-existent while on the wrist. Despite a 42mm diameter, sizeable even by modern standards, the Octa Sport Titane feels compact on the wrist, a quality typical of many F.P. Journe watches.

The most obvious difference between the two metals is the darker colour of the titanium, in contrast to the bright silver tone of the aluminium. This is a more appealing aesthetic, especially since the earlier aluminium cases were reminiscent of aluminium Swatch watches.

Though the case is now titanium, the dial, movement bridges and base plate remain aluminium. The original lineSport idea was to create an ultra-light sports watch, which meant the signature rose gold movement parts had to be replaced with aluminium. Functionally the calibre 1300.3 is nearly identical to the version used in the precious metal Octa watches, with useful features like a five day power reserve, oversized date and power reserve indicator. An additional function not found on the other Octa watches is the day and night indicator at nine o’clock.  

Like all F.P. Journe watches, the Octa Sport is slim, with an elegant, rounded form that is uncommon for sports watches. Rubber inserts are found on the sides of the case and bracelet, meant as shock absorbers. While they might serve a useful purpose, the rubber inserts look somewhat out of place on a high-end sports watch. Rubber also deteriorates over time, meaning this inserts will require replacement after several years.

The Octa Sport movement is arguably superior to that found in the Royal Oak 15202 (and definitely superior to the calibre 240 in the Nautilus), but the Octa Sport is not an icon. While the precious metal Journe watches can give timepieces from mainstream brands like Patek Philippe and Lange a run for their money, the Octa Sport is destined to be a watch for an F.P. Journe enthusiast. In fact that was the rationale behind its conception; Journe created it for an important client who wanted to have an F.P. Journe on his wrist regardless of what he was doing. 

So to answer the original question, even if the Octa Sport trumps a Royal Oak or Nautilus in some respects, it is not the first choice for a sports watch. But for someone who has been there and done that, it merits a look. The Octa Sport Titane retails for US$32,070, or on a rubber strap for US$27,530.

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Up Close With The Rado HyperChrome Brown Ceramic (With Original Photos & Price)

A pioneer in the use of ceramic for watches, Rado unveiled its first chocolate ceramic watch cases at Baselworld 2015 with the HyperChrome Brown Ceramic.

Rado‘s latest addition to its palette of ceramics is dark, matte brown. Introduced at Baselworld 2015, the HyperChrome Brown Ceramic (offered as a chronograph, automatic and automatic with diamonds) combines chocolate ceramic with rose gold accents, a surprisingly appealing look that’s different from the usual black or white ceramic watches.   Starting in the 1960s Rado began to use uncommon, scratch-resistant materials for its watch cases, starting with tungsten carbide in 1962. Rado’s first ceramic watches hit the market in the 1980s, making it the first Swiss watchmaker to use the material (Seiko got there first with its shrouded 600m dive watch of 1965).  The HyperChrome Brown Ceramic continues that tradition with brown ceramic watch cases. Because of the nature of the material – ceramics aren’t available in the bright colours coated metals are – the brown ceramic is dark with a hint of grey, a subtle shade of brown that does not look overly fashionable.  The flagship model of the new brown ceramic line-up is the HyperChrome Tachymeter Brown Ceramic Automatic Chronograph, a limited edition of 999 pieces. Unusually for a chronograph, it has a clean dial with much less clutter than the average chronograph. That increases its visual appeal but reducing its functionality. 

The lack of markings mean chronograph registers are harder to read, and because the three counters overlap, certain sections are illegible. The hands with black lacquer are descended from the the originals that Gerald Genta designed for the Omega Constellation in the 1950s that had black onyx inlays for the hands and hour markers. Overall, it is an attractive, albeit impractical look. Despite being 45mm in diameter, the brown ceramic case does not seem large, likely due to its dark colour. It has a matte finish, as do the outer links of the bracelet, with contrast coming from the polished bezel and bracelet centre links. The rose gold crown and pushers are plated rather than solid gold, one reason for its relatively affordable price tag.

Like most other ceramic watch cases, this is made via sintering, a process of baking ceramic powder in an oven that compacts and hardens the resulting shape. The result is a hard and dense case, but the downside are relatively wider tolerances compared with metal parts. This is evident in the fit of the bracelet to the case. But this is characteristic of all ceramic cases made this way, and not a criticism of this watch.

The HyperChrome Tachymeter Brown Ceramic Automatic Chronograph is powered by an ETA 2894, which is the ETA 2892 movement with a chronograph module on top. It’s a reliable movement that will elicit no complaints.  Also in brown ceramic but with slightly different surfaces finishes is the Rado HyperChrome Brown Ceramic Automatic. This has a glossy finish on the case and bracelet outer links, while the centre portion of the bracelet is matte. Despite being 42mm in diameter, this wears relatively small, again due to the dark colour of the case. Inside is an automatic ETA 2892. This is part of the regular collection.

The last in the line-up is the Rado HyperChrome Diamonds Brown Ceramic Automatic. A limited edition ladies’ watch, this has a bezel set with 56 diamonds totalling 0.834 carats. The case diameter is a modest 36mm, with the self-winding ETA 2681 inside. This is limited to 600 pieces.

As ceramic watches go, the HyperChrome Brown Ceramics are affordable. The HyperChrome Brown Ceramic Chronograph retails for S$6920 or US$4800, while the HyperChrome Brown Ceramic Automatic costs S$5150 or US$3650.

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