Hands-On with the Elegante 48 mm – F.P. Journe’s Quartz, Sports Watch for Men

Originally unveiled as a fuss-free ladies' watch, the Elegante is now available in a larger size for men, while still keeping the quartz movement that goes to sleep to preserve battery life. Here's a hands-on look at the watch, including original photos and the price.

F.P. Journe introduced the Elegante in 2014, a watch conceived as a sporty-ish ladies’ watch with a smart quartz movement that goes into hibernation after 30 minutes of being at rest. The Elegante sold well enough that a men’s version was just introduced this year, equipped with the same quartz movement, except in a larger case that’s 40 mm wide and 48 mm long.

It looks large but being a slim watch, it is 7.35 mm high, and made of lightweight titanium, the Elegante is pleasingly comfortable on the wrist. The look is identical to the ladies’ version, with a tonneau-shaped case featuring angled corners.

Despite being an entry-level watch, the Elegante 48 mm has a admirably detailed case finish. It has exposed screws on the bezel (the ladies’ model has rubber bezel insert), a detail that makes it look more expensive. And the Elegante case also features alternating brushed and polished surfaces, something missing from traditional F.P. Journe that have entirely polished cases.

The entire dial is luminous and entirely covered in Super-Luminova, a feature first used on the ladies’ watch. The colour is meant to evoke mother of pearl, though it is recognisably Super-Luminova. It does, however, look good, with the round dial properly proportioned relative to the tonneau-shaped bezel.

The sleeping beauty 

Visible at four o’clock is a tiny weight that is the motion detector that’s essentially a tiny oscillating weight. The calibre 1210 is a quartz movement developed by F.P. Journe that goes into standby mode, meaning the hands freeze but the microprocessor inside continues to keep time, once it is still for 30 minutes. In standby mode the battery is supposed to last 18 years.

Once the watch is put on the wrist, the movement wakes up, bringing the hands to the correct time. With daily use the battery should last eight to ten years. Having a standby function to extend battery life is not new, Seiko introduced such a function with the Kinetic Auto Relay in 1998.

Intriguingly, F.P. Journe has also made bridges and plates of the quartz movement in red gold, as it does for its mechanical timepieces. Conceived to be more attractive than most quartz movements, the movement is visible through the display back, and it succeeds at looking good.

Price and value

Being a quartz watch, the Elegante 48 mm lacks the technical credentials of its mechanical counterparts, even if it is smart and well made. That is especially so given that F.P. Journe is a watchmaker renowned for its ingenious complications. So it is hard to avoid the feeling that the Elegante is a fancy toy.

Nonetheless as such things go, the Elegante is not especially expensive. All things considered, it is an appealing proposition for a convenient, durable watch. Available only in titanium with a rubber strap, the Elegante 48 mm retails for SFr11,500 including eight percent Swiss value-added tax. That’s equivalent to US$11,700.

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SIHH 2016 Personal Perspectives: Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels continued to focus on lavishly decorated watches with novel complications conceived for ladies at SIHH 2016. Here’s all you need to know about its line-up complete with original photography. 

Van Cleef & Arpels excels at delicately pretty ladies’ watches, usually elaborately gem-set or enamelled. The jeweller’s offerings at SIHH 2016 stuck to what it does best, with jewelled fairies and enamelled butterflies taking pride of place on watch dials. But the most intriguing complication in the line-up is the Midnight Nuit Lumineuse. This has a dial made of aventurine glass, a type of glass with glittering metal inclusions. Polished, engraved and painted with a unicorn constellation, the dial is also set with diamonds. Six of the diamonds light up from underneath, thanks to the piezoelectric effect: certain materials generate electricity when subjected to mechanical stress.

Pushing the button at eight o’clock is causes a ceramic strip inside the movement to vibrate rapidly, generating electrical energy. This in turn powers six diodes mounted underneath the six diamonds on the unicorn, causing them to light up for about four seconds. A patent is pending for this mechanism, that while intriguing, is too brief to be exciting.

The rest of the movement is a tradition automatic movement, with only an hour hand that indicates the time on a retrograde scale from six to 12 o’clock. Like most of the other Midnight complications, this has a 42 mm case, in white gold. Also introduced at SIHH was the Midnight Planetarium in white gold. Featuring a miniature planetarium that shows the positions of all the planets in our solar system, the Planetarium was first unveiled two years ago in rose gold. The new white gold model is mechanically identical, with the planetarium complication originally developed by independent watchmaker Christian van der Klaauw, a Dutch specialist in astronomical complications.

Another complication is the Lady Arpels Ronde des Papillons that features an unusual time display mechanism. The hours are indicated by a swallow that is a retrograde hand, starting at “0” and travelling to “12” before returning to its origin. More unusual is the minutes display, which is indicated by orange butterflies, each travelling at a different speed thanks to an elliptical gear. Pressing the button at eight o’clock will start an automaton so the butterflies circle the dial before returning to their time-telling position.

Mother of pearl in different shades is used for the multi-layered dial, forming both the sky and the clouds. The clouds are actually white gold discs with mother of pearl inlays, while the applied numerals on the dial are also white gold. Both the swallow and butterflies are made of white gold, then engraved and painted by hand.

The case is white gold and 38 mm in diameter, with an automatic movement developed by a specialist for Van Cleef & Arpels. Though the identity of the movement maker was not revealed, it might be Agenhor, the Geneva-based complications maker that has worked extensively with the jeweller in the past. The Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Fée Ondine is similarly decorative but less complicated, powered by an automatic movement with a 24-hour day and night disc. Executed in mother of pearl, precious stones, enamel and miniature painting, the dial depicts a fairy sitting on a waterlily, gazing at the sky. Both the water’s surface and waterlilies on the dial are made with the plique-à-jour enamel technique, one that is similar to creating stained glass, with the enamel painted onto a precious metal frame.

The upper half of the dial is actually a day and night disc made of mother of pearl that makes one rotation every 24 hours. During the day it shows the sun set with yellow sapphires, while at night a diamond-set moon takes it place.

The entry-level model of the SIHH 2016 collection is the Sweet Charms Pavée, a small, 21 mm wristwatch set entirely with diamonds with a free-spinning ring around the case that features a diamond set pompon. The smallest sized watch of this type made by Van Cleef & Arpels to date, this has a quartz movement.

Links to the rest of our SIHH reports below.

A. Lange & Söhne Audemars Piguet Baume & Mercier Cartier Greubel Forsey IWC Jaeger-LeCoultre Montblanc Panerai Parmigiani Piaget Richard Mille Roger Dubuis Vacheron Constantin Van Cleef & Arpels

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