Hands On: Barbier-Mueller Mosaïque II

An intriguing, inlaid F.P. Journe.

One of the most esoteric offerings in Only Watch 2024 is the Barbier-Mueller Mosaïque II. A follow-up to the first edition made in 2017, the Mosaïque II sticks to the same template that was originally inspired by a 19th century pocket watch with an inlaid case.

It’s essentially an F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain with a slightly larger case inlaid with semi-precious stones and a hinged hunter back. This also makes F.P. Journe the only brand with two watches – the other is the Chronomètre Furtif Bleu – in the upcoming charity auction that takes place on May 10, 2024.

Initial thoughts

I liked the original version because it was recognisable as an F.P. Journe watch, yet entirely different. The Mosaïque II holds the same appeal, albeit at a far higher price given the increased demand for F.P. Journe in the years since.

While in 2017 one could reasonably hope to buy the first Mosaïque for a high five-figure price – in fact it sold for a trifling CHF90,000 – the Mosaïque II will almost certainly end up in the high six- or even seven figures.

Affordability aside, the Mosaïque II is a little more interesting than its predecessor because of the floral motif as well as the materials; the bloodstone inlays are a particularly striking backdrop for the other stones. The inlays are also more complex, with both the dial and back inlaid with stones in a mix of shapes and sizes.

A Geneva museum

Located along a small street in Geneva’s Old Town is the Barbier-Mueller Museum, one of the world’s great collections of tribal and primitive art. It’s made up of over 7,000 pieces, only a fraction of which are on display at any one time due to the small size of the museum.

The connection between Barbier-Mueller and F.P. Journe lies in Stéphane Barbier-Mueller, an investor in the watch brand from almost the beginning (alongside the late Gino Cukrowicz) who now helps run his family’s real estate business.

Like its predecessor, the Mosaïque II is based on the Chronometre Souverain. Its platinum case measures 41 mm in diameter, one millimetre wider than the Chronometre Souverain and substantially thicker, in order to accommodate the stone inlays as well as the hunter back.

The dial, case flanks, and hinged back are inlaid with semi-precious stones, including bloodstone, jasper, jade, nephrite, carnelian, and opal, using the champleve technique. The inlays form a lotus motif on the dial and back that was penned by Eric Giroud, the independent designer who frequently works with independent watchmakers.

Like the enamelling method of the same name, the champleve inlay starts with recesses milled onto the surface of the case and dial. The tiny pieces of stone are then cut and lapped to fit each recess exactly, then carefully inlaid by hand.

Impressively but unsurprisingly, the case and dial are all made in-house at Les Cadraniers de Genève and Les Boîtiers de Genève, the dial and case making divisions of F.P. Journe that were recently consolidated into new, unified premises.

Under the hinged back is a cal. 1304 that’s identical to the movement in the Chronometre Souverain, save for the hand-engraved “Barbier-Mueller” brand on twin plaques screwed onto the base plate.

Key facts and price

Barbier-Mueller Mosaïque II

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 10.85 mm
Material: Platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1304
Functions: Hours, minutes
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3Hz)
Power reserve: 56 hours

Strap: Leather, clasp with ‘Sphynx’ engraved on pin

Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: To be sold at Only Watch on May 10, 2024
Estimate: CHF150,000-250,000

For more information, visit Christies.com.


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