Hands On: F.P. Journe Élégante “Gino’s Dream”

Unexpected but very F.P. Journe.

Now a legend in his own time, François-Paul Journe is an independent watchmaker who has created some of the most complicated and most ingenious timepieces in contemporary watchmaking. But having quietly previewed it last year, Mr Journe finally launched a watch that is, on its face, surprising for his brand: the Élégante Gino’s Dream.

Many brands have “rainbow” watches in their catalogues, but as is always the case with Mr Journe, his “rainbow” creation is done his own inimitable way. Based on his inventive quartz watch, the Élégante Gino’s Dream is set with synthetic gemstones of glass-ceramic composite. The colours and model name are a tribute to the late Gino Cukrowicz (1959-2021), one of Mr Journe’s best friends and a longtime business partner.

Initial thoughts

With the popularity – and value – of “rainbow” watches, it seems like every watch brand has one in its line-up, from the Patek Philippe Aquanaut minute repeater in rainbow stones from end to end to Tudor’s special edition for the VCARB Formula 1 team. So an F.P. Journe in those colours isn’t surprising, yet the Élégante “Gino’s Dream” is unexpected.

As with much he has done, Mr Journe didn’t do a “rainbow” like anyone else. Instead of an exceptionally expensive gem-set watch – a favoured approach as a sure way to increase revenue without boosting production – he created something entry-level, more or less. And the watch has a deeply personal aspect to it – Gino’s Dream is a tribute to one of Mr Journe’s best friends. Anyone who knew the late Cukrowicz will understand that Gino’s Dream is quite literally Gino’s dream.

At CHF34,500, Gino’s Dream costs twice as much as the standard Élégante. That clearly isn’t a deterrent since the “rainbow” edition has a long wait list, just like the standard version. A good deal of that demand is undoubtedly because of F.P. Journe’s relatively recent emergence as a “hype” brand. Strip out the “hype” element; where does that leave the price?

Gino’s Dream is pricey, but not exorbitantly so, especially when compared to the wider industry’s offerings. Compared to the wider F.P. Journe catalogue, it is a fun watch that is (relatively) affordable and also wearable since the materials and finishes are fairly robust.

The “smart” cal. 1210

This is a only quartz watch with synthetic stones, but it is one of the most elaborate quartz watches made in Switzerland – and it looks cool. Moreover, given his friendship with Gino, the watch is one of Mr Journe’s most personal creations, which is significant in itself.

A man-made rainbow

Glass-ceramic is basically glass that’s been heated to crystallise it – the atoms are rearranging into an orderly crystalline structure – in order to create a material that shares the properties of glass and ceramic. It’s not a valuable material but a useful one, for instance when resistance to heat or temperature changes is required, which is why glass-ceramics are used for cookware.

Here glass-ceramic has been employed as a synthetic gemstone. At arm’s length the glass-ceramic stones are a good approximation of actual gemstones. It’s not the real deal, but on the wrist, Gino’s Dream looks great and that’s what matters.

Up close the differences in clarity and colour are obvious. Glass ceramics are hard but also brittle, so the bezel here is probably a bit more delicate than that of a standard Élégante.

The setting is not seamless or “invisible”, as the stones are secured with pins that are visible around the edge of the bezel, though this is not apparent on the wrist so it doesn’t detract from the look.

The rest of the watch is just like the standard version. The case is available in two finishes, brushed and polished titanium in its natural state, or titanium with Titalyt, a titanium oxide coating.

As with the standard model, Gino’s Dream has dials to match the case. The titanium case is matched with a white Super-Luminova dial that glows a bright blue-green in the dark, while the Titalyt case gets a black dial in black Super-Luminova that also glows, but much less brightly.

Although I like the Titalyt and black dial on the standard model, the white dial goes better with the rainbow bezel and I would chose that version without hesitation.

Titalyt with a black dial

The case is the standard larger size, otherwise known as Élégante 48 (there is also an Élégante 40 designed as a ladies’ model). The number refers to the length of the case; the diameter is a wearable 40 mm. At just under 8 mm, the case is extremely thin, making it elegant and compact. Notably, the case thickness is unchanged from the standard version, despite the stone-set bezel.

The titanium model with a white dial

Described by the brand as Flat Tortue, the case shape is atypical for F.P. Journe and only found on one other model, the Vagabondage. The reason behind the shape requires a long detour into F.P Journe history, but in short, the resemblance to the case of another brand is not a coincidence.

The insides of Gino’s Dream are identical to the standard model, namely the cal. 1210. It’s unusual simply for being an in-house quartz movement – no other brand of F.P. Journe’s small size makes its own quartz movements as it is not economical. But knowing Mr Journe, there is no other way.

Originally conceived as a no-fuss, robust movement, the cal. 1210 has a unique “sleep” feature. The tiny rotor visible at four o’clock on the dial is actually a motion detector. When the watch is stationary for 35 minutes, the movement begins hibernation: the hands halt but the movement continues to keep time electronically. When the watch is picked up, causing the rotor to swing, the movement awakes and the hands move to show the current time.

Sleep mode gives the Élégante a long battery life. In standard, time-telling mode, the watch run for eight to ten years, while in “sleep” mode the battery will last up to 18 years.

The round aperture at four reveals the motion detector rotor

Even visually, the cal. 1210 is fancier than run-of-the-mill quartz movements, making it one of the few electronic calibres that deserves a display back. It sports a red gold-plated bridge that also serves as a battery cover, along with solid red gold tracks on the circuit board, a nod to the solid-gold bridges found in the brand’s mechanical movements.

Key facts and price

F.P. Journe Élégante Gino’s Dream

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 7.95 mm
Material: Titanium or Titalyt-coated titanium, bezel set with 52 baguette-cut ceramic stones
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1210
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
: Quartz
Power reserve: 8-10 years in standard mode, 18 years in standby mode

Strap: Rubber with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Availability: At F.P. Journe boutiques and retailers
Price: CHF34,500 before taxes

For more, visit Fpjourne.com.


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