F.P. Journe is primarily a complicated dress watch manufacturer and a damn good one. In a market segment that is possibly the least hyped in the industry, Journe’s timepieces inspire large premiums and long waitlists, but don’t get it twisted; Journe is no one-trick pony. The brand’s sports watches, though a bit lesser-known, are equally as drool-worthy, and I think they offer an interesting and original alternative to the more popular sports watches dominating the market today. Not convinced? May I direct your attention to this platinum F.P. Journe Chronographe Rattrapante.
This Chronograph Rattrapante was born out of a unique combination. Its movement and monopusher design are based on the tantalum split-seconds chronograph F.P. Journe presented at Only Watch in 2017, but the case is taken from Journe’s Linesport collection. The once well-loved dressy tantalum piece unique has been reborn into a distinctly sporty watch ready for the racetrack like its Linesport siblings.
However, this watch brings with it something not seen before in Journe’s sports line or rather leaves something behind. You see, the original version of this watch was introduced in 2018, and while this watch is similar, there is one key detail that this latest version omits. Rubber bumpers. These bumpers were a contentious but constant trait on watches in the Linesport collection, and this newest Chronograph Rattrapante from 2020 has no rubber on it. None, this baby is just a good old fashioned all metal sports watch as our good lord intended, and man, does it look good. This small but crucial change makes a big difference, and hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for the rest of Journe’s sports line.
While the watch has a lot in common with its Linepport siblings, this hammered finished platinum Chronographe Rattrapante stands apart from pretty much everything else in the watch world. As I mentioned, the rubber bumpers are gone and what’s left is a pretty similar-looking watch just sans those bumpers and a uniquely finished platinum. From afar, the finishing doesn’t stand out much, but upon closer inspection, it’s one of the best details on this watch. Aside from some strategically placed polished bevels, the whole watch has a raw, sandblasted look that’s almost elemental or organic. It’s as if the watch and bracelet were pulled from the earth, and all Journe did was a little shaping and cleaning around the edges.
The case measures 44mm by 12.1mm, giving it a flat saucer-like appearance, and while 44mm may sound intimidating, the bracelet integration and design are essentially lugless, making the timepiece much more wearable than other 44mm watches. Journe specifically engineered the articulation of the bracelet and its links to help with wearability, and the watch comes with a folding clasp that allows for up to 5mm of adjustment. As always, the experience of the wearer is top of mind with Journe creations.
Another interesting and original detail on this watch is the blue-mauve dial color. Despite its name, the dial is not really blue but rather a deep purple, a “Navy Purple,” if you will, with a matte finish. While most purple watches might be a bit loud, this purple is actually fairly versatile, maybe more versatile than even a blue dial timepiece, as the purple works better with red tones. Color me impressed.
If you can stop staring at the intriguing purple hue and study the rest of the dial, you’ll find a whopping six different hands. There’s, of course, an hour and minute hand, but there are also two split-seconds chronograph hands at the center and a running seconds hand, and a thirty-minute chronograph counter in the white gold surrounded subdials. Additionally, you’ll find a large two disk date window at six o’clock. A lot of chronographs forgo the date complication, but I personally use the complication too much to buy a watch without it, and I appreciate its inclusion here. Overall the design of the dial is really well done. It’s bilaterally symmetrical, with easy legibility on all read-outs and some great aesthetic touches. I think it does a great job balancing what could easily be an overwhelming amount of details.
That said, my absolute favorite detail on this watch is the odd numerals in the tachymeter scale on the bezel. Journe watches almost always have distinct numerals, but the ones seen here are unique even for Journe. They’re a little hard to pin down, and I can only describe them as cartoonish, like if comic sans and Helvetica had a baby. While they might look a little out of place or random to some, they’re actually a subtle nod to this watch’s parent. The numeral style was used on the tachymeter scale on the split-seconds chronograph from only watch 2017 that inspired this one. It’s fun; it’s whimsical; it’s historically accurate. I love it.
Powering this Chronographe Rattrapante is the in-house manual winding caliber 1518, which is heavily based on the 1517 featured in the only watch chronograph. The movement is made almost entirely of red gold with brass and steel wheels and levers. If you haven’t seen a Journe movement before, they’re something to behold, the high quality of finishing and unique pinkish hue of the red gold gives them an old-world charm not often seen in modern movements. Despite the vintage-esque vibe of the finishing, this is a thoroughly modern Rattrapante chronograph with an 80-hour power reserve and monopusher operation. The top pusher is used for start, stop and reset to zero all on its own and the bottom pusher is for activating the rattrapante split-seconds hand. Beauty and brawn this is a powerful time tracking tool.
Versus the competition
If you’re in the market for an integrated bracelet chronograph and you want the best of the best, you have to consider the Patek Philippe 5980. Sure the Nautilus is on the wrist of every actor and rockstar, and it’s a bit played out now, but there’s a reason for that. Patek has been widely regarded as one of the best watchmakers in the world for centuries, and that’s not an exaggeration. If the only knock you have on a watch is that it’s popular, I think it’s worth pondering why.
Another watch you should consider is the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Double Split. It’s decidedly less sporty, but unlike the Nautilus, it does have a split chronograph complication, and it is also made of platinum. Like Journe, Lange has a bit of street cred as being more of an insider’s choice than, say, Patek or Audemars Piguet, but with a level of quality that rivals both of them. If you still want to stay off the beaten path but aren’t vibing with Journe’s unique aesthetic, the Datograph is a bit more classic. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
This watch has the personality of a Formula One Team Principal. The refined lack of rubber bumpers, performance-driven movement, and luxurious precious metal construction reminds me of a former racer who now uses their mind more than their body to teach and shape the next crop of elite racers. It’s a tool for the track for sure, just one you wouldn’t want to be mangled in a crash.
Journe is all about doing things his own way, and this watch really showcases that. With its unique and ergonomic case and bracelet design, and purplish dial, this watch rejects the status quo with every fiber of its being. Its wearer should too.