François-Paul Journe has become one of the biggest names in watchmaking, taking home numerous accolades in the relatively short time he’s been in the business. Winning the Special Jury prize of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2002 for the F.P. Journe Octa Calendrier, this watch is an excellent look into mind of Journe, and his dedication to elegance and chronometric precision.
Producing just under a thousand pieces a year, getting your hands on one of Journe’s timepieces has become increasingly difficult due to his growing popularity. Getting a chance to see three Octa Calendrier models in the same place is something of note, but add in the mix that one is the boutique exclusive ‘black label’, and this would be like seeing Halley’s comet sailing by twice in a fortnight. However, while demand is extremely high with the watches that Journe produces, there are some, like the Octa Calendrier, that people sometimes overlook as the best Journe watch to get.
While upon first glance the Octa Calendrier may seem like any other annual calendar but with a Journe aesthetic, I promise that it is unlike any other. An inspection around the case will show no recessed or hidden buttons to change the month, day, or date. The annual calendar function requires an adjustment at the end of February for the advancement into March to be correct, but in true Journe fashion the Oca Calendrier has a trick up its sleeve. All functions of the watch are adjusted via the crown, which means you’ll never struggle figuring out which corrector does what, or worse trying to remember where you put the corrector pin tool. This nifty party trick allows for the mid-case to remain uniform and without the correctors you’d typically find on a watch with this complication.
Reading the Octa Calendrier, everything feels very natural with the layout on the dial. The complications are not made to fit within the dial of the watch, as you’d see in a more conventional design. The information is sectioned off in a way that allows for the user to not have to navigate through the dial to find things. The date retrograde follows the outer circumference of the dial just opposite to double stacked hours and minutes with seconds and the oversize month and day nestled between the two sections. Framed with the quintessential Journe aesthetic of that mix between of 19th century watchmaking with a touch of the avant-garde.
With the dial divided into different layers with the three time telling elements, the depth between the complications allow for that ease of use. The added contrast between the dial and the complications help define the complication and the information presented—this is especially true with the stark contrast on the ‘black edition’.
Journe’s movements have evolved in material innovation over the years, with the earlier references being made from brass prior to 2005. With the movements now being made of gold, it would be a great shame to hide it away with a solid caseback. Thankfully that is not the case, as the beautiful movement is on full display through the sapphire caseback. Showcasing the movement’s decoration with a mix of perlage, circular stripes with a sunray finish, and the off-centre gold rotor finished with a Barleycorn Guilloché pattern. Beating away at a frequency of 3Hz (21,600 vph) users will see 120 hours of power reserve from the single mainspring. The cal. 1300.3 is adjusted to five positions and features a free sprung balance adjusted to five positions, which ensures that level of accuracy demanded by Journe.
While the watch has a water resistance rating of 30 meters/100 feet, it means you don’t need to worry about it while enjoying piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain. With a case dimension of 40mm the Octa Calendrier is adaptable to a wide rage of wrist sizes, and with a thickness of 10.6mm you almost forget it’s even on.
I think in the midst of the frenzy over some of the pieces in the Journe catalogue, the Octa Calendrier is the true cup of the carpenter. With the extraordinary ease of setting the watch even if you haven’t worn it in the past 5 days (which would be rather difficult otherwise), it allows for the user to just re-set the time quickly and embark on the next journey. Many people go far and wide to search for a watch that is perfectly suited for daily wear. The Octa Calendrier should be a serious consideration for that role, and with three different dials to choose from the tough decision is which one to go with!