F.P. Journe has maintained a distinctive style when designing timepieces. one that dates back to the early days of his career. This F.P. Journe Octa Chronographe Ruthenium limited edition is Journe’s first chronograph reference, and one that fits his original aesthetic even more than the current chronographs on offer from the brand. The fact that this is a very early brass movement, and a rare ruthenium limited edition just adds to why this particular watch is in especially high demand amongst collectors of the brand.
The original brass movement Octa Chronographe was first introduced in 2001, only a couple of years after the brand was launched. This version of the Octa Chronographe was introduced in 2002, along with three other Ruthenium edition pieces: the Chronomètre À Résonance, the Tourbillon Souverain, and the Octa Jour/Nuit. In 2003, Journe released the Octa Calendrier as the last of the Ruthenium limited editions. All of these pieces were limited to 99 pieces for each version, but because of how low a quantity the brand produced, especially in those early years, it took several years for each of these to be manufactured. After the Octa Chronographe, the brand moved to the Centigraphe Souveraine, which measures 1/100th of a second, and is still in production today. The latest chronograph offered by the brand is the lineSport Chronographe Rattrapante, which is a split-seconds chronograph.
The Ruthenium dial is going to be the highlight of this model. This dial is made with a Ruthenium-coated gold plate, and then the remainder of the dial features a whitened guilloché Silver. The multi-layer dial is held together by screws on the dial plates, which was the brand’s preferred method. One small detail that can help enthusiasts immediately identify that this is a Ruthenium edition is that these models used a grey with white numerals date indicator that matched the color of the dial to the date wheel.
Only the ruthenium versions had that design choice, and all other variations made used a large white date wheel with black numerals. All hands are beautifully blued steel that allows easy reading against the white backgrounds. The 40mm case is high polished platinum, featuring a domed bezel and the seamless integration of the lugs to the case in typical Journe fashion. This timepiece is only about 10mm thick, so it is perfect for fitting under the cuff of a dress shirt. The crown and pushers all share the spiral design wrapping around their edges. A double-sided black alligator strap accompanies this Journe timepiece with a platinum pin buckle.
As most Journe enthusiasts know, in the very early years of the brand, brass movements were used in all the timepieces. This is no exception; however, this model received a ruthenium coating on the movement rather than the traditional rhodium plating most brass movements receive. The ruthenium coating gives the metal a much darker look than the bright silver of rhodium. The caliber is the F.P. Journe caliber 1300, containing an automatic flyback chronograph with a large date and over 120 hours of power reserve, a world-first in a wristwatch.
The movement’s base plate features a perlage treatment, and the bridges have a circular striping. The golden elements of the balance wheel, gears, and engraved writing on the movement contrast even more due to the darkness of the mainplate and bridges. The immaculately guillochéd rotor has a very unique color due to the coating over the gold, appearing as blackened gold, for lack of better terminology. All in all, this movement is just as unique and distinctive as the rest of the timepiece.
Versus The Competition
Few timepieces are easily comparable to the masterpiece that is the F.P. Journe Octa Chronographe in Ruthenium; however, the Patek Philippe 5070P more than holds its own in comparison. Both of these pieces were manufactured around similar period, are very limited in production, and are both platinum chronographs. That said, there are some critical differences. While the Journe was the first in-house manufactured chronograph from this brand, the Patek was the brand’s last major non-in-house chronograph watch. The Patek is the more traditional style for a chronograph, featuring no additional complications and a balanced dial layout. The 5070P is also a manual winding caliber with a 58-hour power reserve. Because there is no rotor, this movement can be even more pleasing to onlookers due to the complexity of this caliber. Both pieces are incredibly sought after for similar and divergent reasons, and either would make fantastic additions to any collection.
The collectors who seek out a piece like this Octa Chronographe Ruthenium are generally well educated in the craft and far along in their personal collecting journey. Most would have done their homework and are just sitting in wait for an opportunity to add such a rare piece to their collections. This piece will typically fit alongside many other exceptional pieces, such as other F.P. Journes, some Pateks or Langes, and other high-profile independents like Kari Voutilainen or Gronefeld. It definitely won’t be the collector’s first piece and surely won’t be the last.
The Ruthenium Octa Chronographe is a piece that is worthy of the highest praises. It is beautiful, truly unique, and a watch that will stand the test of time. Its rarity will make it something many watch enthusiasts most likely will never see in person, but its looks will make it unforgettable for those that do.