I’ve gone on record about this before, but one of my biggest gripes with many complicated watches is that the complication of the movement often overflows into the user’s experience with the watch. That shouldn’t be the case. Great products, no matter how complex, should not be complicated to use. Thankfully there are some watchmakers and brands who agree with me on this. With the F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel Boutique edition, Journe takes what is commonly a tough type of watch to read and interact with, and makes it effortless and intuitive. Honestly, it’s probably the easiest to read and set perpetual calendar wristwatch on the market and is certainly one of the best looking.
The first F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel was released in 2015. It was the first-ever perpetual calendar wristwatch with an instantaneous jumping digital display. The day, date, and month all change in near-perfect unison. In fact, the only way you can record the jump is via an extremely high-speed camera. In fact, Journe had to use a special high-speed camera during the watch’s development to ensure that the synchronization of the change was in sync. The first version of the Quantième Perpétuel was undoubtedly one of the most simple and legible perpetual calendar watches ever made, but with the updated version, Journe managed to refine the design even further.
The watch we have here is the latest version of the Quantième Perpétuel, which was introduced in 2020. This latest version gets rid of the egg-shaped inner dial and the polished bezel that surrounds it—instead opting for a more cohesive look utilizing one solid silver dial. This model is available in four variants, two rose gold watches and two in platinum, with each metal made available with two dials. The rose gold and platinum models with silver dials were made available at Journe boutiques and resellers, while the stunning matte navy blue dial version was only made available at official Journe boutiques. This rose gold version with a blue dial is one of the rare and coveted boutique-only editions that has come to be so desirable by the watch collecting community over the years.
Rose gold and Navy blue are among my favorite color combinations. They were heavily featured at my wedding, and I think the combo has an amazing ability to appear timelessly elegant and modern at the same time. Because of that, I was immediately drawn to this watch. Its curvy case, which looks almost molten in rose gold, and its contrasting matte navy blue had me instantly sold. Perfection.
The case shape will look familiar to any F.P. Journe fans as Journe utilizes it across most of his watch lines. This distinctly organic—and now trademark look—is famously ergonomic and serves as the perfect foundation for Journe’s formal but wearable timepieces. This specific watch measures at a slightly large but still versatile 42mm in diameter and a svelte 11mm in thickness. This can be on the boundary of “too big” for some collectors, but by and large its a size that should fit well on most wrists. Journe’s timepieces are particularly comfortable, and details like the downturned lugs and fully articulating strap make this watch more wearable than many other 42mm diameter watches. The strap included here is a honey brown alligator leather strap complete with curved spring bars that allow the strap to fit snuggly against the case. This gives a more integrated look and makes the whole timepiece appear more cohesive.
Speaking of navy blue, the dial on this watch is gorgeous. Journe doesn’t often do blue dials, but man, did he do a great job with this one. Made of solid silver, the dial has a matte finish with a clous de Paris engine-turned center. This helps separate the digital read-outs of the calendar, the leap year indicator, and power reserve from the hours and minutes. In general, the layout of the watch is excellent. Instead of numerous subdials displaying all the days of the week, months of the year, etc., this Quantième Perpétuel utilizes elegantly framed digital read-outs to display only what you need to know. You’ll find the day and month just under twelve, the date above six, the power reserve to the right of nine, and the leap year indicator discretely tucked underneath the hour and minute hands at the center of the dial. What this does is gives the watch a very purposeful visual hierarchy.
On some perpetual calendar timepieces, there can be so much information thrown at you that even a seasoned watch enthusiast will need a full explanation of how to read it. On the Quantième Perpétuel, however, everything makes perfect sense. Even if you were to borrow the watch and have no interest in the day, date, month, or year, none of those details get in the way of the timepiece’s most basic function, telling the time. It’s a masterclass in simplicity, and all other perpetual calendars should take notice.
Even setting the timepiece is intuitive. Instead of utilizing multiple dimples or pushers in the case or requiring a special tool to help set the watch—again another common trait on other perpetual calendars—the Quantième Perpétuel has a discreet pull tab hidden behind the lug just above one o’clock. One simply pulls out the tab with their fingernail and pulls the trigger to change the months, and then everything else is simply set with the crown. Viola! Once again, Journe shows how important user-focused design can be, and it’s one of the reasons his watches are so beloved.
Inside this elegant and user-friendly perpetual calendar is the in-house caliber 1300.3. This is notably the first-ever movement to power a unanimously changing digital display of the month, day, and date. It’s an automatic winding, almost entirely rose gold movement, with an impressive 120-hour power reserve—160 in total but 120 while maintaining accuracy. Now, ordinarily, perpetual calendar watches are a bit complicated to set, and thus a long power reserve would be a big relief as it would mean you wouldn’t have the laborious task of setting the day, date, month, and time just because you left your complicated timepiece home for the weekend. On this watch, it’s still very nice and convenient but less of a concern. Honestly, setting the month looks kind of fun. On a more aesthetic note, you’ll notice a large 22-carat winding rotor with a very attractive barleycorn guilloché finishing on it and some beautifully finished and beveled bridges. The Caliber 1300.3 is as beautiful as it is complicated and the rose gold gives it a distinct warmth not found on other movements.
Versus The Competition
The Quantième Perpétuel has a very clean and simple design, especially for a Perpetual Calendar, but the H. Moser Endeavor Perpetual Calendar is simpler still. In fact, the Endeavor Perpetual Calendar might be the simplest perpetual calendar ever made. Instead of cluttering the dial with various windows displaying the month, date, and leap year, Moser decided to use the already existing 12-hour markers to represent the 12 months of the year denoted with a small arrow-shaped hand at the center of the dial. It’s a solution so simple that it is insane it’s not on more watches. We have a full write-up on the minimalist Endeavor here. For any fan of minimalist design, this is a must-have.
Another perpetual calendar option that might be more suitable for someone with more traditional tastes is the Patek Philippe 5140R. This 5140R is from 2014 and is a more modern descendent of the legendary 3940. While the dial is more information-rich and possibly more intimidating than the Moser or Journe, it’s a classic design that’s well implemented and doesn’t take long to learn. Patek Philippe is known for its complicated watches and its perpetual calendar timepieces in particular. This is one of the brand’s more important timepieces, and it truly embodies what Patek Philippe is all about. If the Journe and Moser are a bit too avant-garde for your taste, take comfort in the resolutely traditional Patek Philippe 5140R.
This F.P. Journe Quantième Perpétuel is for the modern watch enthusiast. This is a watch built for someone who appreciates the past and can be inspired by it but remains committed to moving forward. The Quantième Perpétuel offers just that with a design that’s timeless but also manages to re-imagine an old complication and offer it in an innovative wearer-friendly package.
If all watch brands thought like F.P. Journe, I think the watch landscape would be a much more diverse and fun place. But they don’t, and F.P. Journe is one of the few watchmakers creating timepieces as great as the Quantième Perpétuel, and that’s precisely why it’s so damn great.