F-P-Journe-T-30-30th-Anniversary-Tourbillon

A Legend Reborn: The F.P. Journe T30 Tourbillon

Today, we have the privilege of covering one of the single most important watches produced in the last 100 years. That is certainly a hefty claim to make, but after understanding this watch, I have no doubt you will agree. This is the 2013 30th anniversary F.P. Journe T30 Tourbillon, limited to only 99 examples in a fascinating combination of 940 sterling silver and 18kt rose gold. Important both historically and mechanically for F.P. Journe, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to explore this timepiece in detail. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

History

Although F.P. Journe as a brand was not founded until 1999, Francois-Paul Journe began working in the industry much earlier. Journe went to technical school in 1972 to learn about horology, working in his uncle’s clock repair shop to handle classic works from the likes of Breguet and Antide Janvier. Working on several commissioned projects for clients privately, Journe desperately wanted to make his own pocket watch, and by 1983, he had done just that. The impressive pocket watch was not a simple one. Outfitted with a tourbillon, two barrels, and a detent escapement, Journe’s first watch was more complicated than what many watchmakers ever are able to complete. In many ways, this watch was the unofficial start to the modern Journe brand. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

This impressive timepiece set the stage for Journe’s ambitious and indefatigable journey to create some of the most impressive watches in the industry. In 2013, having built up a successful empire of sorts, and growing in popularity rapidly, Journe chose to commemorate the 30th anniversary since the creation of his first pocket watch with the release of a special wristwatch based on the aesthetics of this original watch. The result was the 99 piece limited edition Journe T30 Tourbillon we are discussing today. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Design Details

The Journe T30 Tourbillon is directly modeled after the aesthetics of Journe’s original 1983 pocket watch. The dial is executed with a subtle silver graining, although it is much more sophisticated than meets the eye. The numerals aren’t simply printed. Instead, they have been carved into the dial substrate and then filled with ink. The layout of this dial is almost an exact 1:1 replica of the pocket watch’s dial. While the original piece said “Journe A Paris”, the new version now says “Journe” alongside the brand’s slogan “Invenit et Fecit”.

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Framing the time display and subsidiary seconds sit two blued screws affixing the dial to movement. The hands of the watch are fashioned in Breguet style, and then fire-blued in accordance with tradition. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

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Moving on from the dial to discuss the watch as a whole, the piece has an 18k rose gold domed bezel and matching rose gold half-hunter style caseback and crown. The mid case is constructed from sterling silver and an inlaid piece of silver sits within the hinged back of the case. These sterling silver elements were guillochéd by Journe, adding a level of texture and ornamentation to the case. It’s not frequent that we see silver on any case, but this piece is not a typical watch, and thus, Journe has taken this piece a step beyond the norm. The pin buckle continued this theme of contrasting silver and gold with a gold buckle and a silver pin. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

This piece is just over 40mm in diameter, but is still quite svelte, meaning that the watch maintains its wearability. The watch sort of has a pocket watch like quality, which does make sense seeing as the piece was intended as an homage to the significant pocket watch. The T30 captures the allure of the early Journe creations within a modern package. 

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Inner Workings

Within the F.P. Journe Anniversary Tourbillon T30 is the manually wound caliber 1412. Although this movement doesn’t have the pocket-watch style detent escapement of Journe’s first watch, it still maintains the layout and aesthetics that define the original. The isolated tourbillon, with its prominent bridge and cage, isolated at the bottom of the movement from the gear train that it connects to to maintain the open quality it has. At the top of the movement are the two barrels and their supports, fashioned after the look of Breguet pocket watches from the 18th century. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Even though Journe began placing rose gold movements inside his pieces in 2004, to keep the T30 consistent with early Journe, this watch features a brass movement. Every screwed-down component has been fixed with very large blued-screws within polished recesses. Thick anglage is especially magnificent on this piece, and the finishing on the tourbillon cage is exceptionally mirror polished to a brilliant sheen. This piece also has an oversized balance wheel that’s free-sprung. The goal here is to make the piece a bit more resilient to shocks and impacts than a smaller balance would be. We have often seen brands replicate the aesthetics of a watch, but I personally feel that homages that include a recreation of a movement design or look (for example the 321 Ed White by Omega), are perhaps even more interesting. This one is a wild success. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Versus the Competition

The first watch that comes to mind as an alternative to the T30 at a much more affordable price point is the Breguet Tradition collection. The Tradition shares a number of similarities with the Journe T30. Firstly, Breguet introduced the collection as a recreation of the historic souscription pocket watches from early Breguet history. Like the T30, the collection was designed to highlight a historically significant component of the brand heritage through a tasteful replica of the movement construction. The Tradition preserves the bridge layout and finishing of the souscription pocket watch pieces, and features the same bridge structures we see on the T30. This makes sense since Breguet was one of Journe’s biggest influences. The bridge design we see on both these pieces was characteristic of 18th century pieces like the souscription line. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

The next watch that is of note is the 1815 tourbillon, albeit for different reasons. Lange saw its beginnings in the pocket watch space, and maintains many of the stylistic influences of the pivotal era. Thus, much like this Journe, the 1815 tourbillon feels a bit like a pocket watch with lugs. The slab sided case, three-quarter plate on the caseback, monstrous tourbillon, Arabic numerals and blued steel hands are all characteristic of pocket watches. On top of this, both the Lange and the Journe share the tourbillon complication, although Journe has taken the traditional Swiss route from a finishing standpoint, while Lange has opted to stay true to its Germanic roots. 

Lastly, to provide some contrast between the Journe (designs) of old and the Journe of today, consider this Journe boutique exclusive “Black Label” Tourbillon. A beautiful wrist watch, the Tourbillon Souverain has a tourbillon aperture on the left side of the dial balanced by the time display at 3 o’clock. At 12 is a power reserve and at 6 is the seconds subsidiary dial. This isn’t just a standard seconds complication however. The constant force remontoir within this movement generates a natural dead beat seconds. This effectively means that rather than ticking several times a second, the dead beat seconds ticks once per second like a quartz watch. Regardless, the constant force system adds a degree of accuracy to the chronometric performance of the piece, enhancing the timekeeping (and the complication). This piece also provides a good comparison in that it uses a rose gold movement like all modern Journes, unlike the Journe T30. 

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Personality

The collector that buys the Journe T30 is likely a die-hard Journe fan. Although this piece epitomizes the history of Journe, it’s likely not the first Journe the owner will have. This is the type of piece a well-seasoned collector buys as a grail. Having multiple Journes, this watch would serve as a crown jewel of a collection, perhaps alongside a Souscription Resonance or Tourbillon. As a result of the fact that only 99 of these exist, only 99 of the many Journe enthusiasts will have the ability to simultaneously own these treasures. 

Additionally, these watches are fixtures in the collections they live in, thus, it’s not particularly common to find one of them on the market. These don’t last long, with many collectors waiting for one of these to come up for sale so they can pounce. If you are looking for a Journe T30, you should probably act fast!

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F.P. Journe T30 30th Anniversary Tourbillon

Final Thoughts

The F.P. Journe 30th Anniversary T30 Tourbillon is one of the most important watches in the brand’s story. A reminder of just how far Journe has come since 1983, sometimes we need watches like the T30 to underscore both Journe’s inspiration and the evolution of his style from the original pocket watch until the modern releases. One thing that has certainly not changed since the beginning is Journe’s unrelenting commitment to quality and respect for the classical makers that came before him. Who knows what will come in the next 30 years of Journe. Few have accomplished so much in so little time.  

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