The expanding interest in fine watches among women has not gone unnoticed by fine watchmakers. As undeniable proof, there are not only more serious watches now available for women, but many watch brands are devoting entire collections—and not only of the high-jewelry variety—to ladies. Rather than simply dressing up a more diminutive version of a man’s watch with a sprinkle of diamonds and a colorful strap (not that there’s anything at all wrong with that), these “new” watches have a feminine sensibility as well as many of the watchmaking bells and whistles that have so long been reserved mostly for men. And why not? It’s never good business to ignore a viable segment of the market—especially one with disposable income to match its enthusiasm.
Thus I was really intrigued to learn that watchmaker extraordinaire F.P. Journe, whose motto is Invenit et Fecit (Latin for, He invented it and made it.), was offering his first ladies collection. While introducing the watch in Geneva in January (it will be available in May), Mr. Journe explained that the F.P. Journe Elegante, as it is named, took eight years of research to develop the electro-mechanical movement alone. According to the company, the watch offers the wearer about 10 years of use when worn and up to 18 years in standby mode. Standby mode?
Interestingly, the F.P. Journe Elegante features a mechanical motion detector visible on the dial somewhere between 4 and 5 o’clock. When the watch is not in use, it stops after about 30 minutes. While in standby, the microprocessor continues to keep time, but the gears, rotors and hands stop moving to conserve energy. When the watch is again worn, it automatically sets itself to the correct time. The coolest part, again in the pursuit of saving energy, is that the watch hands will take the shortest path to the correct time—either clockwise or counter clockwise. All the mechanical elements of the F.P. Journe Elegante movement are manufactured by F.P. Journe’s Geneva-based manufactory, while the electronic components were developed by a Swiss engineer and also made in Switzerland.
The case comes in platinum, red gold (with a black dial) and titanium, each with diamond options on the case and dial, and the smooth rubber strap, bezel and case accents come in complementary colors according to the metal. The platinum case is paired with midnight blue, while the red gold version is complemented by “chocolate.” The titanium watch tops out at seven strap-color options: white, rose, midnight blue, chocolate, light blue, burgundy and khaki green. The dial features highly legible Arabic numerals, with small seconds at 6 o’clock. The titanium watch has a luminescent dial that seems to light from its very soul.
I must say that I’m impressed with the many details of this watch, which is fitted with a sapphire case back to view the movement. No doubt as a nod to its feminine audience, a heart is visible at the location of the microprocessor—the heart of the watch, according to Mr. Journe. The engraving on the back reads, F.P. Journe, Ivenit et Fecit, élégante, Calibre 1210, Geneva Made, 18 Jewels. It also states, “exclusive and patented system.” The electro-mechanical movement has a patented two-rotor motor and a quartz frequency of 32000Hz.
So is this really just another quartz watch for women—a pandering appeal to our collective reputation for disliking the winding and setting involved in a manually wound mechanical watch? Not in my opinion. I give it five stars for its thoughtful design, inventive use of technology and impeccable pedigree—not to mention its accuracy, which, after all, is a big part of keeping time.
More resources about the F.P. Journe Elegante available on ABTW (Hands-On).