In-Depth With The Highly Complicated F.P.Journe Astronomic Blue For Only Watch 2019
Highly complicated timepieces are rarely released today. Yet for Only Watch 2019, François-Paul Journe brought together the best of what mechanical watchmaking can offer to tell the mysteries of the heavens via poetry and music. Bravo!
In the beginning, it was emptiness... Then, the great watchmaker unleashed a chain reaction that was to give birth to the first second of life, then the first hour, then the sky and stars, culminating in the Earth with its natural satellite, the Moon. To pay tribute to nature and the magic it embodies, F.P.Journe has created a unique piece forged in tantalum with an exceptional movement for its 2019 contribution to the Only Watch charity auction.
Pushing complexity to the limits of the possible
This incredible timepiece – with 18 total complications housed in a 44 mm diameter case made from tantalum, a metal with one of the highest known melting points. Furthermore, the watch boasts a minute repeater with Grand Sonnerie. Powered by an 18-carat rose gold mechanical movement with a manual winding double-barrel mainspring. The regulator defies the rules of gravity thanks to its 60-second tourbillon and remontoir d’egalité. Poetic considering the piece is intended to account for celestial events occurring in a weightless vacuum where the gravity is not a factor.
Additionally, the Astronomic Blue is equipped with a blue chrome dial with silver “shutters” accounting for the daily movement of the sun. Visible through a window at 12 o'clock, the “shutters” close (or open) to indicate the day’s length even factoring in the latitude of a chosen place.
But having an idea of the time based on the height of the sun in the sky is not enough. In a sub-dial placed at 3 o'clock is the "average hour" complication with minutes indicated by a large golden hand starting from the center of the main dial. On the same sub-dial, you'll also find a mechanism to synchronize a second time-zone (indicated by a blue hand). Furthermore, the rare yet useful sidereal time – which is especially appreciated by astronomers – can be read in hours and minutes via the 9 o'clock sub-dial.
Finally, the power reserve indicator, with a total reserve of 42 hours, is located at 6 o’clock with two displays flanking it. To the left, for lovers of absolute accuracy, are the deadbeat seconds. To the right, preserving the dial’s symmetry is a moon phase affixed on a sapphire disk to accentuate the illusion of levitation.
Unveiling the invisible
Currently, the estimate at Christie's is between 300,000 and 600,000 CHF. However, given the complexity and rarity of this timepiece, we can only predict that the winning bid will easily exceed the estimate. With 758 components, F.P.Journe took the additional step of placing an Equation of Time complication on the back of the watch to ensure optimum dial readability.
Finely engraved on the back is an annual calendar that includes the signs of the Zodiac and days of the year while taking into account months with 30 or 31 days. In doing so, this movement provides the ultimate luxury associated with the equation of time (more or less 15 minutes ahead or behind the time displayed on the 3 o’clock sub-dial). With this solar time display, the science nerd or astronomy enthusiast can calculate longitude accurately.
And, it will be all the more accurate, as it is equipped with the caliber 1619 with a tourbillon regulated by the brand’s famous spring equalizer blade, which resets every second to ensure the dead second complication. This exceptional watch is hypotonic in all respects because of these indications, from the simplest to the most complicated, are all set with only the winding crown.
The Astronomic Blue has been assembled, disassembled, improved, and reworked. Living in more ways than one, it will soon be auctioned to help preserve life, specifically sufferers of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Once sold, the Astronomic Blue will be the brightest star in one lucky collector's galaxy.