Icons On Icons: An F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland Meets Its Ancestor
What do you get when you bring together one of F.P.Journe’s hottest pieces and a Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ side-by-side shotgun from the 19th century?
When the F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland was released in 2017, it sparked a fire within me that has yet to be extinguished. I was one of the many collectors who missed out on acquiring an F.P.Journe Chronomètre Bleu before they became absolutely unobtainable, so this timepiece seemed like the next best thing. Or it did, until I learned this 66-piece limited edition was “invite-only” and only open to members of the Journe Society and Holland & Holland’s top customers.
While the F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland Limited Edition was sold out long ago, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at an unpublished photoshoot done by Watchonista in 2017. My colleague, Watchonista’s Co-Founder Marco Gabella, had an heirloom Holland & Holland 'Royal' side-by-side shotgun in his family's collection, and we thought, what could be better than to pair this amazingly engraved work of art with another masterpiece: the Chronomètre Holland & Holland.
Founded in 1835, the United Kingdom-based gunmaker Holland & Holland has been producing finely crafted sporting rifles and shotguns for almost two centuries. Similar to F.P.Journe, the company prides itself on craftsmanship and exclusivity. Case in point, Holland & Holland’s average prices range from $40,000 for a sporting rifle to upwards of $250,000 for a hand-engraved 'Royal’ side-by-side shotgun.
One of the reasons the Chronomètre Holland & Holland spoke to me was that shooting sports run in my blood. My great-grandfather, Oscar Peacock, was a Senior National Champion trap shooter (with his Winchester Model 12) in 1983. And thanks to my father, I was exposed to the sport at a very early age. This also gives me the opportunity to (finally!) mention I was the 1992 4H Pistol Shooting Champion of Indiana. Again, thanks, Dad! And it is this sort of sentimentality that probably led countless others to crave the Chronomètre Holland & Holland.
Holland & Holland founder Harris Holland participated in numerous competition pigeon shoots, which led him to found the eponymous gunmaker. Today, the gunmaker has expanded its production into clothing and other unisex lifestyle accessories. F.P.Journe and Holland & Holland are both wholly or partially owned by the Chanel S.A. luxury group.
Meeting Its Maker
When Marco brought out his family’s Holland & Holland side-by-side shotgun, the final piece in this photoshoot was put into place. As you can see in the images, this exquisitely engraved shotgun pairs perfectly with the Chronomètre Holland & Holland. And while F.P.Journe’s creations are undoubtedly rare, Holland & Holland's hand-engraved presentation-grade shotguns eclipse even the finest of timepieces.
To understand the craftsmanship that goes into a Holland & Holland creation, look at the receiver. This hand-engraved part holds the shotgun's firing mechanism, trigger, and all components involved in the firing of the gun. On Marco's example (circa. 1890-1910), you'll notice an intricate European-style scroll. This process is done by a master engraver using a burin or graver, to inscribe outstanding details into the steel receiver. Much like the art of watch engraving, master engravers can etch details on any number of materials just as easily as us mere mortals can draw on paper.
For the F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland, the Holland & Holland museum donated two 100-year-old barrels to F.P. Journe for use in this limited edition. The two barrels were No. 1382, from 1868, and barrel No. 7183, from 1882. From the two barrels, F.P.Journe’s dial makers were able to extract 66 total dials. The company’s ledger states that barrel No. 1382 yielded 38 dials, while barrel No. 7183, yielded 28 dials. The end result was the production of 66 Damascus steel dials each with their own unique character and texture.
The term 'Damascus steel' refers to a method of twisting steel to produce a round barrel, and it dates as far back as 600 AD when Vikings used the process of pattern welding to create their rudimentary swords. Flash forward two millennia when F.P.Journe’s dial makers, “Les Cadraniers de Genève,” extracted rounds from Holland & Holland barrels to produce the dials for the F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland. The rounds were flattened and then sent back to Holland & Holland for a “browning” treatment.
More details on the dial making can be seen via the video below.
The F.P.Journe Chronomètre Holland & Holland
While the Chronomètre Holland & Holland shares many common traits with its sibling, the Chronomètre Bleu, there are a few distinct differences. First, as an ode to the steel used in gun barrels, the Chronomètre Holland & Holland has a 39mm case made of steel, whereas, the Chronomètre Bleu used tantalum.
Second is the movement. The Chronomètre Holland & Holland uses the same Journe Calibre 1304 found in the Chronomètre Bleu, except the small seconds mechanism has been removed. This was done in order to accentuate the readability of the timepiece and allow more of the Damascus steel dial to be on display.
The third is the price. At its release in 2009, the Chronomètre Bleu was priced at CHF 18,300. Ten years later, the retail price (if you can find one) has increased to CHF 23,600, but the secondary valuations exceed $50,000. In contrast, the Chronomètre Holland & Holland had a sticker price of CHF 45,000 at launch. Regardless of price, the demand for both of these pieces far exceeded supply.
Ask any shotgun enthusiast, and he'll tell you that Holland & Holland is the pinnacle of gun-making. You’ll get a similar answer from most watch enthusiasts when you ask them about F.P.Journe. So I speak from experience: Having both the Chronomètre Holland & Holland and an actual Holland & Holland side-by-side shotgun in the same room is a once in a lifetime sight.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)