Top Lots: 5 Classic, Eclectic, & Beautiful Lots from Christie’s “The Art of F.P.Journe” Auction
Antiquorum’s “The Art of Patek Philippe” auction held in April 1989 is generally considered to be one of the most influential and important auctions of all time. Now, 34 years later, Christie’s is presenting “The Art of F.P.Journe” auction on May 12th at 1:00 PM CEST in Geneva. And today, Watchonista is taking a closer look at the upcoming auction and the five lots that take our breath away.
In the past several years, auctions have propelled F.P.Journe to the near top of the watch world, and with Christie’s “The Art of F.P.Journe” auction slated to begin on Friday, May 12th at 14:00 CEST in Geneva, there are no signs the brand’s auction success is slowing down. Moreover, with a total of 39 lots up for grabs, Christie’s upcoming auction is chock full of some the rarest and most celebrated pieces from the Journe catalog of the past twenty years.
Although it may sound a bit hyperbolic, I think it’s fair to say that to most collectors and industry professionals François-Paul Journe is our generation’s Abraham-Louis Breguet, i.e., a genius watchmaker with an unparalleled eye for design. Like Breguet in his time, Journe has created some of the most revolutionary horological advancements of our era while keeping his creations modern and aesthetically pleasing. For an example, look no further than the Chronomètre à Résonance from 2000; it was the first-ever wristwatch featuring acoustic resonance.
As a result, the proverbial cat is out of the bag, and his watches have commanded some jaw-dropping prices at auction in the past several years.
So, since Christie’s upcoming “The Art of F.P.Journe” auction will be one of the first times a collection of Journe’s watches of this rarity and importance have come to market at the same time and place, we have selected our top five lots of the auction, in no specific order.
Lot 2013: A Steel Chronometre Holland & Holland with Damascus Steel Dial
Made in a limited edition of 38 pieces in 2018, the Chronometre Holland & Holland stainless steel wristwatch that comprises Lot No. 2013 is among the most beautiful time-only watches of the past decade.
Most notably, this lot’s dial is a rare Damascus steel taken from an antique Holland & Holland shotgun barrel dating back to 1868. Moreover, its 39mm case is stainless steel, an extremely unusual metal for an F.P.Journe timepiece. Indeed, scholarship tells us that most of the brand’s “white metal” cases are platinum and white gold, with a few titanium cases thrown in for good measure; however, steel is a rarity for the manufacture.
Another notable feature is that the watch is time-only, without even a small seconds or power reserve indicator to zhuzh-up its horology street cred. However, as a result, the cleanliness of the dial is unique for a Journe and allows us to admire the beauty of the Damascus steel wholly.
With a pre-auction estimate ranging from CHF 60,000 to CHF 120,000, this lot could very well be the sleeper hit of the whole auction as the heavy hitters and sport models take center stage.
Lot 2027: An Octa Calendrier with Black Mother-of-Pearl Dial
Although there are many gems to choose from, one could easily argue that this Octa Calendrier model, with its retrograde date and black mother-of-pearl dial, is far and away the most beautiful watch of the entire auction.
A limited edition of only nine pieces made for the Singapore boutique Sincere Fine Watches in 2006, Lot 2027, with its coveted 38mm platinum case and beautiful black mother-of-pearl dial, is truly a sight to behold. Moreover, beyond its limited production run, what also makes this among the rarest contemporary Journe timepieces is that the Calendrier model was introduced to the Octa collection in 2005 but discontinued in 2014, making it difficult to find and, in this variation, nearly impossible.
With a pre-auction estimate ranging from CHF 150,000 to CHF 250,000, this lot truly has everything going for it, with rarity, quality, and beauty all checked off.
Lot 2028: A Platinum Tourbillon Souverain with Jade Dial & Platinum Bracelet
Certainly, F.P.Journe’s exotic dials are a sight to behold, but dials made from jade are of extreme rarity and beauty. The thickness (more like thinness) needed to make a dial of jade requires extreme skill to craft, and the ethereal jade dial of Lot No. 2028 is no exception. Fun Fact: Legend has it that François-Paul does not like making jade dials because it slows down the production of all other watches.
Beyond its impressive dial, the tourbillon, paired with constant force remontoir and dead-beat seconds, makes this an increasingly accurate timepiece.
I personally went hands-on with a jade dial tourbillon in Summer 2022 and can firmly say it is my favorite exotic dial of any Journe. But an obvious highlight of this lot (and a major difference from the example I handled) is the addition of an exceedingly rare platinum bracelet to match its 40mm platinum case.
One of two precious metal bracelets in the auction, the addition of the platinum bracelet truly elevates this piece in beauty and rarity, making it one of the top lots in the auction, with a pre-auction estimate ranging from CHF 500,000 to CHF 1,000,000.
Lot 2031: A No. 03 of 10 Centigraphe Souverain Tokyo Boutique Limited Edition
Crafted in grade 5 titanium and 18K pink gold, this Centigraphe Souverain made for the 10th anniversary of the brand’s boutique in Tokyo is among the rarest of its kind as it is a limited edition of 10 pieces made only for the Tokyo boutique in 2018.
It is no secret that titanium, generally speaking, is one of our favorite metals. But the fact that the 40mm case is also highly polished instead of having the usual matte finish makes Lot 2031 a real feast for the eyes. Moreover, sapphire sub-dials make for partially skeletonized chronograph counters, which meshes well with its red hands and ruthenium and white gold dial, while the pink gold accents bring just the right amount of flare.
Finally, the effortless way this piece wears due to the lightness of the case makes a compelling case for this watch being the most suitable for daily wear in the entire auction, aside from the brand’s sports models. Although, its pre-auction estimate of CHF 150,000 to CHF 250,000 may beg to differ.
Lot 2032: A Centigraphe Souverain F with Chrome Red Dial
Finally, Lot No. 2032’s Centigraphe Souverain F model featuring the legendary chrome red dial and a platinum bracelet is perhaps my favorite of the entire auction. (Side Note: I had the chance to purchase this piece from the boutique in January 2019, and I spent 3 hours fawning over it, only to pass due to a lack of funds. It’s the one that got away!)
The dial is said to be decorated with genuine Ferrari paint, and rumor has it that there are only 20 pieces in existence. Also, François-Paul made it mandatory to pair the watch with the platinum bracelet for an additional CHF 55,000 because he feared it would prove too popular, and the manufacture only had limited paint (and time).
With its bright red dial, this lot is arguably among the most eclectic F.P.Journe pieces ever created. And while this is certainly off the brand’s beaten path, once you considering that the customized variation of this very same watch owned by Jean Todt (the former executive director of the Scuderia Ferrari and inspiration for the Centigraphe Souverain model) was sold by Christie’s in November 2022 for just under CHF 2 million, we expect Lot 2032 to sell for more than its pre-auction estimate of CHF 400,000 to CHF 600,000.
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Christie’s “The Art of F.P.Journe” live auction will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva on Friday, May 12th, beginning at 14:00 CEST. The lots are currently being exhibited at the Four Seasons and thus available for preview every day prior to the auction from 10:00 to 18:00 CEST.
(Images © Christie's)