F.P. Journe, Octa Sport Titanium

Among F. P. Journe’s watch collections, the Octa Sport sums up the master watchmaker's belief that it only takes a little goodwill to make modernity with tradition go hand in hand. And here is tangible proof of this.

By Vincent Daveau

Every fan of fine watchmaking who regularly engages in sports activities is familiar with the LineSport of François-Paul Journe, the French master watchmaker who created the eponymous manufacture in early 2010.

Who can make more…

Issued along with the Centigraphe Sport in 2011 – at the time only in aluminum – the LineSport collections' distinct feature is that ultra-light Haute Horlogerie calibers coexist in harmony in cases that were primarily designed for action. The calibers, too, initially were not crafted to resist regular physical exercise.

The antagonistic principle made some cynics grumble that it was not worth the trouble, so much so as quartz watches could very well display the time during activities set at a blistering pace and that one could simply lose the notion of time when indulging in some R&R.

However, there is a certain talented master watchmaker who is very fond of challenges. François-Paul Journe is one of those watchmakers who never settles for comfort because his vision of perfection prevents him from adopting a laid back style. There is also the fact that his idea to produce an Haute Horlogerie watch that would be able to withstand sports practice was immediately acclaimed as a way of breaking through traditional beliefs and as an opportunity to break performance barriers. As Journe himself has pointed out, watchmaking has always progressed because it has won all its battles against stereotypes. Man has always moved forward with the help of a little pride and has matured thanks to small inner wars against their own ignorance.

Planning to set new records

A mechanical sports watch is by definition an alchemical blend of opposites. At first, we may well think that such a watch would need to be bulky and cumbersome to have a chance of resisting shocks and sudden accelerations.
But it turns out that it was its lightness that made it resistant. And the lighter it was, the more likely it was that it would endure daily ordeals without any difficulties. This is why F. P. Journe devised the 42-mm, titanium grade 5 timepiece. The material, as resistant as steel but almost twice as light, and furthermore completely biocompatible, is today acknowledged as the most adapted metal for sports watches.

Just to give you an idea of its significance, the shedding of excess weight obligatorily required the rethinking of in-house calibers, which were normally made of 18K solid gold. Consequently, the plate and bridges of the Octa Sport's movement, which comprises 286 components, were made of aluminum, a metal that combines rigidity and lightness. Winding the caliber in one direction only, the oscillating mass combines the titanium of the rotor with a tungsten (a heavy metal) piece on the felloe. And since every gram matters, the dial has also been made in aluminum and sapphire.

All in all, this ultra-light reference displays hours, the large date in an aperture, a day/night indicator, a 120-hour (5 days in real time) chronometric power reserve and seconds at 6 o'clock. Available with a titanium strap surrounded by rubber lining, which has been affixed thanks to an exclusive process, the Octa Sport weighs only 70 grams while the rubber version weighs even less – 60g.

This is undoubtedly not a record but an acceptable compromise between lightness and robustness that Journe has developed to meet the requirements of enthusiasts looking for a quality watch that they can wear anywhere, anytime, without even realizing they are wearing it. Indeed, the records the master watchmaker intends to beat are strictly related to watchmaking. This watch has however fulfilled an important aesthetic purpose: it has proved that well-designed Haute Horlogerie calibers can take on any adventure.

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