Remember the two F.P. Journe watches that we wrote about earlier this month? The original Tourbillon Souverain “Souscription” - the timepiece that helped founder François-Paul Journe launch his eponymous watch company – and his second effort, the groundbreaking Resonance together sold for 2,440,000 Swiss Francs ($2.57 million) at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction XI over the weekend. The watches sold for more than 10 times their minimum pre-sale estimate.
This is an important milestone in the career of the independent watchmaker. Considered one of the greatest watchmakers alive today, François-Paul Journe only made 20 of his subscription model in 1999. To raise money to fund the production of these timepieces in 1999, Journe adopted the subscription (souscription in French) method. For the uninitiated, a subscription system is a now-antiquated concept whereby future owners would pay upfront part of the price of the watch. Celebrated Parisian jeweller Lorenz Baümer is the original owner of these two watches and assigned them to the auction this year.
Back in 1999, the introduction of the Tourbillon Souverain heralded the arrival of the enigmatic watchmaker. It was the first wristwatch with a tourbillon and rementoire (an archaic device that ensures a constant flow of energy to the escapement). The use of these two devices together results in improved isochronism and accuracy. Suffice to say, the Tourbillon Souverain is one of the most important timepieces made in the history of hautenhorology.
This particular watch uses a 38 mm platinum case and is sold with an undated subscription contract detailing the purchase signed by Journe himself, two additional leather straps, product leaflet, two technical printouts, polishing cloth, fitted wooden presentation box and outer packaging. The watch’s pre-sale estimate of CHF150,000-300,000 was surpassed easily as it pulled in CHF1,400,000 ($1.47 million) at the Geneva auction on Saturday, June 27.
Lorenz Baümer and Journe, who have since become close friends, completed another transaction a year later in 2000 when Journe offered his first clients the opportunity to subscribe to his sophomore effort, the groundbreaking Resonance timepiece. Baümer made some changes to make it a unique model; the watch features a pink gold middle case with a bezel and caseback in platinum and a white gold dial. Launched in 2000, the Resonance again was a landmark wristwatch and notably featured two balance wheels that oscillate in resonance with each other. The Resonance surpassed its pre-sale estimate of CHF80,000-160,000 fetching CHF1,040,000 ($1.09 million).
This isn’t F.P. Journe’s first million dollar-mark breach at the auctions. In November 2019, the Astronomic Blue, with a staggering 18 complications, sold for CHF1.8 million (approx. $1.8 million) at the Only Watch charity auction.