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Apr 16 • 15:55

F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance

F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance : History, Series, key features & figures

F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance

F.P. Journe is undeniably among the greatest contemporary watchmakers. He is certainly the most recognized by his peers and for his influence on the watch market and it is difficult to remain insensitive to the models of this manufacture.

At Iconic Swiss Watch, it is a brand that we particularly like for several reasons. The production is relatively low (less than 1000 pieces per year), innovations are important thanks to the work of François-Paul Journe for many years, the design is remarkable : F.P. Journe has managed to create a design that is unique and recognizable among others, desirability is important (few pieces are available on the market) and customers looking for these pieces are knowledgeable collectors always guaranteeing extremely interesting exchanges!

Although a large number of models have been designed since 1999, there is one that has a very special and important place within the manufacture.

It is now impossible to think of François-Paul Journe without thinking of the Resonance.

Although his work on this model began in 1984, it took him 15 years to develop a prototype wristwatch equipped with a Resonance movement and remains, to this day, the only wristwatch in the world using the natural physical phenomenon of resonance without mechanical transmission.

The beginnings :

The observation of this phenomenon is attributed to Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century but the first application was realized by Antide Janvier who was notably the watchmaker of King Louis XVIII with a double-pendulum clock. This phenomenon was then taken up and used by Louis-Abraham Breguet who produced two clocks and three pocket watches in the early 19th century. The term "Resonance" was not used at the time, since it was F.P. Journe who used it first. This was the end of the Resonance story until 1983, when F.P. Journe started to make a resonance pocket watch. He had to give up (temporarily) due to the difficulty of the task before releasing his prototype of a resonance wristwatch in 1999 at the Basel fair.

Mouvement 1ere montre de poche a Resonance F.P. Journe | Credit - MonochromeMouvement 1ere montre de poche a Resonance F.P. Journe | Credit - Monochrome
Prototype Chronometre a Resonance F.P. Journe | Credit - MonochromePrototype Chronometre a Resonance F.P. Journe | Credit - Monochrome

Functioning :

To better understand this phenomenon, we must imagine that the balance/spring system allowing the regulation of energy of a watch will lose some during its operation and in particular through the "tic tac" that we can hear.

By placing another identical balance (having thus the same natural frequency) sufficiently close, each will be enriched by the energy dissipated from the other and will begin to beat naturally in opposition and therefore in resonance.

If one of the balances undergoes an external disturbance (movement of the wrist, etc.), the other balance will compensate for this disturbance, cancelling it out and the system will be more precise.

The great complexity lies in the fact that the two movements that make up the watch must be perfectly identical, the distance between the balances extremely precise (0.4 - 0.6mm) and the difference in frequency between the balances must not exceed 5 seconds per day in the 6 adjusting positions in order to enter into resonance!

Chronometre a Resonance collection :

F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance | ISW | Buy Sell Trade F.P. Journe 3.png
F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance | ISW | Buy Sell Trade F.P. Journe 3.png

The Collection

The Resonance Chronometer collection is currently composed of 5 series, each with significant variants.

  • 1st Series / 2000-2004 : R - Resonance
  • 2nd Series / 2005-2009 : RN - Resonance Nouveau ("New" in french)
  • 3rd Series / 2010 - 2019 : RT - Resonance Trois ("Three" in french)
  • 4th Series / 2019 : RT Anniversary
  • 5th Series / 2020 - present : RQ - Resonance Quatre ("Four" in french)

First series : R (Resonance)

2000-2004

This first series is obviously the one that is most surrounded by mystery and curiosity because the production is low and little information is available.

As with the Tourbillon Souverain model, before launching this first series, 20 pieces called "Subscription" numbered from 001-00R to 020-00R were offered to customers. And those who had already purchased a Souscription Tourbillon Souverain were given the opportunity to have a Souscription Resonance with the same serial number for both.

The first set of numbers specifies the model number and the second specifies the year of manufacture of the case (in this case 2000).

The cases were only available in platinum and accompanied by a subscription certificate specifying the particularity of these models.

A few rare examples (just over 3) were made with a two-tone case, platinum and rose gold.

F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance Souscription Platine / Or rose - Credit Phillips F.P. Journe Chronometre a Resonance Souscription Platine / Or rose - Credit Phillips
Caliber 1499 | Credit PhillipsCaliber 1499 | Credit Phillips

Research, and in particular that of Osama Sendi, founder of TheJourneGuy.com, reveals that a small series of about ten pieces numbered from 21, have cases manufactured in 1999 (021-99R) and thus before the Souscription series. This is probably a sign of the confidence that F.P. Journe had in the future success of this model.

A handful of cases with the characteristics of this pre-series but with a 2000 manufacturing date have also appeared and thus seem to have been produced before the Souscriptions but assembled and sold after.

Apart from the exceptions seen above, the more classic production was launched from 2000, and is characterized by a 38mm case in platinum or rose gold with rhodium-plated brass movement and a symmetrical dial with the two sub-dials of the Resonance.

1ère Série Chronometre a Resonance  - Credits F.P. Journe / Christie's
1ère Série Chronometre a Resonance - Credits F.P. Journe / Christie's

The possible combinations of the 1st Series:

3 dial colors were available: yellow gold (only with the platinum case), white gold or rose gold.

As the dials were made by different dial makers and finished by hand by F.P. Journe, different shades were observed and difficult to perceive without having the watches in hand:

  • From 1999 to 2000, the dials are very shiny with silver sub-counters with a tendency to patina.
  • From 2001 to 2003, the dials were less shiny and the sub-counters are white around 2003
  • After 2003, the dials become matte and the sub-counters silver.

These parts were often ordered in large numbers and finished by hand, the variations are numerous and do not follow a strict rule and during assembly the parts used were those available in the workshop.

The general trend is to move from shiny to matte dials as the production progresses.

The caliber 1499 of this first series was made of brass for obvious cost reasons and rhodium plated to obtain this silver finish.

The total production of this first series lasted until 2004 and, according to estimates, a little more than 380 pieces were produced (not including the 99-piece Ruthenium series detailed below).

Calibre 1499 en laiton rhodié - Credit Sotheby'sCalibre 1499 en laiton rhodié - Credit Sotheby's
Calibre 1499 en laiton rhodié - Credit Sotheby'sCalibre 1499 en laiton rhodié - Credit Sotheby's

These cases, with a diameter of 38mm, are no longer produced, which contributes to their rarity and makes this series extremely popular. The models easily reach records at auctions which act as a lever with the other series of this collection which also see their prices increase significantly.

The Ruthenium Collection

Manufactured between 2001 and 2003, this collection is a limited series of 99 pieces. These pieces, made of platinum, have the particularity of having a ruthenium coating on the dials and on the movements. This work creates a monochromatic set but the play of different textures makes the set particularly interesting and beautiful.

Designed with 40mm cases, a few rare 38mm models have been made to fulfill special orders.

Chronomètre à Résonance - Série limitée Ruthénium | Credit Sotheby'sChronomètre à Résonance - Série limitée Ruthénium | Credit Sotheby's
Chronomètre à Résonance - Série limitée Ruthénium | Credit Sotheby'sChronomètre à Résonance - Série limitée Ruthénium | Credit Sotheby's

2nd Series : RN (Resonance Nouveau)

2005-2009

The brass used for the manufacture of the movements of the first series was used until the end of 2004, when the "Golden Era" began with the use of 18-carat pink gold for the manufacture of the movements.

Although similar to the first series, technical and aesthetic changes have obviously been made.

In terms of the case, the diameter was enlarged to 2mm but 38mm cases were still available on order (as shown here ou here).

Although the movement and dial are identical, only the cases and crowns have been refined for the 38mm versions.

Chronometre a Resonance RM 38mm versus 40mm | Credit ACMChronometre a Resonance RM 38mm versus 40mm | Credit ACM
Chronometre a Resonance RM 38mm versus 40mm | Credit ACMChronometre a Resonance RM 38mm versus 40mm | Credit ACM

The available dial colors remain unchanged, but the yellow gold is now discontinued.

On the dial, the steel circles of the sub-counters have been redesigned and become more rounded in this series. These subtle details are very appreciated by collectors and make the watches different from each other and easily recognizable.

Chronometre a Resonance 1st serie R | ISWChronometre a Resonance 1st serie R | ISW
Chronometre a Resonance 2nd serie RN | ISWChronometre a Resonance 2nd serie RN | ISW

For this second generation, the caliber increases from 1499 to 1499.2 and celebrates the introduction of rose gold for the movements. Although the general architecture remains the same, the ratchet wheels (located above the barrel springs) are now no longer visible below the barrel bridge. An auctioned example can be seen here.

Caliber 1499 | Credit PhillipsCaliber 1499 | Credit Phillips
Caliber 1499.2 | Credit PhillipsCaliber 1499.2 | Credit Phillips

One year later, in 2006, the winding part is improved and the reference of the caliber is changed to 1499.3 and appears around serial number 320-340.

This reference will then be produced for another 3 years, until 2009.

These models, although less in demand than the previous ones because of their increased diameter and their pink gold movement, remain popular thanks to the dial configuration with double counters which was the original design of the Chronomètre à Résonance.

Some Chronometre a Résonance RN Special Edition

Limited edition 12 pieces - Journe Boutique 2nd Anniversary, Tokyo | Credit PhillipsLimited edition 12 pieces - Journe Boutique 2nd Anniversary, Tokyo | Credit Phillips
Limited edition 5 pieces - Pisa Boutique 60th Anniversary, Milano | Credit Christie’sLimited edition 5 pieces - Pisa Boutique 60th Anniversary, Milano | Credit Christie’s
Limited edition 25 pieces - Sincere Fine Watches, Singapore | Credit Christie’sLimited edition 25 pieces - Sincere Fine Watches, Singapore | Credit Christie’s
Limited edition 10 pieces - Sincere Fine Watches, Singapore | Credit Ineichen Limited edition 10 pieces - Sincere Fine Watches, Singapore | Credit Ineichen

3rd Series: RT (Resonance Three)

2010 - 2019

For the 10th anniversary of the model, F.P. Journe introduces a new reference to the collection.

Also available in 40mm, the dial colors remain the same as the previous reference.

However, an important change in the design of the dial appears at 9 o'clock with the use of rotating discs instead of hands for the time indication, which also changes to 24 hours instead of 12 hours for the previous reference. This modification of the display and its polished steel circle around it will give it the nickname of "Parking Meter" among collectors.

This layout marks a real break with the previous models. The original two symmetrical counters were used to show and prove that the watches were working properly because they kept exactly the same time. With the proof and the model unanimously recognized, F.P Journe decided to change by creating this new design.

Chronometre a Resonance RT on the wrist | ISW Chronometre a Resonance RT on the wrist | ISW
Chronometre a Resonance RT | ISW Chronometre a Resonance RT | ISW
Caliber 1499.3 Chronometre a Resonance RT | ISW Caliber 1499.3 Chronometre a Resonance RT | ISW

The caliber 1499.3 remains identical to the previous reference but the number of jewels increases from 36 to 40.

Produced until the very beginning of 2019, this series naturally had to stop in order to make room for the arrival of a new Resonance movement for the 20th anniversary of the model.

Some Specials Chronometre a Resonance RT

Limited edition 5 pieces - Mark Cho, the Armoury | Credit SJXLimited edition 5 pieces - Mark Cho, the Armoury | Credit SJX
Special Order Black Mother-of-Pearl | ISWSpecial Order Black Mother-of-Pearl | ISW
Boutique edition | Credit PrestigeTimeBoutique edition | Credit PrestigeTime

4th series: RT(A) (Resonance Three Anniversary)

2019

Before the arrival of the 20th anniversary and to say goodbye to the version of the Resonance movement as we have known it so far, F.P. Journe decided to produce a model for 1 year only.

Taking up the characteristics of the previous versions, this model retains a diameter of 40mm, finds the original design of the symmetrical dial with an analog display but keeps a 24h display for the dial at 9 o'clock.

Anniversary Serie RT | Credit F.P. JourneAnniversary Serie RT | Credit F.P. Journe
Anniversary Serie RT | Credit F.P. JourneAnniversary Serie RT | Credit F.P. Journe

5th series: RQ (Resonance Four)

2020 - Present

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the model, a brand new reference appears in the collection: the Resonance Quatre or RQ.

The cases are now available in 40 and 42 mm and retain the use of platinum or rose gold as well as the dial colors previously available.

However, with the arrival of the new caliber, the dial design has evolved. Although the displays remain analog with a 24-hour indication at 9 o'clock and a 12-hour indication at 3 o'clock, the sub-dials are now combined with a single polished steel circle. The power reserve indication at 12 o'clock has been simplified and a differential is visible in the center of the dial.

Chronometre a Resonance RQ | Credit F.P. Journe
Chronometre a Resonance RQ | Credit F.P. Journe

This new caliber 1520 has only one mainspring and a differential is therefore necessary to transmit this force independently to the two movements. The latter are also equipped with "remontoirs d’égalité" (like equal winders) that transmit a linear force to each of the two balances, allowing them to remain synchronized for 28 hours.

The winding crown, which could sometimes be difficult to use before, has been moved from 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock.

Final thoughts

The Chronometre a Resonance is undeniably one of the pillars of the François-Paul Journe collection and history. Initially a little-studied and largely misunderstood phenomenon, Mr. Journe has been able to tame it, miniaturize it and make it his own through the various models while improving its operation over the years.

Written with care, this article is however not exhaustive, we will update it and bring corrections with time.

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