The FP Journe Elegante: A £10k quartz watch that is worth every penny...
Yes... You have read that correctly. This article is going to be focused solely on an FP Journe. But not just any old FP Journe, one featuring a quartz movement no less. But before you stop reading or start to sigh despairingly, I encourage you to carry on reading because this is one serious piece of horology.
The Elegante was released in 2014, and was originally the brands first and only woman's exclusive line of watches. When this watch popped up on my radar a few months ago, I found it curious that I was greated predominantly with pictures of well proportioned, titanium cased examples on the wrists of men, not a diamond case or bright colour in sight. As it turns out had got my wires crossed. The example I first came across is the recently released 'male' (a term I hate when talking about watches) version. As it turns out, the watch was so popular at time of release that it was only a matter of time before the watch had to be up sized for the male market.
Now, yes the watch is quartz... But bear with me. Being a quartz watch from one of the best and most innovative watch brands of the past two decades, this is not the same run-of-the-mill quartz you would find in a Daniel Wellington, for example.
The first iteration of the Elegante line...
In a recent interview with another watch blog who's name rhymes with 'Shmninkee', Francois-Paul Journe was quoted as saying "First, quartz is not pretty to look at, so here I designed it to be, and did not try to hide it like most quartz movements." This alone demonstrates that this is not a traditional quartz movement. And as you can see from the photo below, id say they have done a pretty good job.
Not just any old quartz movement...
As with all FP Journe watches, the technology within the watch is pretty special. I think for me it gives the watch an allure above and beyond being a quartz watch, and this is how it works. It is an Electro-Mechanical movement, which will enter stability mode after 30 minutes of inactivity. The hands will remain motionless, however the microprocessor within the watch will still be tracking time. In standby mode this watch will stay running for a staggering 18 years. When the watch is picked up or moved, the hands will automatically jump to the current hour and minute, and carry on tracking the time. Interestingly, in an effort to make this movement more attractive visually, Journey has made the bridges and plates for the movement out of red gold, like with their mechanical watches.
The other unusual but awesome feature about this watch is the dial. In normal light it just looks like a slightly off-white dial. However, when you see this watch in the dark, you will realise that the dial is in fact made entirely of super luminova. This is a really cool feature, and honestly is something that I have only really seen on Timex Indiglo's! Who thought Timex would come up in the same article as FP Journe!
Two lume heavyweights... somewhat seperated by price, but very cool to see the technology being used at different ends of the spectrum...
The case was/is for me one of the big pulls of this watch. It differentiates itself from a traditional tonneau case just enough to be different, without completely disregarding the design on which it is based. The elegant profile and the perfect mix of polished and brushed finishing makes for a very good looking case design. The other slightly more unusual design feature about this watch is that the case is completely Titanium. Now I understand that this will divide opinion. I know a lot of people who poo-poo titanium because of its lightness, and I completely get that. But just because the watch feels light, there is no need to associate that with either poor quality or inexpensiveness. This watch is the sportiest watch that Journe offers, and making it out of a material that makes you forget that you are wearing a watch at all makes perfect sense to me. To caviat this opinion, I have not managed to try one of these on yet because they are as rare as hens teeth. Therefore, my stance could change after strapping one on wrist!!
All in all this is a very, very cool watch. It sits in frankly an odd segment of the industry being a luxury quartz watches. Whilst not something that you often see, it is hard to deny how awesome this watch is. If you are in the market for a watch you could wear every day for years and not have to worry about it, this is a pretty strong contender. It is versatile, wearable, different, and ultimately one of the biggest conversation starters out there. I could easily see myself wearing this with a suit to the office, as well as with chinos and loafers on the weekend. Maybe even on a nato…….. As far as I can see the only real barrier to entry for this watch is the price. Trying to justify £10,000 on a quartz watch is no mean feat, but hopefully this look behind the curtain has helped persuade you all that this is certainly a watch worth considering.
Editor and Co-Founder
The Young Horologist