Indie watchmaker F.P. Journe has used the Only Watch Auction to introduce new complications into his product catalogue. Two years ago Journe presented the tremendous monopusher split-seconds chronograph that sold for CHF1.1 million. This time the indie watchmaker presents his most ambitious work yet – the Astronomic Blue – which has a staggering 18 complications.
And like the two Journe watches presented at Only Watch before, this watch too uses a tantalum case. Measuring 44 mm in width and 13.75 mm in thickness, tantalum gives this case a dull greyish-blue hue. A slider at 10 o’ clock on the case indicates that this watch has a minute repeater function.
This is a timepiece that was 14 years in the making. The watch has two dials – one on the left shows sidereal time (time measured with respect to the apparent motion of the 'fixed' stars in the sky due to the Earth's rotation). The subdial on the right indicates time in a second time zone as well thanks to a central minutes hand (the local hour and minutes hands are in orange).
A power reserve indicator anchors the dial at 6 o’ clock and a moon phase indication is placed just above it. A sector at 12 o’ clock has a combined day/night, sunrise/sunset complication. The shutters on the edge indicate the hours of sunrise and sunset — an orange disc indicates the sun’s journey between dawn and dusk.
There is plenty to see on the caseback side too. There is an Equation of Time scale (this is the difference between mean solar time as shown by clocks and apparent solar time) with an indicator that pivots from the central axis. You can also spot a one-minute tourbillon to help with the movement’s accuracy and a remontoir d égalité to ensure a steady transmission of power from the twin barrels to the escapement.
An annual calendar with day, date and month indications are spread across a ring on the periphery of the caseback. If you are still wondering, the manual-winding prototype caliber 1619 is made from 18K gold. It has a power reserve of 42 hours and was built ground-up specifically for this watch. All the settings of the watch can be changed via the crown, so there are no pushers on the case band.
The Astronomic Blue is easily the most talked about watch at the auction this year. This is a stunning display of Journe’s technical prowess and if history is anything to go by, the watch should easily breach its pre-sale estimate of $300,000-600,000.