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F.P. Journe - Aluminum!

F.P. Journe Aluminum!

A master watchmaker hardly resists a challenge and François-Paul Journe is no exception. Say hello to his lineSport in aluminum alloy.

WORLDTEMPUS - 25 January 2012

Miguel Seabra

Ever the iconoclast, François-Paul Journe had vowed never to follow some of his peers and several high-end watch brands into adding a specific sports line to his catalogue – after all, any F.P. Journe aficionado could already be spoiled with sporty elegant timepieces such as the Octa Chronograph (now a collector's item) and the Centigraphe. But then a friend challenged the renowned master watchmaker to create something new…and Journe abided.

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“I have a client who decided to get in shape and then started running marathons and competing in triathlons,” Journe revealed. “He told me he'd like to wear a high-end timepiece, but it would have to be a light one.” Inspired by the epicurean businessman who drastically changed his lifestyle to become a master of dietetics and extreme sports, Journe gave the challenge some thought. After launching the Centigraphe Sport last year, he just introduced the second model of the new lineSport: the Octa Sport. The Centigraphe is a specialty timepiece only produced in limited numbers. “I'll soon introduce a third model, probably a new automatic chronograph,” he confessed.  

Aluminum from aeronautics

The Centigraphe Sport was first presented in June 2011 as the first mechanical wristwatch ever entirely (case, bracelet and movement components such as bridges and plates) created in aluminum. Choosing a declination of the Centigraphe Souverain (winner of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève's Aiguille d'Or) was the natural way to go, since with its measure of one-hundredth of a second it was the ideal timing instrument for someone in search of a new personal best. Every fraction of a second counts.

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In order to create something really special, Journe opted for an exceptional aluminum alloy used in the aeronautic industry that could be featured not only in the case and bracelet but also within mechanical calibers to bring the overall weight down. Since the F.P. Journe manufacture creates all the plates and bridges of its movements in 18-karat rose gold, it has the experience of creating calibers in materials other than the usual steel and brass. However, a lot of research had to be conducted to find the right alloy and appropriate contrast in colors for a movement that could keep up with the brand's high aesthetic and functional standards. 

F.P. Journe perfected different methods of special processing to make the aluminum scratch resistant and give it anti-corrosive and anti-allergenic properties. The outcome was brilliant: the hand-wound Centigraphe Sport was introduced, weighing just 55 grams. The first timepiece was auctioned by Christie's for HK$3,620,000 (around ten times its original estimate) in favor of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami victims. 

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The recently unveiled Octa Sport weighs even less – a mere 53 grams – and is also powered by an aluminum movement preserving the properties of all Octa automatic calibers with a five-day power reserve, variable inertia balance wheel and enhanced stability. The aluminum oscillating weight has the addition of a tungsten segment to increase winding speed.

Rubber inserts

The aluminum alloy is combined with specific rubber inserts fixed to the end of each link of the bracelet, the sides of the case and the titanium crown – thus protecting the watch from pernicious shocks. The aluminum folding clasp boasts a fine adjustment link and is also covered with a rubber coating.

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