With the meteoric rise in demand for François-Paul Journe’s timepieces in recent years, both at retail and on the secondary market, it would be easy to forget that Journe, although a watchmaker with considerable experience under his belt, only started his brand just over 20 years ago. That’s a blink of an eye in an industry that likes to put forward brands with histories that span a century or two. Although Journe had worked with some of these established maisons, he was a movement conceptor, helping his clients realize their visions, and his name was not yet well-known outside a rather small circle of aficionados. He was friends though with Maximilian Büsser, who stood out amongst brands CEOs for his youth and, it must be said, daring, taking on the challenge of putting a historic jeweler, Harry Winston, on the map of the world’s finest watchmakers. Finding suppliers for the various elements that would elevate Harry Winston to the status of a watchmaker wouldn’t be too difficult; numerous companies were already in place who were more than happy to design bespoke movements, and case and dial suppliers were also plentiful. Büsser felt that something different was needed, with his brainchild, the Opus series, building a foundation for not only Harry Winston, but also for when he launched his own brand, Maximilian Büsser, and Friends, or MB&F. The idea would be that these conceptors and collaborators would no longer take their bows behind the curtain of the main stage (if they ever became known at all), they would be brought to the fore and be in the spotlight, in the same vein as the brand itself. For François-Paul Journe, this would provide an invaluable stepping stone, especially in international markets, where he did not yet have the clout to open doors with the key retailers.
The Opus One series is remarkable because it genuinely contains the DNA of both Harry Winston and François-Paul Journe. The case design bears the signature arch design on the lugs, inspired by the entrance of the Maison's famous Fifth Avenue boutique, while the tourbillon with remontoir d’égalité, or constant force device, is undoubtedly one of Journe’s best-known movements, paying tribute to the masters such as Abraham Louis Breguet that inspired Journe throughout his formative years. The Opus One genuinely achieved its goal and more, of an object being considerably greater than the sum of its parts, or, in this instance, the fruit of an ingenious collaborative effort.