F.P. Journe - Le Concours de Complexité: Single Owner Online Auction Hong Kong Friday, January 13, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: F.P. Journe
    Year: Circa 2018
    Case No: Case engraved with the name of the original owner
    Model Name: Sonnerie Souveraine
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 1505, 40 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Crocodile
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel F.P. Journe deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 42mm diameter
    Signed: Case dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by F.P. Journe certificate stamped Dubail Paris dated 18th July 2018, magnifying glass, strap fork, additional F.P. Journe stainless steel bracelet, additional navy and black crocodile straps, F.P. Journe stainless steel pin buckle, a set of specific spare parts, cloth, fitted presentation box and outer packaging.

  • Catalogue Essay

    How does one determine which of the high complications is the most complex? No doubt, this is an endless debate. More often than not, critics and collectors tend to focus their discussions on the hurdles faced when building a split seconds chronograph, along with perpetual calendars and tourbillons. But when it comes to chiming watches, minute repeaters are always the first thing that comes to mind, while the sonnerie, arguably the most intricate execution of all, is often overlooked.

    In short, a Sonnerie is a watch that is fitted with an active striking instrument that chimes the quarters and hours without manual activation. On grande sonnerie mode, the timepiece would strike both the hours and quarters every 15 minutes, while on petite sonnerie mode, the watch would only chime the passing of the quarters. Unlike this habitually chanting mechanism, the minute repeater only strikes the hours, quarters and minutes at the command of its wearer.

    The sonnerie, be it grande or petite, is seldom brought up not because it is inferior to other complications, but because they are rarely incorporated into wristwatches. While the existence of sonnerie pocket watches was prevalent in the 19th century, the skills required to create a caliber that not only automatically chimes but also small enough to fit into a wristwatch, did not make the jump until 1992.

    Extremely well received, the Souverain Collection was immortalised thanks to the Resonance and Tourbillon models. While this led to discussions of whether and when a Sonnerie would join the family, Journe began to quietly develop his own version in the year 2000. Six years and ten patents in, the Sonnerie Souverain was finally launched in 2006 before it ceased in 2019. Upon its release, it was awarded the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s Aiguille d’Or, and was met with praise from all fronts in the field.

    The watchmaker was adamant in making a movement that is “safe to be used by an eight-year-old”. His goal was to design an intricate caliber, durable enough to sustain the fragilities of this type of high complications, along with a mechanism that ensures even the least savant user could operate blindfolded. The result was a seamless, foolproof, minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie stainless steel wristwatch.

    Adhering to F.P. Journe’s distinct DNA, the hours, minutes and small seconds are indicated on the right of the dial, while the repeating gongs are visible via the openworked aperture at 9 o’clock. Counterbalancing the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, the sonnerie functions are displayed at 7 o’clock. The wearer can effortlessly adjust the settings from Grande Sonnerie (G), Silence (S) to Petite Sonnerie (P) via the button at 4 o’clock and activate the minute repeater using the pusher at 2 o’clock.

    To prevent irreversible damages caused by incorrect usage or setting, the ingenious engineering of this wristwatch restricts time-setting when the gongs are in play by locking the crown, as well as pausing the chiming when the crown is not screwed in properly. Similarly, a system is designed to prohibit the sonnerie from striking in the last 24 hours of power reserve, as the going train and chiming train operate from a single barrel. This precautionary contraption limits the potential damage should there not be enough power to enable the completion of the chiming sequence.

    The acoustic performance of chiming watches is paramount and with that in mind, Journe’s Sonnerie Souveraine is exemplary, producing the most beautiful sonic tunes when the gongs strike. To achieve this, the racks that supports the strike are slightly outsized, featuring defined teeth for precise deliverance of the hours, quarters and minutes. Thanks to the innovative design of the gongs, they are able to “sing” loudly and proudly without affecting the thickness of the movement. Unlike platinum or pink gold, stainless steel’s ability to carry sound is far superior in comparison to other precious metals. With a high resistance to muffle soundwaves, Journe’s unusual decision to encase his sonnerie wristwatch in stainless steel is therefore deciphered.

    With approximately four pieces leaving the F.P. Journe workshop each year, this means that after a successful 13-year production run, only north of 50 examples were made. The struggles of producing such a phenomenon, with only two watchmakers qualified to assemble it, affirms the rarity of the Sonnerie Souverain. In favour of a random case number, each piece bears the name of its original owner, demonstrating how personal these watches are to those fortunate enough to own one.

    For the very first time, PHLLIPS is humbled and delighted to present this unicorn-piece black-dialled Sonnerie Souverain in auction, offered in excellent overall condition with its original accessories. The present example was initially graced with a possibly unique blue dial, as suggested in its certificate. Adding to its novelty, this grand-strike wristwatch and minute repeater is truly one-of-a-kind, boasting an exceptional black dial normally reserved for the ultra-exclusive Black Label series, customised to the taste of its consigner.

    A chef-d'oeuvre for one of the greatest icons in contemporary watchmaking, the Sonnerie Souveraine not only reflects François-Paul Journe’s undying commitment to excellence, but also attests to an important relic in his journey of establishing his own brand.

  • Artist Biography

    F.P. Journe

    Swiss • 1999

    Founded by watchmaker François-Paul Journe in 1999, the F.P. Journe brand is relatively young, but already is as highly regarded by collectors as many distinguished manufacturers with centuries-old heritage. In the minds of the world's savviest collectors, Journe is producing some of the finest wristwatches the market has ever seen. Mastering his craft from restoring historical timepieces, he was the first to create a wristwatch incorporating two escapements that benefit from the phenomenon of resonance — the Chronomètre à Résonance.

    Key models include the Résonance, tourbillon wristwatches incorporating a remontoir and the limited edition Vagabondage series. Especially sought-after are his earliest "souscription" watches, made in 1999.

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An utterly unique and spectacular minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie stainless steel wristwatch with power reserve indication, customised black dial, bracelet, certificate and presentation box

Circa 2018
42mm diameter
Case dial, movement and clasp signed

HK$2,800,000 - 5,000,000 

Sold for HK$8,720,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi

Head of Watches, Asia

+852 2318 2001



Le Concours de Complexité: Single Owner Online Auction

Online Auction 13-20 January 2023