Perhaps, when one thinks of high complications, the first examples that spring to mind are watches incorporating perpetual calendars and tourbillons. While these are no mean feats in watchmaking, they are somewhat overshadowed by the widely considered 'most complex of horological complications' - the grande sonnerie or grand-strike complication. Combining a quarter striking mechanism with a minute repeating mechanism, it allows the user to hear the time striking as it passes, and activates a minute repeating function on demand.
It is this complication that F.P. Journe took six years to master and ten patents to create in his Grande et Petite Sonnerie Souveraine. This remarkable achievement, produced by a Manufacturer not even 20 years old, combines every element that has come to define both Journe himself, and his watches.
Though fitted with such a highly intricate complication, it is, in essence, an incredibly simple watch. The dial encompasses Journe's signature minimalist aesthetic with a beautifully engine turned eccentric dial screwed to an 18k white gold plate. It incorporates only two other indications, one showing the power reserve, the other showing the sonnerie function. Indeed one might almost miss the fact that, beneath the dial, lies the mind-boggling in-house caliber 1505 and all of its functions. Only through the small aperture revealing the striking hammers is the wearer afforded a glimpse of the 18k pink gold work beneath. This elegant simplicity carries through to the plain, circular case, with two pushers to the band operating the sonnerie and minute repeating functions. Journe's rather utilitarian ethic is epitomized by the fact that the case of this, the most expensive watch in the Manufacturers repertoire, is not made out of gold or platinum, but steel. For Journe, this was the obvious choice, as it is the material which allows the watch to produce the most perfect chime.
Through the sapphire crystal display back, the movement is on full view. One can observe the intricacies of the machine within (the praying mantis style repeating arms are especially fun to watch), but again, this spends most of its time sitting modestly out of sight against the wrist.
The above lot is presented at auction for the first time in wonderful condition and with all of its accompanying pieces. Awarded the Aiguille D'or at the 2006 GPHG and, with only 4 pieces made per year, it offers any collector the rare opportunity to purchase what may rightly be considered the pinnacle of the F.P. Journe collection.
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