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Same brand, different shape

FP Journe's Vagabondage III is in sync with its name, which is French for "vagrancy" or "wandering".

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The independent watchmaker’s Vagabondage III has a patented flat “Tortue” (tortoise-shaped) case. Vagabondage III is limited to 69 pieces in platinum and 68 in red gold.

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The independent watchmaker’s Vagabondage III has a patented flat “Tortue” (tortoise-shaped) case. Vagabondage III is limited to 69 pieces in platinum and 68 in red gold.

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Vagabondage II (above) was limited to 69 pieces in platinum, 68 in red gold and 10 in platinum with diamonds.

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Vagabondage I was limited to 69 pieces in platinum and 10 pieces in platinum with diamonds.

THE first thing you notice is it doesn't look like your usual FP Journe watch. FP Journe-made watches have a round case. The independent watchmaker's Vagabondage III has a patented flat "Tortue" (tortoise-shaped) case, which makes it look more like a Cartier than a Francois-Paul Journe creation. Maybe the rumour that Vagabondage was first conceived for Cartier is true

Still, the shape is not altogether new to FP Journe timepieces by now. There are already Vagabondage I and II, both with the same case as III. In any case, the un-FP Journe look is in sync with the name given to the watch, which is French for "vagrancy" or "wandering". So not having a round case is one way FP Journe, the watchmaker, has strayed from his beaten track.

The Vagabondage series is a deliberate move in this direction to show time differently. The first Vagabondage, produced in 2004 for Antiquorum's 30th anniversary auction and launched in 2006, featured a jumping hour, where the numerals for the hours are represented by a disk on the dial. The window surrounding the current hour carries the hour numerals around the dial once per hour, acting as the minute hand.

Vagabondage II, presented in 2010, has a different take on the display of time. It uses a jumping hours and minutes indicator, instead of Vagabondage I's "wandering" hour.

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So there are already jumping hours and minutes. The next watch in the series should have jumping seconds. Indeed, Vagabondage III's main attraction is a digital jumping seconds display. Yet, it's not as simple as it sounds. In fact, there are some watch experts who think it's impossible to do jumping digital seconds because it requires not just lots of energy but the energy has to be stored quickly without affecting the watch's accuracy and released at a precise moment to create the jump.

In Vagabondage II, FP Journe used a constant force mechanism to do this with the digital jumping minutes. He turns to the constant force mechanism again with the digital jumping seconds in Vagabondage III.

Still, it was a big challenge to make it work this time. A minute is long enough to store energy to create the jump in digital jumping minutes. To do it in a second is tough, if not impossible. Yet, FP Journe managed to pull it off to produce the world's first mechanical watch with digital jumping seconds. But he doesn't boast about it.You can read the man as having no big ego, or he's so confident that he will just let his work speak for itself. Unlike most other watches, which have the name of the watchmaker or the watch's brand on their dial, FP Journe's name is not found on the dial of the three Vagabondage models.

The Vagabondage timepieces have open-worked which exposes the inner beauty of the watch mechanisms - and these can be seen through a smoked sapphire case.

Like the earlier watches, Vagabondage III, the last in the Vagabondage series, is powered by a hand-wound 18K rose gold movement, a common feature in FP Journe timepieces. But the 45.2 x 37.6 mm case of Vagabondage III is larger than the cases of Vagabondage I and II, because the latest model requires a more substantial movement to drive it.

Vagabondage III is a limited to 69 pieces in platinum and 68 in red gold. Vagabondage II was limited to 69 pieces in platinum, 68 in red gold and 10 in platinum with diamonds. Vagabondage I was limited to 69 pieces in platinum and 10 pieces in platinum with diamonds.

The three-piece special edition made for Antiquorum, which was equipped with a brass movement, was in white, yellow and rose gold. They were sold for three times the estimated prices - CHF 63,250 ( S$89,158) for white gold, CHF 66,700 for yellow gold and CHF 80,500 for rose gold).

Vagabondage I and II are also sold out. Vagabondage III will be priced at CHF 56,000 for the platinum watches and CHF 54,000 for the red gold model.