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How to Make a Perfect Watch

Is Your Wristwatch a WRIST Watch?


From 1910 to 1920 the Swiss industry had hunches on where the market for timekeepers would lead them: pocket watches or the new craze, wristwatches. In what we call the "conversion era," Swiss watchmakers basically rotated their pocket watches by 90 degrees, added lugs, and voilà:
a wristwatch.


By doing so, watches now had a new issue: the movement of the wrist. Because of centrifugal (or inversely centripetal) forces as you move your wrist, balance wheels have a tendency to go faster— more precisely, have larger amplitudes—or inversely, thus affecting the accuracy of the watch.


As usual with François-Paul Journe, this idea had been on his mind for some time. As far back as 1984, he attempted to confront the issue with his first resonance watch.

Every watchmaker interested in precision has to deal with the same four major issues. If all four issues could be resolved, one would have the perfect watch. But like the Perpetual Movement or the Fountain of Youth, this quest for the Holy Grail is not achievable in our lifetime, but we still should attempt to get closer to it.

Attaining that perfection is Francois-Paul Journe's obsession, which makes him return to his workbench day in and day out.


The issues in question are plainly illustrated in the conception and making of the F.P. Journe Chronomètre Optimum. (Note: there is a reason that it is called the "optimum"; Journe is a man of few but highly selective words.) The Chronomètre Optimum symbolizes the very essence of precision for a wristwatch. It is probably the most complicated three-handed (four-handed if you count the power reserve indicator) watch ever. It addresses the aforementioned four major issues of a mechanical watch's precision:

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