2008 Private Preview: Speed Demon

  • Laurie Kahle

The Centigraphe Souverain has a

closer

connection to car racing than some automotive-themed watches. For

Antiquorum’s 30th anniversary auction in 2004, Geneva watchmaker

François-Paul

Journe created Vagabondage, a set of three unique

timepieces. Proceeds from the

sale of the watches went to the Institute

for Cerebral and Medullary (spinal)

Disorders in Paris, the charity of

Journe’s choice. Together, the watchmaker and

the buyer delivered the

check for more than $200,000 to one of the Institute’s

founders, Jean

Todt—better known as the executive director of Scuderia Ferrari,

the

carmaker’s Formula One division.

Journe’s visit to the Maranello test

track gave him the idea

for a high-precision chronograph that could

measure tiny fractions of a second.

"When I met Jean Todt and was

introduced to the world of car racing, I realized

that there was

nothing serious enough in mechanical horology to time today’s

racing

cars," says Journe.

Last spring, Journe debuted the Centigraphe

Souverain, which is

capable of recording elapsed times from ¹/100th of

a second to 10 minutes, on three

separate dials. By using the

accompanying tachometer scales on each subdial, you

can convert the

times into speeds. The hand on the subdial at 6 o’clock

completes one

turn in 10 minutes with a tachometer scale in 20-second increments

to

chart speeds ranging from about 4 mph to 37 mph. On the subdial at 2 o’clock,

the hand makes a revolution in 20 seconds with a tachometer scale in

one-second

increments to measure speeds as fast as 225 mph, the

velocity of the cars that

Todt oversees.

His need to measure

speed still not sated, Journe added a

flying seconds hand positioned at

10 o’clock, which completes a revolution in

one second against a

tachometer scale marked in hundredths of a second. This

dial

theoretically makes it possible to time a vehicle moving at nearly 224,000

mph—in case the wearer finds himself aboard a space

shuttle.

Journe received a patent for his fully integrated chronograph

movement, which isolates the chronograph function so that it does not

affect timekeeping when engaged. A second patent was granted for the ergonomic

rocker

mechanism at 2 o’clock, which turns the column wheel, activating

the levers that

start, stop, and reset the chronograph.

The ICM

foundation will receive 30 percent of the profits from

the sale of each

Centigraphe, which is priced at $48,100 in platinum and $43,900

in red

gold. The watch will be available at the end of this year in Journe’s own

boutiques—including his first U.S. store, which opened last summer in

Boca

Raton, Fla. Next year, the pieces will arrive at Journe’s retail

dealers, who

undoubtedly expect to see them move fast.

F.P. Journe, 305.572.9802, www­.fpjourne.com,

www­.icm-institute.org

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