Rare FP Journe pieces set to fetch millions at auction – expat guide to Switzerland
The eyes of the watchmaking world will be on Geneva this weekend for two of the most anticipated auctions of the year: the biennial Only Watch charity auction organized by Christie’s and the Geneva Watch Auction XIV at Phillips.
For many, the focus will be on FP Journe. With one of the independent brand’s pieces surpassing the $ 2 million (CHF 1.83 million) mark on auction for the first time a few weeks ago, it’s interesting to see how much the auction goes up when some of his rarer watches go under the hammer.
First, the FFC Blue, one of 55 unique watches featured in the ninth edition of Only Watch on Saturday, raising money for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research. The prototype, the result of a conversation between Geneva founder François-Paul Journe and director Francis Ford Coppola in 2012, uses the fingers and thumb of a blue hand – inspired by a mechanical hand created by the 16th century French surgeon. century. Ambroise Paré – to tell the time.
The tantalum piece is “quite revolutionary in design and technique” for Journe, says Rémi Guillemin, head of the watchmaking department at Christie’s in Geneva. He brings an estimate of CHF 300,000 to CHF 400,000 ($ 328,000 to $ 437,000), but Guillemin expects to be “surprised” by the result.
Then, on Sunday, attention will turn to the Geneva Watch Auction XIV, where a full set of FP Journe Souscription watches go on sale for the first time. Each of the five watches is number 1 in a 20-piece subscription series and recorded by the original owner. This makes the set “not only incredibly rare but also historically relevant,” according to Phillips.
When Frenchman Journe, who made unique timepieces, wanted to launch a larger production, he offered 20 people the opportunity to buy his tourbillon with a 50% discount in exchange for an upfront payment to finance his business. The purchaser of the first part had a right of refusal on the first of the next four models.
The watches, dated 1999 to 2004, are sold individually. “We don’t know how many millions of dollars [set] will go for, ”says dealer Eric Wind, owner of Wind Vintage. “It could be absolutely crazy.”
The Sovereign Tourbillon Subscription alone is expected to exceed the combined high estimate of 1.46 million Swiss francs for all five watches. Sotheby’s set a new auction record for a Journe coin when it sold number 13 of 20 for HK $ 15.9 million (CHF 1.87 million) last month.
The previous record was the CHF 1.4 million Phillips reached for number 14 out of 20 in June of last year. Prices had already risen sharply: number 19 had risen to 161,000 francs in 2016. “, says Vent.
Prices are on the rise on FP Journe watches. “The biggest increase we have seen is from 1999 to 2004. . .[when]its models measured 38mm in diameter and had brass movements, ”explains Alexandre Ghotbi, head of watches for continental Europe and the Middle East at Phillips. Journe then moves on to 18-carat rose gold movements.
“Journe has always been a brand that spoke to watch geeks and connoisseurs. . . but it has remained more or less a name known to connoisseurs, ”says Ghotbi. “Then in the last three, four years it really picked up.”
This is partly due to the rarity and quality of the watches: the manufacture, which creates 95% of the components in-house, manufactures less than 900 mechanical timepieces per year. “It’s one of those rare brands where you immediately see your watches from afar, you know who made them,” Ghotbi explains.
Another factor in FP Journe’s “meteoric” rise, according to Wind, is the Patrimoine service launched in 2016. The brand, which has sold 90 watches through the program to date, is openly buying back watches that are no longer in production, maintains them and sells them. with a new three-year warranty. “This was for me the start of the shift to make Journe watches so extremely desirable, as prices started to rise at auction and new interest shifted to the brand and discontinued models, which then spurred the interest in their current production models, ”says Wind.
Ghotbi says Journe himself is “not an easy-going man” and hasn’t given many interviews (an interview offered by the brand for this article never materialized). However, Guillemin says Journe is “very active” in the watchmaking community.
“He’s a very passionate person – he’s a genius when it comes to developing watches – and he really commands respect,” says Guillemin. “Buying from an independent watchmaker today is like buying a painting from a living artist. You can really follow it. . . and you can interact with it so that there is that human touch, which collectors are really looking for.
With the success of FP Journe as part of a broader takeover of living independent watchmakers, Wind predicts further price growth due to the level of interest in watchmaking. “The sky seems to be the limit,” he says.
Only Watch auction 2021
An unprecedented number of 54 brands have provided unique watches for the ninth edition of this year’s Only Watch auction, which takes place in Geneva on Saturday, writes Simon de Burton. The biennial event, which has so far raised over 70 million euros for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was founded by former Monaco Yacht Show CEO Luc Pettavino after his son Paul, then five years old, was diagnosed with the disease, which is characterized by progressive muscle weakening leading to reduced function of vital organs. A Patek Philippe Grand Master Chime became the most expensive watch ever auctioned when it raised $ 31 million at Only Watch 2019 – almost two years to the day after Paul Pettavino’s death, just before his 21st birthday .
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021