The Vagabondage line of watches by F.P. Journe, as under-the-radar as they may be, are everything an experienced, blue-blooded watch collector-cognoscenti ever possibly want.
Why? To start with, they were conceived and made by one of the greatest living watchmakers of our time; at the same time beautifully wearable and functional; and simple yet extremely complicated at the same time. The Vagabondage watches are one of the few “if you know, you know” timepieces.
2017 saw the debut of the third – and last – chapter in the trilogy of Vagabondage watches and that merits a quick look-back at its 13-year history.
It was in 2004 that Francois-Paul Journe created three watches for the 30th anniversary for Antiquorum, an auctioneer specializing in timepieces. The watches were in white, yellow or rose gold and featured a mechanical-digital time display and a flat tortue, or turtle shaped, case.
Needless to say, the three watches were quickly snapped up by astute collectors, with bidding reaching up to three times the respective high estimates. This understandably encouraged Mr. Journe to create what became the Vagabondage I, based on the unique watches sold at auction.
Named after both its wandering time display and the way its bold looks wandered away from the typical Journe aesthetic, the 69 platinum and 10 platinum-with-diamond Vagabondage I pieces were quickly spoken for – despite a lack of brand ambassadors or marketing campaigns. If you knew, you knew.
F.P. Journe Vagabondage I – Digital Hours
Now some seventy pieces already out in the wild, 2010 brought eager collectors the opportunity to obtain the second generation of Vagabondage pieces. The “V II” was produced in greater quantities to meet demand: 68 pieces in red gold and 69 in platinum, as well as 10 in platinum with diamonds.
F.P. Journe Vagabondage II – Digital Jumping Hours and Minutes
The calibre inside remained hand-wound but swapped the wandering hours with a rare digital jumping hours and jumping minutes, as well as a small seconds and power reserve indicator – all laid out vertically.
Some seven years later in 2017 F.P. Journe has launched what is, without a shadow of a doubt, a stellar ending to the trilogy: the Vagabondage III. It would have been easy to create a slightly different version and still have collectors – rightfully – sign up for one in haste, but instead F.P Journe went out of its way and created something that we have never seen before: a watch with a jumping digital seconds display.
Though when we say “digital”, that of course refers to the double-digit display of the seconds in the Vagabondage III, a mechanism composed of two large discs, powered by a hand-wound movement.
With a limited series of 69 pieces in platinum and 68 pieces in 18k red gold, the Tortue case measures a timelessly elegant 45.2mm by 37.6mm, the same as the V II, despite being more complicated.
A stunning piece of horological engineering and classical, but unique watch design, the F.P. Journe Vagabondage III is definitely one of the most important, and yet, still very much under-the-radar watches of recent years.
F.P. Journe Vagabondage III – Digital Jumping Hours and Seconds
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