Interview with François-Paul Journe
François-Paul Journe is an undoubted leader in contemporary artisanal watchmaking. Adhering and upholding horological traditions, F.P.Journe watches are elegant and timeless in its aesthetics, with beautifully finished and innovative movements. We talk to François-Paul Journe about his philosophy, pursuit of excellence, and his support for young watchmaking talent.
At your manufacture and your workshops, you do everything from making parts to full watch assembly. What are some of the challenges with maintaining such a manufacture?
It’s just something that we do. There is no real challenge. We do it because this is the philosophy of the brand – to have everything integrated as much as possible.
What are the advantages of having the same watchmaker assemble the entire watch?
For the watch, there is no specific advantage. But for the watchmaker, he can see the entire process. Our main challenge is to have watchmakers who can do everything. With other brands, sometimes they need to split the assembly because each watchmaker doesn’t have the full knowledge to assemble the complete watch. The challenge [for us is] to hire watchmakers who really know everything from A to Z. We do complications because I love complications. It’s not a business decision – there is nothing predefined in advance.
What are some of the adjustments that have been made to the different movements over the years?
The updates are not major changes, [these are small adjustments] to improve the proper working for the watch, for the date, for the discs. Other changes might be to reduce the friction. It’s not major changes that we make. For example, the Vagabondage – we’ve improved the movement and made the winding more smooth and more efficient. It isn’t a huge thing but brings more comfort to the collector.
You also run the annual Young Talent Competition – why do you support this? What have you noticed with the candidates who enter the competition? Any advice for applicants for the 2023 competition?
The competition was started in Basel by the AHCI originally. They did one display to promote one watchmaker, given their financial limitations. We came on board as a main sponsor and started doing an event around this. There were a few changes within the organisation of the AHCI, and so after a few years of the partnership, we decided to take on the competition. We did it alongside FHH and The Hour Glass for a few years, and now we do it in partnership with The Hour Glass.
Usually the candidates who apply – their first piece cannot be perfect. The jury understands that.
I have no specific advice [to applicants] but to just do your best. If you don’t win, you can enter again as long as you’re under 30 years old.
Any messages for your collectors in Asia-Pacific?
Thank you for your continued support.