F.P. Journe Sonnerie Souveraine $650,000 Watch Hands-On
The watch is a "Grand Strike clock and minute repeater-" aka, a "Grand Sonnerie." This means that on the one hand, it is a minute repeater (which allows you to activate a mechanism that "repeats" the time back to you in a audio code form), and features and a striking complication (sonnerie). A striking complication is what most people think about when they "hear" clock in their head. It is a function that performs various chimes at regular intervals. This watch "strikes" each quarter hour. During this strike, the sound again is an audio code that when read tells you the time It has two modes to do this "grande" and "petite." This is for a "full" sound with a bit more information (hour and quarter hour), and a "smaller" sound (with just the quarter hour indicated). The watch also has a silent mode if you do not wish to hear chimes each 15 minutes. You can see the mode selection dial on the bottom of the dial that says "G, S, P." The dial also features a power reserve indicator near the top of the dial. Time is displayed via an off-centered watch faces (with subsidiary seconds), and the dial also features a view of the hammers (the two of them are stacked) for the chiming mechanism.
Without and strikes, the manually wound Calibre 1505 movement has 120 hours of power reserve, but retains a respectable 24-48 hours of power reserve with chiming complications active. The Sonnerie Souveraine comes in a 42mm wide that is steel. The case is just over 12mm thick. Wait, did I say steel case for a watch costing over half a million dollars? Yes I did. Why steel? Well the answer is really simple. Most people that make expensive watches are interested in the luxury side of things, and realize that people spending that much was precious metals in their watch. While F.P. Journe clearly likes using gold and platinum in his watches, he also is a fan of high-functionality. The fact is that gold and platinum are softer metals and absorb sound. You don't spend big money on a complicated watch only for "muted" functionality. Steel is much better for sound resonance. Therefore, to achieve the best possible sound from this grand sonnerie watch, F.P. Journe decided to craft it in steel. A good decision.
The F.P. Journe is an amazing treat for watch lovers. It takes literally years of being a watch lover to appreciate fine things like this. The lay person may be able to appreciate the design, and marvel at the functions, but like a (very) fine wine, you need to taste many others to see the real value here.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch reviews site aBlogtoRead.com.