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The F.P. Journe Élégante 48mm – Rewiring watchmaking

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it.

It felt like only yesterday that I agreed with a friend how it was a shame that the Élégante line was only available for woman. But now our prayers have been heard, behold the F.P. Journe Élégante 48mm, arguably the best quartz luxury watch in the world.

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To understand any quartz watch however first requires a little history lesson. For most watch collectors who look back at their first “real“ watch, they think of a mechanical one. As the smartphone has driven the wristwatch into obsolescence, watchmaking has now survived as an art. In short, if the quartz watch was a ballpoint pen, then the mechanical watch is a fountain-pen.

Because of this, it takes a LOT of effort to sell a quartz piece to hard-core watch collectors, and these are the customers of F.P. Journe.

That a brand like this invested 8 years of research and development into a women’s quartz watch back in 2014 may have been a surprise to many. Unfortunately men were out of luck, as the watch was only produced in a series for ladies. On that note Mr. Journe commented:

“Women buy differently than men. And that is not meant to be sexist but it is a fact. A woman buys for the right reasons because they like it. A man will buy something because the man needs to justify the purchase mechanically.“

So why does Mr. Journe now think that the Élégante is ready for men?

To begin with the movement driving the Élégante, the caliber 1210, which is capable of even making a mechanical watch-lover’s legs go soft. And who said quartz movements cant be pretty? With a solid rose gold bridge and the circuits being laid out behind the sapphire caseback this is sure to catch some attention.

But the Élégante can do more than charm us with its looks. Its movement has a system where if you don’t use your watch for 30 minutes it puts itself to sleep. Once back on your wrist, it will awake from hibernation and automatically set to the correct time. This is achieved through a little pendulum which is visible at 4 o’clock and records any movement. What this does, other than impressing your friends, is save battery and allows for 8-10 years battery life in daily use and up to 18 years in standby mode.

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The watch offers a more sporty alternative to Journe’s normal line-up. The quartz movement automatically makes it tougher than any mechanical piece, and the titanium case and rubber strap make for a comfortable, light, and durable watch. In other words, if you can’t go without your luxury watch, but you still want to play sports, this watch is your best bet.

If all this wasn’t enough, the watch has a fully luminous dial in line with its utilitarian spirit. This was what probably surprised me most, but it just makes so much sense, and that is for three main reasons. First of all, it makes for a very visible timepiece even in low light conditions. Secondly, it allows for finer indices and hands which don’t need to be broad to grant space for the lume. And thirdly, it’s just so cool.

Watch lovers readily dismiss quartz watches, but this piece is important because it goes a long way, not only in showing the world how courageous F.P. Journe is in making a watch like this, but also how cool a quartz watch can be if a watchmaker gives it a chance.