Introducing the F.P. Journe Vagabondage III, with instantaneous jumping seconds

On the 19th of December 2016, F.P. Journe sent out its wishes for the 2016-2017 holiday season, and teased a new timepiece that was going to be revealed on January 16, 2017. The video showed three discs, two of which were in close proximity and jumped instantaneously, and many – us included – took this to mean that the brand was planning to unveil the hotly anticipated Vagabondage III. Sure enough, that’s exactly what the brand revealed earlier this month.

Vagabondage III completes F.P. Journe’s planned trifecta.

Before we discuss the new timepiece, lets take a look at the previous Vagabondage models. The original first appeared in 2004, and was so named because of its ‘digital’ hour system that appeared to wander around the dial (around the balance wheel that sat at the centre). Vagabondage I did not bear F.P. Journe’s name anywhere on its dial, it had a flat ‘tortue’ case (basically a flat turtle shaped case), and was powered by a brass hand-wound movement.

In fact three piece unique (1/1) Vagabondage I models were produced (yellow-, white- and rose-gold) for the 30th anniversary of auction house Antiquorum. All three timepieces were auctioned in favor of the ICM Institute in Paris (each sold for three times the initial estimate), which works to fight against brain and spinal cord diseases.

Vagabondage I was an instant hit. The case was a departure from the traditional round cases that the brand typically uses.

Over the years F.P. Journe has continued to support this institute by directly donating proceeds from the sales of its watches. Most recently the independent watchmaker said that it would donate 30% of the profits from the sale of each of its boutique-only Centigraphe Souverain Anniversaire watches to the institute (read our story here).

Following the auction of the three piece unique Vagabondage I timepieces, Journe then released two limited editions between 2005 and 2006. The first was limited to 10-pieces and featured a platinum case with baguette diamonds, while the second platinum offering lacked baguette diamonds and was limited to 69-pieces. These retail editions also featured 18K rose-gold hand-wound movements, whereas the original three watches relied on brass hand-wound calibres.

Here’s one of the retail Vagabondage I timepieces, which features a 18K rose-gold bas plates and bridges.

The Vagabondage II was unveiled a few years later, in 2009, and offered digital hours and minutes. There were three editions of this timepiece – 10-pieces in platinum with baguette diamonds, 69-pieces in platinum, and 68-pieces in rose-gold. These timepieces had a standard running seconds sub-dial at the six o’clock position, a power reserve indicator at the 12 o’clock position, and indicated hours and minutes via rotating discs at the centre of the dial.

Vagabondage II was powered by the calibre 1509, a hand-wound calibre produced from 18K rose-gold. It offered approximately 28-hours of power reserve, and relied on a remontoir d’égalité (basically a type of constant force mechanism) that helped manage power for the instantaneous jumping minutes and hours discs.

Vagabondage II in platinum (left) and 18K rose-gold (right).

With that, it’s time to look at the newly released Vagabondage III, the last watch in the series. As before F.P. Journe’s name isn’t on the dial side of the timepiece, and you get the familiar tortue case (same size as Vagabondage II at 37.6mm in diameter) but that’s where the similarities end. The new timepiece has a single large disc that displays hours, positioned near the 10/11 o’clock position, and at approximately six o’clock, there are two discs that meet to indicate seconds. There’s also a power reserve indicator at the one o’clock position, and minutes are indicated by a traditional hand that sits at the centre of the dial.

Vagabondage III’s claim to fame is its instantaneous jumping hours and second’s discs (full sixty seconds), the latter is an impressive technical feat that we’ve not seen on any other timepiece. The instantaneous jumping seconds requires clever power management to ensure that the watch’s chronometry isn’t compromised, and to tackle this, F.P. Journe has once again turned to a patented remontoir d’égalité.

The white frames above each individual disc highlight the current indications. Note also the minute track on the edge of the dial.

Here this constant force mechanism stores and releases just the right amount of energy every second, to ensure the jumping seconds mechanism runs as it should, without compromising the timekeeping of the calibre. You can see Vagabondage III’s jumping seconds in action on our Facebook page (click here), and besides the impressive technical work that has gone into this timepiece, it’s just great to see so much consistent movement on the dial of a mechanical watch – we’re sure this will never get old.

The watch is powered by a brand new movement, known as the Calibre 1514. Like its predecessors it’s a manually wound movement, and F.P. Journe has fashioned its mainplate and bridges from 18K rose-gold. When fully wound the calibre offers 40-hours of power reserve, which is a significant improvement over its predecessors.

Calibre 1514 in Vagabondage III offers at least 40-hours of power reserve.

Vagabondage III will be offered in two editions, 69-pieces in platinum and 68-pieces in 18K rose-gold, and F.P. Journe says preference will be given to owners of the Vagabondage I and Vagabondage II. This makes perfect sense since there are many serious collectors who will be looking to complete their personal Vagabondage collections. The Vagabondage III in platinum is expected to cost US $56,000, while the rose-gold reference will cost $54,000.

To read more about F.P. Journe, click here.

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