I should begin by confessing my earliest admiration for François-Paul Journe’s work, although this is no secret to anyone here who knows me. I first enjoyed a teaser sampler of François-Paul’s “Steel Time” collection in New York City back in late 2005, timed to coincide with the world-wide launch of the Sonnerie Souveraine (the first Journe steel watch and the Grand Prix d’Genève “The Golden Hand” top prize winner in 2006-to be followed in 2008 by the introduction of the Journe steel Répétition Souveraine). I admit that back then, the Sonnerie Souveraine stole the show and most everyone’s attention, but I never forgot the impact of the Steel Time examples displayed, thanks in large part to the Journe commissioned hard cover book written insightfully by renowned watch/clock historians Jean-Claude Sabrier and Georges Rigot to accompany the collection. It is a thoughtful and informative tome about the epoch and these watches, illustrated vividly with photography. Yet, as any watch collector knows, there is nothing like seeing a watch or a collection of 200 (many are unique pieces) in the flesh, or in this case, (pun intended) gunmetal.
The exhibit traces the apparition of these watches flowing from the exploitation of the newly discovered cutting-age material of that day, mislabeled gunmetal by the English. The highlights include historical creations, including, for instance, the engraved military academy watch of Captain Alfred Dreyfus.
– Marcel Philippe