F.P. Journe "Centigraphe Souverain"


What can I say? To be honest I feel that I should spare you my blabber and jump straight to the video. However, a proper introduction is in order. The "Centigraphe" has been open debate and discussion on many forums regarding its ability to indeed measure or not 1/100 of a second. Obviously for those not foreign to math there is something that does not add up when you have a 21,600 v/h (3hz.) movement that is meant to split 1 second into 100. Now the challenge here is how to explain how this is achieved without going into cryptic technical lingo. First let me explain that in order to rigorously split 1 second into 1/100 of a second you need 360,000 v/h, and that is equivalent to a 50hz. movement. Technologically we are NO-WAY-NEAR those figures. Actually the highest rated RELIABLE movements are and have been for the last 40-something years a solid 5hz. There have been developments lately where speeds have been increased to over 10hz. yet these are very doubtful (at least to me) over the sort-run. One of the main problems of higher speeds is the size of the balance wheel. The faster it goes, the smaller it has to be. The smaller it is, the harder it is to adjust and therefore be precise... So in other words, all that you gain on one side you loose on the other. Personally I very much enjoy "slow" movements with HUGE balance wheels that keep me hypnotized when I look at them from time to time. Personally I see no such emotion in an ultrafast micro balance wheel. To be honest, all that speed is really not necessary and improvements should be made in the longevity of the materials and precision of the manufactured parts instead. There are much more benefits to be gained here pushing quality instead of speed.

Now back to our 100th of a second Chronograph. As you might have guessed (or not if you do the math) a 3hz. movement will be able to split a second into six parts. The "Centigraphe" is a Foudroyante that does just that (like all other Foudroyante chronographs if I might add). The difference here is that the Centigraphe can stop the counter between any of the six 6th of a second transitions. The scale is set to 100 increments that the hand of the Foudroyante can be stopped at any time. So, yes, in a way IT IS and IS NOT a 100th of a second chronograph. The only drawback is that the hand of the Foudroayante remains a bit longer in its six pre-marked positions (as you will be able to see in the video) and the chances are that you will stop the hand on one of these is higher the the rest. If you play long enough you will see indeed that the hand of the Foudroyante CAN actually stop anywhere on the 100 marked spots. Enjoy...


NOTE: I have, and will in the future, deliberately skip any references as to the "chronometrical" aspect of the tested watch/es. The reason being that such test are futile, misleading and either unfair to the brand or the owner. Should a "particular" watch be deficient in its function that does not mean that all are. The same is true the other way around, if one works that does not mean that they ALL work. However, references about known issues with specific movements or a faulty after-sales service will NOT be left out.


  • WOW!
  • The box is beautiful but serves like most others little purpose after the initial "contact"
  • A very elegant watch despite its quite aggressive dial design
  • The crown is very easy to grip and handle as it should be for a manual
  • Movement finish is impeccable and in accord with the level of watch but I am missing at least one inward angle
  • The ardillon buckle is in platinum matching the case (not always a given in the trade)
  • The start/stop button is easy to grip and operate but feels a bit "flimsy"






    • Seconds-stop function: n/a
    • Date change: n/a
    • Alignment of hands at 12 o'clock: PERFECT
    • Alignment of chronograph hands: PERFECT
    • Anti-reflective coating: none
    • Contrast Day: ***
    • Visibility Night: none
    • Watch Case: *****
    • Strap: *****
    • Ardillon Buckle: ****
    • Crown: *****
    • Watch Case: *****
    • Bracelet/Strap/Buckle: *****
    • Dial & Hands: *****
    • Crown: *****
    • Movement: *****
    Price: Aprox. 55,110 €


    Few watches give the impression of being something special the very first moment you hold them. Wether it is the extraordinary finish or the heft of the platinum case combined with a solid gold movement, the Centigraphe transmits a feeling of superlative right from the start. Much like a dark grey Aston Vantage rolling slowly down Bond Street after short rain shower, it just transmits luxury and more important, taste like only few other items. An F. P. Journe has no need to be oversized or laced with diamonds to make a statement, and nothing makes a bigger statement than something that does not need to shout. Discretion and a strict abidance by it's horological philosophy makes Journe a joy to own. No bells nor whistles, just pure watchmaking.

    It has been 3 weeks now with the Centigraphe and despite all the discussion regarding it's capability or not to measure accurately the 100th of a second being only a 3hz. movement, it is a stunning piece of work. In the end, who cares if it accurately measures the 100th of a second? It's not the point. I can't shake the feeling that all this discussion is distracting the general "connoisseurs" from what is a very impressive piece of craftsmanship. Quite frankly, I got this piece for many reasons and it being able to accurately measure the 100th part of a second had not ever crossed my mind... Furthermore, I would find it quite intriguing should there be somebody out there that did. Hell, if anybody thought they had the reflexes to make this complication really count... what a retard. Anybody with the need for such precision would most likely turn to sensor triggers and electronics, but definitely NOT an idiot's index finger. So, to that aspect I consider the matter closed.

    One of my first surprises at first contact with the Centigraphe was the rubberized back and sides of the strap. I was not acquainted with this strap version/model and it seemed a bit awkward at first, mainly because I expected a full crocodile front and back strap. Plus, the day that I picked it up it was over 30º Celsius. Rubber is not my favorite choice for the summer except for when you are at the beach. After only one week I can only recommend this version, the reason being: the weight of the watch itself, remember platinum and massive gold movement, make it a bit heavy on a leather strap. Heavy watches on leather straps tend to be uncomfortable. You either wear it tight or it will wear you out over time. Now, having the extra grip of the rubber on the inside of the strap fixes that issue completely. It helps maintain the watch in place without the need to "strangle" your wrist. This is especially welcomed in the summer. Almost forgot; the buckle is in Platinum. Normal you would say, but not all prestige power-houses match ardillon buckles or deployment buckles to the case. It is sometimes so that platinum watches get white gold buckles or titanium watches get steel buckles. For instance, I recall that AP's "Montoya" in titanium was fitted with a steel deployment buckle...

    Operating the watch, especially the chronometer takes a bit to get used to since it's not a classic chronograph disposition. Over time you become aware that this alternative to place the pusher is actually better than the classic chronograph pushers placement. This "rocking-lever" has excellent grip and is easy to operate due to the placement, however it feels a bit flimsy or loose. The crown is an absolute treat to use for setting of winding the watch. The grip of the crown is simply perfection. Unfortunately the winding has no slipping differential and could be easily damaged if wound with heft. Winding has to be done in a careful manner, too careful for my taste since the winding resistance is harder than average. There are no references as to power reserve or winding state so that you can stop before you reach critical. The lack of a power reserve is also a negative point in this case, mainly because there is quite a large disparity between the actual power reserve when the chronograph is activated or not. Mind you, it is a Foudroyante and it should not be left running without purpose. Measuring my tea or eggs four times in one winding circle (about 80-hours) will not influence the length much. Rather, it is a matter of "completing" the complication.

    I admit I have exceptional eye sight (and I am not bragging here...) so visibility issues are not really a problem for me. When I rate visibility I try to be as picky as I possibly can. Especially after crossing the 40's barrier things tend to go worse in the eyesight department. The reading of the chronograph I found easy but I admit that a regular chronograph is easier to interpret. The detail of the dial is simply breathtaking as you can see from the pictures. The contrast between the hours and minutes is good enough yet the front glass is not anti-glare treated on the outside. This attracts a lot of reflections especially on bright summer days. Mind you, I would not like this watch with anti-glare treatment since it would loose some of its flare.

    As a hole I would place the Centigraphe in the section of VERY special superlative chronographs. In that section I count; Lange's "DoubleSplit", Richard Mille's "RM004v2", Jaeger leCoultre's "ExtremeLab 2", Patek Philippe's "5950" and possibly AP's "Carbon Concept 1". A wonderful piece of work by F.P. Journe, yes Sir...


    Perpetuelle said...

    awesome review!

    KronosClub said...