What I enjoy most about watchpatina.com is the first stage of the creative process: Meeting with someone and their favorite watch. There’s nothing more pleasurable than sitting back – listening to their story – and jotting down some notes. To me, an online review or coffee table book only scratch the surface when it comes to learning about a watch. To best understand a watch or brand, nothing beats holding it in the palm of your hand and seeing it through the eye’s of the owner. This is how you begin to feel what they feel and gain a new level of respect for the timepiece and enthusiasm for it.
Osama loves his F.P. Journe watches as much as a parent loves their children. He speaks of the brand as if it were a religion – a way of life. Knowing the high esteem he has for its namesake and founder, I joked with Osama the first time we met that “he’d probably take a bullet for François-Paul.” He didn’t rule out the scenario…seriously…he thought about it. Later that evening he wrote in an email to me: “I probably might take a bullet for Journe haha…”
Osama is probably best-known for his popular and provoking Instagram account – @thejourneguy. Just scroll a few weeks’ worth of his posts and you’ll bear witness to where his loyalty lies: He’s very blunt – to put it mildly – about F.P. Journe’s supremacy among other brands. His memes have been known to incite a riot of comment wars with people…accusing him of making blasphemous remarks about their favorite brands – the venerable Patek Philippe surprisingly among them. But Osama is a chip off the old block – and just like Mr. Journe – he doesn’t care what others think…Osama speaks his mind, and moves to his own beat.
Most people take what he says with a grain of salt and play along. Most people are able to read between the lines of his memes: They know his sense of humor has less to do with having a disdain for other brands and everything to do with showing his profound respect for François-Paul Journe’s approach to watchmaking.
The wellspring of emotion Osama feels toward François-Paul and his watches is owed to Daniel Jordan – the boutique manager of Swiss Fine Timing – an F.P. Journe authorized dealer in the Midwest. A year and a half ago, Osama visited the boutique on an innocent recon mission about a Zenith. By chance, he strapped on a Chronomètre Bleu in tantalum upon Daniel’s offer. That encounter “changed his life” forever…
Usually it’s the dial’s myriad blue hues or the 18K rose-gold movement that seal the deal for prospective buyers and collectors. For Osama, those design details and technical qualities hit him like a ton of bricks – but only later. Initially – within the first three seconds actually – it was just a “connection” he felt with the Bleu that sold him.
From that moment he resolved to own this watch. Everyday it occupied his mind. Whenever an Internet search box appeared on his laptop screen, he looked up “F.P. Journe,” “Journe,” “François-Paul Journe,” – you get the idea…The more he learned about François-Paul’s story, the more he wanted one of his watches and to be a part of Journe’s dream: Invenit et Fecit – A Latin phrase meaning “He invented it and made it.”
It wasn’t long before a Chronomètre Bleu was on his wrist. He made plenty of sacrifices along the way – including skimping on groceries to save up. To this day, Osama’s not above getting teary-eyed – on the spot – at the mention of Journe’s name – or by himself – when he’s alone with his Bleu.
Osama is fully aware that some people may perceive his revere for F.P. Journe as a little fanatical. Especially when they find out he commissioned a bobblehead of François-Paul. Wait…what? Uh huh…Osama had not one, but three lifelike bobbleheads handcrafted to his exacting standards: One for himself, one for a fellow faithful collector, and the last one – he hoped – to present to François-Paul. (As you can tell by the picture above, Osama recently met François-Paul and François-Paul met mini-François.)
François-Paul’s integrity is a defining characteristic of his company. Journe has no problem setting business goals aside to uphold his principles: Osama told me that Journe turned down the sale of a 650,000 CHF Grand Sonnerie because the person requesting it didn’t exhibit the passion he felt the watch deserved.
Like Osama, François-Paul’s life revolves around his watches. Journe even rents a house in Geneva and opts to not own a car…He’d rather plow profits back into his company – and in turn, the future of horology – than put excess money in his own pocket. In fact, the salary he pays himself wouldn’t even afford him the disposable income to purchase one of his timepieces.
When Osama pits François-Paul’s integrity and genius against other heavyweight brands – to him – F.P. Journe delivers a first-round knockout against all opponents. Osama knows F.P. Journe is not for everybody. He respects people’s decision to buy and wear other watches, but that doesn’t mean he’ll refrain from pointing out the err of their ways…Although they may seem harsh at times, his words are not meant to push down other brands, but rather to raise up the gifted-ability of François-Paul Journe.
Osama admits – at this point – he’s a “blind follower” of François-Paul: If Mr. Journe told Osama to jump off a bridge, he probably would. So when Journe is quoted saying that his Résonance watch is his “personal best achievement,” you can bet it found its way onto Osama’s short-list of F.P. Journe’s to own someday…(For more information on the history of the Chronomètre à Résonance, click here to read Time Keeper: John & F.P. Journe.)
Recently, Osama was fortunate to acquire a Chronomètre à Résonance. He specifically coveted an early example – one telltale sign being the sub-dials are screwed through “domed” end pieces rather than more “bell-curved” shaped prongs found on later models. Other attributes that make it a special timepiece to collectors and Osama are it’s rare brass movement and platinum case – Journe’s preferred precious metal.
Having gotten to know Osama a little, passion doesn’t seem a strong enough word to describe his relationship with F.P. Journe. Yet to say he’s obsessed is too simple and shortsighted a characterization. He falls somewhere in the middle…
Paraphrasing his own words: He’s simply living the dream of F.P. Journe. When Osama looks at an F.P. Journe watch, he sees a living and breathing legacy that he is blessed to be a part of…