The story of this watch begins in 2009, when Eleanor Coppola presented her husband, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, with a watch (Chronomètre à Résonance) she found chic. Delighted with the gift, the legendary filmmaker requested the watchmaker, François-Paul Journe, to meet him. In 2012, they met and discussed the various principles of representing the passing of time. Coppola asked Journe if a watchmaker had ever considered displaying the hours by counting them on his or her fingers, just what people used to do before watches were invented. The concept of counting the hours with five fingers appealed to François-Paul, who, in 2014, took up the challenge of inventing an animated hand, capable of displaying the hours in the same way on a watch. Thus he started prototyping the FFC Blue watch the same year. The unique piece was introduced in 2021. This year, the brand has released a new version, FFC 2023.
Hands On: How Does the FFC 2023 Watch Work?
To tell the time, the ‘digits’ snap in and out of position, in accordance with the hour. When the ‘human hand’ on the timepiece folds, the four fingers of the watch hand retract into the palm. Despite the retraction, the curve of the knuckle is very similar to that of a human hand — as if the fingers have magically curled down. The fingers are animated and disappear instantaneously. Even the way the thumb extends inwards and outwards, despite the fact that it’s only moving on one axis, is quite impressive.
Using only the energy coming from the barrel and ensuring a power reserve of five days for the piece, the watchmaker has installed a remontoir d’égalité between the primary gear train and the display. This is also followed for clocks found in town halls or clock towers (turret clocks and so on), especially when the hands to be moved are long and heavy. Every hour, for 40 minutes, the remontoir d’égalité — formed by a spring blade enclosed in a kind of barrel, a trigger and a sort of anchor mounted on one side of a wheel with an eccentric at its centre — is rewound by the movement. On the hour, the mechanism, described by François-Paul as a sort of escapement acting once an hour, is released so that the energy accumulated from the main barrel can, through the intermediary of this tangentially acting fork, set in motion the series of 10 cams, whose purpose is to control the movement of the fingers of the hand.
Back in Time
As far as display of time is concerned, the brand seems to have pushed the boundaries of miniaturisation. It has taken seven years of incessant labour to make the watch mechanism reliable. The watchmaker has also managed to integrate all components of the automatic caliber into a case measuring 42 mm in diameter and 10.7 mm in thickness. Despite the complexity, this watch is no thicker than another model equipped with the same movement. To achieve this, François-Paul eliminated the dial and replaced the minute hand with a rotating ring mounted on a large extra-flat ball bearing.
The FFC 2023 watch is powered by F.P.Journe calibre 1300.3 in 18 ct rose gold, with mechanical and unidirectional automatic winding. The movement comes with a rotor in 22 ct white gold, which is off-centred and engraved with ‘F.F.COPPOLA F.P.Journe’.