I’ve noticed a trend with F.P. Journe watches in my time writing about them; it’s often intimate conversations with collectors or watchmakers that serve as the inspiration behind his most innovative timepieces. The F.P. Journe Octa S Sport is one of those watches. The watch was inspired by an F.P. Journe aficionado, who also happened to be a runner and triathlete. This collector wanted a super light, but durable sports watch with a high horology movement. This model the Octa S Sport, which was introduced in 2011, is F.P. Journe’s vision of a sports watch.
Offered initially with an aluminum case and an aluminum movement, the material was later upgraded to titanium in 2014, and that is the model you see here. This second-generation Octa S was made from 2014 to 2018, which makes it extremely rare due to Journe’s low production capacity. This switch to titanium increased the durability of the timepiece while maintaining its lightweight status. Depending on if one chooses the rubber strap or titanium bracelet, the watch weighs between 60-70 grams. For some perspective, that’s about half the weight of a Rolex Daytona. The switch to titanium also significantly changed the watch’s look, being a much darker shade of grey than the aluminum. Other than that, the design from first and second-generation Octa S is the same.
While Journe’s dress watches have a very original look, I would still say they’re traditional enough to appeal to the masses or at least appeal to most watch enthusiasts. With the Octa S, I can’t say the same. This is a pretty polarizing design. One of the main reasons for this is how Journe has aggressively used rubber on the case and bracelet. Both sides of the case, as well as the bracelet and crown, are flanked with rubber bumpers.
Thanks to the titanium case, the color contrast isn’t as drastic as it was on the aluminum models, but the rubber still stands out. But the rubber isn’t just to add a fun G-Shock vibe. Its use is rooted in practicality. It protects the case and bracelet from scratching and absorbs shocks to the watch, which keeps the case in better condition and the movement running smoothly. If the wearer actually plans on, you know, sporting with this watch, the bumpers should come in handy. Without this functional rationale, I don’t think I could get behind the design. But it is, and Journe’s motivation makes sense. Overall I like the quirky form follows function design. My only gripe is the water-resistance being just 30m, but as long as you know that going in, it’s still a capable dry sport watch.
Aside from the novel materials used, the general case and bracelet style still look very Journe. Even to the point that there is still a hint of Journe’s dress watch design that can be seen. This watch almost seems to me like a precursor to the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in that way; both of them are sports watches from primarily dress watch manufacturers, and it shows. Though between the two, the Octa S Sport design looks much more rugged and capable than the Odysseus.
Displayed on its deep slate grey dial, you have the traditionally styled Journe numerals with the date, power reserve, am-pm indicator, and a sub-seconds dial. I love the font used for the “Octa S” logo, as well as the use of white and red against the dark grey. For one, it’s very legible, and two, it gives off strong 90’s sportscar vibes in the best way. One look at the dial and it immediately lets you know this a watch to have fun with.
Powering the Octa S is a super-light aluminum version of the caliber 1300-3, which we see used—albeit in rose gold—throughout the Octa line. This means you get a tried and true movement with an exceptional 120-hour power reserve—160 in total but 120 without losing accuracy. Because the movement is so lightweight, Journe had to ensure the watch still wound efficiently. To solve for this, he cleverly put a strip of tungsten on the winding rotor, adding weight only where needed. The finishing is just as high quality as one would expect, but the aluminum gives it a novel appearance, especially when one is used to Journe’s rose gold movements. At any rate, observing the caliber 1300-3 through the display caseback is a treat regardless of the material.
The Octa S Sport is a watch you love or hate. The design either resonates with you or totally turns you off. That said, as much as this design might be a turn-off to some, I think most people who would be interested in a Journe timepiece in the first place will appreciate it. The fact that he takes inspiration directly from those who love his watches the most means F.P. Journe is a brand by watch nerds for watch nerds. I think that’s part of Journe’s secret sauce and is why is watches are so beloved. The Octa S Sport is undoubtedly a sports watch just for F.P. Journe fans; mass appeal be damned.