The Watchmaker François-Paul Journe Opens a Restaurant

The seaweed-wrapped leek fondant circle, sitting on a generous pour of pea-green wild herb sabayon sauce and topped with yellow and red flower petals, made for a colorful (and tasty) contrast to the gray November skies visible through the arched windows at F.P. Journe Le Restaurant.

One of Geneva’s newest gastronomic additions, the restaurant opened officially on Nov. 1. And many familiar faces in this watch industry town have come by to try Dominique Gauthier’s menus, created in collaboration with the celebrated independent watchmaker François-Paul Journe.

The 52-seat restaurant is on the Rue du Rhône, the city’s most luxurious shopping street — nestled between Bally and Prada, across the road from Gucci and Versace and a block from Patek Philippe, Richard Mille and Bucherer. Since 2014, Mr. Journe had been the co-owner of two other restaurants in the space, although neither carried his name, and the building had been closed for the past four years for structural renovations.

Mr. Gauthier said the two first met in April, when he was looking for a new challenge after 30 years at Hôtel Beau-Rivage, a luxury hotel here in the city.

“I like watches,” said Mr. Gauthier, who on this particular day was wearing an Omega Seamaster (Journe’s marketing director said the brand will make him a “kitchen proof” timepiece). “And François-Paul is really into good food and wine. He has the sensibility and appreciation.”

Mr. Journe, however, calls himself a hobby cook for friends and family. “I am very much below Gauthier’s level,” he said. “But maybe I will cook in the restaurant if somebody is missing, then I will be there to help out.”

The restaurant serves lunch on Mondays through Fridays and dinner, Monday through Thursday; it is closed on weekends. And there is a small boutique near the entrance where guests may buy F.P. Journe-branded delicacies including olive oil, wine and chocolates.

The enterprise is part of a trend among luxury brands — including Breitling, Gucci and Louis Vuitton — to open restaurants. “With the explosive growth in luxury goods, brands are looking for other ways to bring the brand alive, to bring value for the customer,” said Matthias Fuchs, a strategic marketing and branding specialist and an assistant professor at the EHL Hospitality Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

While the menus, at least so far, do not include horological references, Mr. Journe has placed some among the restaurant’s oak wall panels, oak ceilings and red-covered banquettes (all of which date from a 1942 renovation and which Geneva authorities declared under heritage protection in 2012).

Some are subtle, such as cutlery with decoration resembling guilloché, or machine-aided hand engraving, which is often applied to F.P. Journe dials. And the tables have little plaques bearing the names of legendary watchmakers such as Abraham-Louis Breguet, Christiaan Huygens and Hans Wilsdorf. (The only living watchmaker included? Mr. Journe, of course.)

Less subtle references are the watch components captured in the resin knife handles and the wall decorations, which include a 17th century astronomical clock and framed prints of 12 of the 19 calibers that F.P. Journe, the brand, has presented in its 24 years of existence.

During Mr. Journe’s career, his motto has been “Invenit et Fecit” — Latin for “He invented it and made it.” The menu cover is debossed with “Invenit et Coxit,” or “He invented it and cooked it.”

But then, as Mr. Gauthier said as he looked up at the large F.P. Journe clock on the wall of his gleaming stainless steel kitchen: “Time in cooking is super important.”

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