Parmigiani Fleurier : Celebrating a glorious heritage

Parmigiani Ovale Pantographe

Ovale Pantographe
Case : pink gold, sapphire back, water-resistant to 30m DIMENSIONS : 45 x 37.7mm
Movement : mechanical manual-winding (PF111, 8-day power reserve) FUNCTIONS : hours, minutes, date, power reserve

Dial : silver-toned guilloché, pantograph-type hands
Strap : Hermès black alligator leather, pin buckle

Toric Chronomètre
Case : white gold, sapphire back, water-resistant to 30m
Size : 40.8mm

Movement : mechanical self-winding (PF331, 55h power reserve)

Functions : hours, minutes, seconds, date

Dial : opaline black or grained white, luminescent hours and minutes hands

Strap: Hermès black alligator leather, pin buckle

An independent brand with integrated workshops for the creation of its movements, dials, cases, micro components and strategic components, Parmigiani enjoys a freedom on which it draws in giving rise to technical and aesthetically sophisticated watches. They are generally inspired by the historical works that pass through the hands of the in-house watchmakers specializing in restoration. This activity represents the very soul of the brand. Michel Parmigani is an expert in this field to which he devoted all his energies until the time of his encounter with the President of the Sandoz Family Foundation who, after entrusting him with the maintenance of an estimably precious collection, was to give him the means to produce watches under his own name. Ever since, restoration continues to provide knowledge and skills that are beneficial to presentday creations. At Parmigiani Fleurier, restoration is a brand philosophy, a token of virtuosity in the pursuit of excellence.

Telescopic complication

The Ovale Pantographe provides a perfect example of the ties the brand cultivates with watchmaking history. It picks up the aesthetics and the complication of a 1780 pocket-watch that made a strong impression during its passage through the Parmigiani Fleurier restoration workshop in 1997. Framed by an oval-shaped case, carefully designed to moderate femininity with certain distinctively masculine accents, the pantograph – named after a drawing instrument featuring jointed rigid bars – refers to a system enabling hands to be extended or shortened as they make their way around the dial. These telescopic structures comprise 30 elements composed of a magnesium-based aluminum alloy, the only material capable of ensuring the required mobility. To avoid any confusion in readings, the minutes hand never retracts before the hours hand has done so. The dial adorned with a barleycorn motif brings a sense of depth and sophistication to this watch powered by an all pink gold movement calling for particular expertise, given that the ductile nature of this metal involves unusual constraints in terms of machining and finishing.

Greek inspiration

The fact that historical Toric Chonomètremasterpieces are a major source of inspiration for Parmigiani Fleurierstems from their ability to endure, a fundamental concern for watchmaking along with the quest for precision. The Toric, the first watch designed by Michel Parmigiani, followed this guiding principle in a case evoking the base of Ancient Greek columns through its gadroons and its knurled patterns. For the new Toric Chronomètre, the shape has been revitalized and pared down, notably thanks to less curvaceous lines, more functional lugs and a less sizeable crown. In a collection dedicated to Haute Horlogerie, the movement crafted from extremely high-quality components meets the finest standards of excellence with regard to precision and reliability. The oscillating weight adorned with a hand-guilloché barleycorn motif adds to the refinement of the calibers engraved with an individual certification number.

GMT_XXL_CH_2017_ipad-182The elegance of the Toric Chronomètre is also manifest in the opaline black or delicately grained white dials. The latter, a typical brand characteristic, involve manual expertise that consists in brushing the surfaces with a mixture of salt and silver powder, and in sensing the advancement of the work that is only revealed once complete. The subtle nature of this model find supreme expression in the extremely slim Arabic  numerals, a half minute track around the circumference, long javelin-style hours and minutes hands, as well as an elegant date sector. Form and substance meet and mingle to ensure that the Toric Chronomètre eloquently conveys the nature of time, the horological mastery of its manufacturer, as well as the good taste of the man or woman who wears it.

Enchanting creations

Tonda 1950 Galaxy
Case : pink gold, diamond-set bezel, sapphire back, water-resistant to 30m Size : 39mm
Movement : mechanical self-winding (PF702, 48h power reserve) Functions : hours, minutes DIAL : blue aventurine glass, luminescent hands Strap : Hermès indigo blue alligator leather, pin buckle

Tonda 1950 galaxyBorn under the magnificently clear night sky of the Val-de Travers that is home to Parmigiani Fleurier, the Tonda 1950 Galaxy showcases the artistry of the in-house dial-makers. They have drawn inspiration from the millions of stars twinkling at night in a region where their glow is virtually unperturbed by any manmade light sources. Like true alchemists, these artisans experiment, test and invent recipes to magnify the dials that pass through their hands. They have crafted dainty marvels by reproducing the deep blue of a night sky, one of the most difficult colors to reconstitute. To achieve this, they have used aventurine glass, a material created by chance in 18th century Murano when a glassblower accidentally dropped copper filings into molten glass. Surprised by the dazzling result, he adopted the formula and named his find “aventurine” (after the Italian phrase per avventura which means “by chance”). The golden particles on the aventurine glass (also known as goldstone) sparkle at the center of the halo formed by the diamonds set on the bezel. The celestial composition is complemented by a small “nebula” formed by the white opal adorning the crown.

Doubly lunarTonda Métropolitaine Sélène

The Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène incorporates a moon-phase indication via a 24-hour disk adorned with two moons appearing in turn above cloudlike wreathes. They have the strange red tinge of nights when the night star appears low on the horizon, and their surfaces are enhanced by craters and lunar seas. This extremely realistic appearance is achieved by a complex artisanal process that involves superimposing transfers. The lotus flower appearing at the center of the all mother-of-pearl dial – one of the two available options – represents a feat in its own right. Finely cut out like exquisite lacework, it is composed of two layers, one varnished and then satin-brushed, and the other polished. Thanks to the play on depth and contrast, the white lotus – which in nature opens at nightfall – takes on an even more marvelous radiance, accentuating the femininity of this Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène fitted with a leather strap or steel bracelet.

Mother-of-pearl sunbeamsKalpa Donna

Several new Kalpa Donna models adopt their mother-of-pearl for splendid lilac or mandarin-colored, white or Tahitian mother-of-pearl dials that are radiant in every way. The precious material is engraved with segments that shine out from the center towards the rim as if to indicate the hours. The composition evokes guilloché decors coated with flinqué translucent enamel evoking subtly printed sheer fabrics. A tiny diamond at 12 o’clock accentuates the play on light in all its flaming glory. The back reveals its central lug-shaped central bridge – a symbol of Parmigiani Fleurier – echoed by engravings liberally sprinkled across the other surfaces and that are particularly tricky to create given the nature and the thickness of the metal. Each dial color has its matching leather strap, unless one prefers to opt for the metal bracelet version.

Diamond mosaic pattern

The elegantly full-set Tonda 1950 Clarity introduces a particularly vibrant Tonda 1950 Claritydiamond pattern. After exploring options from one sketch to another, Parmigiani Fleurier finally opted for a structure producing a trompe-l’oeil domed-dial effect. The stones are small in the dial center, becoming gradually larger towards the middle of the paved effect, before tapering off again so as to fit perfectly between the hour-markers. There is nothing static about this mosaic pattern, since the in-house artisans have succeeded in infusing it with a new form of life by using brilliant-cut diamonds of five different sizes, carefully calibrated and set with the utmost accuracy. There are 620 in all for a total of 2.495 carats, along with the 84 on the bezel totaling 0.646 carat. Interpreted in three opulently fairytale variations, the Tonda 1950 Clarity pushes femininity to extremes when teamed with a flower-design stamped pearly calfskin strap.

More on Parmigiani watch brand

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

Review overview
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