Already known for its passion for mechanical challenges, Parmigiani Fleurier sets the bar high once again with a new movement, a limited edition watch and a breath-taking automaton, writes Evan Rast
Independent watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier is well known in the realm of haute horlogerie for its dedication to artistry. The manufacture, though relatively young, has become a favourite among luxury watch lovers for its exceptional quality and attention to detail.
Certainly, among Parmigiani Fleurier’s talents is being able to showcase its watchmaking knowledge – partly from restoring historical timepieces – into creative and modern works that show a unique sense of style.
The collections, starting from the simpler ladies models going all the way to grand complications and objet d’ art, are easy to distinguish because of their unifying codes: an easy elegance, technical savvy, and polished workmanship.
This year, the manufacture presents three exquisite models, each more impressive than the last.
Tonda 1950 Special Edition
Paying tribute to the year Michel Parmigiani, the CEO and founder of Parmigiani Fleurier, was born, the Tonda 1950 Special Edition features a unique dial created in the same lines as the collection, which was inspired by the spiral.
A unique ‘grille’ that shows a glimpse of the gear trains and was created using the LIGA technique (a combination of lithography, electroplating and moulding that provides very precise results), gives the watch a very modern look. With its round, ergonomic lugs, clean lines and fine profile, the Tonda 1950 Special Edition clearly identifies with the DNA of the brand.
Fitted with the in-house automatic calibre PF701 –among the world’s thinnest at 2.6mm – the timepiece offers a 42-hour reserve, with hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock.
The 30mm watch has on off-centre oscillating micro weight made from 950 platinum, and the finishing that distinguishes haute horlogerie: a sand-blasted, circular-grained and rhodium main plate, and Côtes de Genève-decorated bridges.
A limited number of 60 numbered pieces will be produced, all in grade 5 titanium and matched with alligator straps from Hermes.
Tonda Retrograde Annual Calendar
The Tonda collection, with its round case and streamlined design, has featured many complications, including a tourbillon, perpetual calendar and chronograph. Seeing that an annual calendar was missing in the series, Parmigiani Fleurier developed its 17th in-house movement, based on the PF331 automatic, the PF 339 Annual Calendar.
A function that accounts for the variation in the number of days in each month, the annual calendar is actually quite useful. The complication ensures that the date display will be on track, with no need for adjustment whether there are 28, 30 or 31 days in a month, that is, except if it's a leap year.
In the Tonda Retrograde Annual Calendar, the date is shown by a retrograde display on the outer dial. The date of the week is positioned at 9 o’clock, while the month, shown in numeral form, is at 3 o’clock. A moon phase indicator, that requires only one correction every 120 years, completes the dial with two displays in rose gold detailing: one for the Northern hemisphere, and one for the Southern hemisphere.
The PR339, offering 55 hours of reserve power, is housed in a 40mm rose gold or white gold case. The dial is either silver or charcoal grey, featuring barley grain décor in the centre and a charcoal or silvered opaline ring.
Le Dragon et la Perle du Savoir
Saving the best for last, we come to Parmigiani Fleurier’s unique piece, a yearly tradition of creating an objet d’ art that showcases most, if not all, of their watchmakers’ and artisans’ expertise in one amazing product.
With a price tag of approximately US$3.5 million, Le Dragon et la Perle du Savoir (The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom) is an extraordinary clock that took more than 6,000 hours to produce.
Celebrating the Chinese Year of the Dragon, Parmigiani Fleurier brings to life the legend of a carp that possessed enough strength and perseverance to swim upstream to reach the Dragon gate, and was transformed into a dragon as a reward for his efforts.
A dragon, sculpted in 18k gold and sterling silver with different animal features, sits on a rock crystal base allowing a view of the mechanism. The dragon‘s fully formed body makes one full turn on his base every hour, with claws stretched toward a globe that represents the pearl of wisdom. The ‘cat and mouse’ mechanism shows the pearl, wrapped in flames and encrusted with precious stones, escaping the dragon’s clutches six times an hour. A gong sounds each time the dragon renews its futile chase.
A gilded silver ring (one Chinese hour represents two hours) with jade indexes revolves every 24 hours.
All of Parmigiani Fleurier’s movements, cases, dials, and components are done in-house, through five workshops and the combined efforts of more than 500 watchmakers and craftsmen.
Written by Evan Rast
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