Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor
The Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor, recently launched at SIHH 2018, is a fully integrated chronograph featuring a gold movement. Angus Davies discusses at length the numerous virtues of this new timepiece.
This in-depth review of the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor includes specification details and pricing.
Last year, I enthusiastically wrote about the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire. I found it difficult to hide my profound liking for this watch. Furthermore, I did not sit on the fence, proclaiming the watch to be ‘one of the finest chronographs available today’. I was not alone in my adoration of this watch. Later in 2017, the GPHG recognised its excellence, awarding it the ‘Chronograph Watch Prize’.
Now, Parmigiani Fleurier, the watch company from the Val-de-Travers, has been busy again, releasing three new Kalpa models, each housed in the Maison’s legendary tonneau shaped case. Every model effervesces with glorious styling. Curves, short teardrop lugs and optimal proportions differentiate the Kalpa from many comparatively mundane, round watches.
While I would gladly own any version of the aforementioned horological triumvirate, my heart is overwhelmingly drawn to the range’s pièce de résistance, the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor. The specification of this limited edition watch (50 pieces only) is infused with a legion of exquisite details and is deserving of much attention.
The dial is imbued with the artistic prowess of an Old Master’s work. Everything is the result of protracted thought. There are no signs of expedience.
Formed of two elements, the centre and the periphery, the dial is delivered in a sumptuous black hue. The centre of the dial epidermis sports an exquisite opaline finish. The periphery of the dial is adorned with ‘hand-worked braid-effect guilloché detail, conferring a wonderful texture and prepossessing beauty. A tachymeter encircles the central area of the dial.
The brand’s distinctive ‘Delta-shaped hands’ are lined with luminescent fill and gleam courtesy of their golden structure. The hands proclaim the time with peerless lucidity.
Two golden subdials are delivered with comely snailing. They are positioned slightly above the centre line running from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock, yet appear optimally placed. A 30-minute chronograph register resides at 3 o’clock, while positioned opposite is a 12-hour chronograph register.
In the southern portion of the dial, a twin-tipped hand collaborates with a small seconds display, deftly imparting information with a stylish flourish.
Below noon, an elongated aperture reveals the date. Each numeral is presented in white, save for the number ‘1’ which has been kissed with a gold powder finish. The attention to detail is breathtaking.
The 18-carat rose gold case measures 48.2 x 40.4mm, with a height of 14mm. There is no escaping the fact that this is a sizeable timepiece. While my substantial wrists ably accommodated the Kalpa Chronor, those individuals of diminutive stature may struggle to wear this horological leviathan.
The case hugs the wrist gently and the lugs envelop the arm, inviting the Hermès strap to softly embrace the skin. The case of the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor bestows towering levels of wearer comfort.
Studying the case of this timepiece reveals an obsessive attention to shapes and proportions. The lachrymose lugs exhibit a wonderful sense of grace, arcing elegantly and orchestrating light with their many contours.
While the case lugs are short, their relative length, when compared with the rest of the case, appear optimally sized. There is a pleasing visual balance and harmony which is clear to see.
The dorsal flank of the case is equipped with a pane of sapphire crystal, affording breathtaking views of the calibre PF365.
The movement within the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor, the calibre PF365, took six years to develop and is the ‘world’s first solid-gold, self-winding, integrated chronograph movement’. The use of gold for the calibre PF365 should not be overlooked, it presents huge challenges for the personnel tasked with working with this precious metal. Indeed, gold is incredibly soft, making it very easy to spoil the movement with one absentminded slip of a tool. There are no second chances, absolute concentration must be observed at all times.
As best watchmaking practice dictates, the movement echoes the shape of the case. The automatic movement employs a 22-carat gold oscillating mass, exquisitely adorned with grain d’orge guilloché motif.
The screws feature polished slots and the wheels are circular grained. Mirror polishing is also in evidence. The solid gold bridges feature graining on their upper surface. However, where this movement champions its magnificence is by incorporating 84 internal angles. Each internal angle has to be executed by hand. There are no automated shortcuts to mitigate labour costs. The anglage on the calibre PF 365 is sublime with every 45° bevel gleaming ebulliently.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the movement is blessed with a high frequency of 36,000 VpH (5Hz), conferring impressive precision and allowing the central chronograph seconds hand to display ⅒ of a second intervals. The movement comprises of 348 components including 42 jewels. The power reserve is an impressive 65 hours. The calibre PF365 is a chronometer, independently certified by COSC.
Pressing the chronograph push-pieces confers an incredibly smooth action. The central chronograph seconds hand, once actuated, commences its journey without any hint of annoying tremor. When resetting the chronograph, the central sweep chronograph seconds hand zeroes swiftly, precisely landing on noon, ready and waiting for its next timing mission.
This is not typical of the chronographs I encounter. While I often evaluate wonderful chronographs which deliver an impressive blend of performance and value, I seldom encounter watches of this matchless brilliance.
The dial proffers excellent readability, courtesy of its optimised layout and the aforementioned Delta-shaped hands. However, beyond the functionality of the dial is a stupendous ensemble of impressive elements. The smooth opaline section of the dial provides a wonderful juxtaposition with the richly textured, braid-effect guilloché. The golden snailed counters punctuate the dial with becoming contrast. The golden applied indexes and the aforementioned hands, surpass the routine with their sparkling forms. Everything is beautifully resolved.
The substantial case of the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor cossets the wrist ergonomically. Each constituent part is intelligently proportioned, delivering much eye-appeal in the process. The composition of the case brings together various elements, each uniting in a cohesive entity.
Parmigiani Fleurier possess an impressive range of skills. The movements are made in-house to a no-compromise standard. Beyond its movement facility, the company has a further four production sites making everything from screws, pinions, hairsprings, wheels, cases and dials. The only parts which Parmigiani Fleurier does not make are the rubies and the Hermès straps gracing its products.
It is because of this technical competence that Parmigiani Fleurier is able to deliver a solid-gold movement par excellence. I can think of few other companies capable of surmounting the technical challenges this movement preents. It would appear that Parmigiani Fleurier, the exalted practitioner of high-end watchmaking, decided to complicate things further by suffusing the movement with 84 internal angles. This is not a challenge for the faint-hearted.
Pressing the push-pieces delivers a tactile encounter unlike any other. The movement confers a feel which is truly incredible. The motion of the push-pieces is silky-smooth and stands testament to the quality of the Calibre PF365.
Once again, Parmigiani Fleurier has produced another incredible chronograph. Its brilliance is palpable and its beauty is clear to see.
- Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor
- Case: 18-carat rose gold; dimensions 48.2mm x 40.4mm; height 14mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 3 ATM (30 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; integrated chronograph
- Movement: Calibre PF365; Self-winding movement; frequency 36,000 VpH (5Hz); 32 jewels; power reserve 65 hours
- Strap: Black alligator leather strap supplied on a 18-ct rose golld folding buckle
- Price: £72,500 inc VAT (RRP as at 13.2.2018)