Dr. Edwina Davies reviews the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire Steel, a watch which is testament to the dedication of the brand to achieving the highest standards and an exemplar of superb craftsmanship and design.
Fleurier in the Canton of Neuchatel has a history of watch making dating back to the mid seventeenth century. It produced exquisite time pieces for Eastern markets and almost had a monopoly in meeting the demands of the Chinese market. A watch making school was established in 1851. In 1872, 23% of the population were engaged in watch making and in 1890 there were about thirty watch companies.
Its devotion to watch making continues.
In 2004 the Fleurier Quality Foundation set its own standards and criteria which must be fully met to achieve certification. Four companies, Chopard, Parmigiani Fleurier, Bovet Fleurier and the Vaucher manufacture came together to determine those standards, focussing on the aesthetics and technical requirements demanded for certification. Four areas were the focus: Chronometry, durability, the quality of the finish and the precision of any movement.
Born in 1950 in Couvet, in the Val de Travers, Switzerland, Michel Parmigiani was imbued with the watch making tradition of the area. He trained in watch making and became engaged in restoration work. That devotion to the past shaped his creations. For him restoration was a pleasure. There is a restoration workshop at Parmigiani so that the past still feeds the creativity of design for contemporary pieces and the skills and craftsmanship are practised and perfected.
Honouring the past has not meant being buried in it. Skills are nurtured and new challenges met.
In September 1990 Michel Parmigiani founded his company Mesure et Art du Temps.
In 1996 The Sandoz Family Foundation became major shareholders in the company and the first Parmigiani Fleurier collecton was launched. They are dedicated to the support of Swiss expertise and businesses. This afforded security, investment in modern machinery and facilitated brand development so that in a short time frame this relative new name in haute horology has gained international renown, carries with pride the Fleurier Hallmark and goes forward with confidence whist still showing respect for the past.
The Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire
Here is a watch which is testament to the dedication of the brand to achieving the highest standards, an exemplar of superb craftsmanship and design.
The Kalpa is the form which symbolises the company’s success with its tonneau shape, smooth curves and refined touches that catch the eye but do not over-awe. It is handcrafted, the finish subtle and wonderfully effected. There is perfection in its crafting.
The silvered finish of the whole case and dial is harmonious. The sapphire crystal face is anti reflective and follows the contours of the case. The hand applied silver numerals are discreet, subtle, appearing only at 12, 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock.
At the apex is the fan shaped recessed dial which presents the power reserve indicator. Strong black lettering stands out and the simple “B” above left and “H” above right , Bas and Haut, to emphasise the level of reserve.
Below, delicately set in oval frame is the company name.
The central dial which gives the hours and minutes, marks them with simple dots, those for the hours a little larger than the minute’s and allows the applied numbers and strokes at the outer limits of the dial to be subtle because they carry the message of time quite strongly.
The small seconds dial is set just below the centre at 6 o’clock and again black dots mark each second. Because they are within a smaller face they seem to have greater impact than those denoting the hours. In addition the seconds are also denoted by simple black numerals which are the same in form as those used in the power reserve indicator so there is a unity. Set within the small seconds dial is the aperture for the date. Bold numerals denote the date but only the odd dates; the even ones are again denoted by a simple dot.
In contrast the passage of days is indicated by a red pointer which replaces the 30 second marker, a small splash of colour.
The other distinctive features which catch the eye are the blued hands, the principle ones, delta shaped.
I love the contrast between the smooth finish of the hours and minutes dial and the delicate sun guilloché which surrounds it. Nothing jars, all compliments, there is a quiet subtlety, no discordant element.
With its smooth curves the tonneau case has clean well proportioned lines. It is as the name indicates of steel, polished, and with the Characteristic Kalpa horns which gracefully align with the case.
In dimensions it is 53.0 x 37.2 mm.
The reverse bears the watch’s individual number. It has a sapphire crystal back which allows viewing of the movement.
The simple grooved bezel bears the Pf logo.
The movement is created in-house, by the highly skilled Parmigiani master watchmakers. It features a hand winding movement. The company has devoted much time in developing its own movements, the brand currently has 17 movements designed and produced entirely in-house .
It has 28 jewels, is hand-finished, the bridges hand-chamfered and has a double spring barrel. The swan neck regulator has Côtes de Genève decoration.
The company set out to create a 7-days movement but created one which has 8-days.
In addition to its 8-days power reserve, the watch is resistant to 30 metres and has a Hermes alligator strap with a polished, folding clasp.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.