Parmi­giani Fleurier adds a Mi­das touch to its new Kalpa watches, writes PIN LEE

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LET’S FACE IT: Parmi­giani Fleurier isn’t your av­er­age Swiss watch com­pany. Be­hind the brand is Michel Parmi­giani, the noted horol­o­gist and re­storer of vin­tage time­pieces as well as other pre­cious me­chan­i­cal ob­jects. In the world of watch­mak­ing, Parmi­giani the man is known as an artist par ex­cel­lence; his watches are re­spected by those in the know and are recog­nised among ex­perts for their dis­tinct de­signs and mech­a­nisms.

In Geneva, the brand launched three new mod­els in gold – Kalpa Chronor, Kal­pa­graphe Chronomètr­e and Kalpa Heb­do­madaire – and out­fit­ted them, for the first time, with ex­clu­sive in-house move­ments that are shaped to per­fectly fit the di­men­sions of the cases.

Some back­ground in­for­ma­tion on the prove­nance of the Kalpa might ex­plain why the new watches have ev­ery­one talk­ing. It all started in 1998 when Michel Parmi­giani cre­ated the first ton­neau-shaped move­ment, the cal­i­bre PF110. He en­cased it in the first Kalpa wrist­watch in 2001, which turned heads be­cause of the un­usual move­ment shape; most oth­ers tended to be round. Also ad­mirable were the move­ment’s im­pres­sive eight-day power re­serve and its ex­cel­lent pre­ci­sion.

Since then, the Kalpa – char­ac­terised by its dis­tinc­tive ton­neau-shaped case, stylised teardrop lugs and delta-shaped hands – has ex­panded to be­come a flag­ship col­lec­tion of the Parmi­giani brand.

The new Kalpa creations beg the ques­tion: “Why gold?” Those who deal with the pre­cious metal know it’s tricky to craft be­cause it’s so mal­leable and de­forms eas­ily. But the answer from Parmi­giani, which ob­vi­ously loves a chal­lenge, is likely “Why not?” In the words of the man him­self: “A gold move­ment in­side a case is like a pre­cious item, jeal­ously guarded in a safe. The im­pen­e­tra­ble in­ner riches of a per­son are a well-hid­den trea­sure, a rare beauty only found by those who know where to look.”

The Kalpa Chronor is one of the two chrono­graph-equipped watches in the col­lec­tion. It’s spe­cial be­cause it’s pow­ered by the world’s first all-gold self-wind­ing in­te­grated chrono­graph move­ment. The COSC-cer­ti­fied cal­i­bre PF365 os­cil­lates at the high fre­quency of 36,000 vi­bra­tions per hour ( 5Hz) to achieve a read­ing ac­cu­racy of one-tenth of a sec­ond.

It took six years of re­search and de­vel­op­ment to cre­ate this ton­neau-shaped move­ment, which now fits com­fort­ably in­side the case and has a power re­serve of 65 hours. The dec­o­ra­tion of the move­ment, re­quir­ing more than 50 hours for each watch, is a ver­i­ta­ble work of art – from the skele­tonised satin-brushed bridges to the lav­ish bar­ley grain guil­loche work on the ro­tor, all of which can be ad­mired through the sap­phire crys­tal case­back.

On the front of the watch, a black bi­par­tite dial, also made of gold, fea­tures an opa­line cen­tre sur­rounded by a tachymeter scale and a hand­worked braid-ef­fect guil­loche mo­tif on its outskirts. The delta-shaped hands are lu­mi­nous and the rose-gold indices are faceted. The dial dis­plays the gold snailed chrono­graph coun­ters, a small sec­onds sub-dial at 6 o’clock and a large, arched date win­dow at 12 o’clock. The dif­fer­ent dec­o­ra­tive mo­tifs on the black dial ef­fec­tively frame and high­light the ac­tion of the chrono­graph func­tions.

The Kalpa Chronor is on the larger side at 48.2mm by 40.4mm, so it’s best suited to those with larger wrists and who want to make the kind of state­ment that’s not af­forded by a round watch. In a limited edi­tion of 50 num­bered pieces, it comes with a black Her­mès al­li­ga­tor strap and a rose gold fold­ing buckle.

The Kal­pa­graphe Chronomètr­e also fea­tures an in-house COSC-cer­ti­fied chrono­graph move­ment: the PF362. It boasts all of the Chronor’s tech­ni­cal fea­tures and the move­ment can be seen through the sap­phire case­back. Cased in 18K rose gold, the watch fea­tures a mul­ti­lay­ered dial with an abyss blue cen­tre, treated with PVD with an opa­line fin­ish; a ra­dial guil­loche-worked flange punc­tu­ated with hand-ap­plied faceted indices; two snailed coun­ters en­closed within a fine gold edg­ing; an an­gled tachymeter scale; a semi-in­stan­ta­neous date win­dow; and a small­sec­onds sec­tor with its own hand. The shape and di­men­sions are the same as the Chronor, but this ver­sion isn’t a limited edi­tion. An Her­mès al­li­ga­tor strap in abyss blue rounds out the sporty yet el­e­gant de­sign.

Round­ing out the trio is the Kalpa Heb­do­madaire. This time­piece holds a very spe­cial place in Parmi­giani’s col­lec­tion be­cause it’s out­fit­ted with a man­ual-wind­ing move­ment – an up­dated ver­sion of the orig­i­nal cal­i­bre PF110, which was the grand-daddy of all of these new bar­rel-shaped move­ments. This watch of­fers eight days of power re­serve and in French, “heb­do­madaire” means “weekly” – an apt moniker for a time­piece that can run for more than a week on a sin­gle wind. Sev­eral next-gen­er­a­tion haute hor­logerie flour­ishes have been added, in­clud­ing Côtes de Genève fin­ish­ing, bev­elled bridges and cir­cu­lar-grain­ing – all of which can be ob­served through the sap­phire case­back.

Rel­a­tively speak­ing, the new Kalpa Heb­do­madaire is a more dis­creet-look­ing watch. The 18K rose gold case is smaller and mea­sures 42.3mm by 32.1mm. The mul­ti­level black dial fea­tures an opa­line-fin­ished cen­tre and a braid-ef­fect guil­loche flange, as well as a small sec­onds counter and a weekly power re­serve scale. Lu­mi­nes­cent delta-shaped hands tell the time. The date dis­play at 12 o’clock in­cludes Parmi­giani’s sig­na­ture bright-red “1” nu­meral. This watch is water-re­sis­tant to 30 me­tres and is mounted on a black Her­mès al­li­ga­tor strap with a rose gold fold­ing buckle.

Clockwise from top left: Tonda Métropoli­taine Gal­axy; Tonda 1950 Gal­axy; Kalpa Chronor; Kal­parisma Nova Gal­axy; Bu­gatti Type 390

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