Parmigiani is known for their refreshingly contemporary watches, and that is quite extraordinary for a brand that finds its roots in restoration. Long before Michel Parmigiani founded the brand that bears his name, he was already known as an expert in the field of “Horological Restauration”. It is more often than not also the historic pieces he once restored that serve as a source of inspiration for his modern day collection. The true skill of Parmigiani is that he is not only capable of translating a vintage piece into a contemporary watch but that the essence of the watch stays intact. The old watch and its modern predecessor share the same soul. As trivial as this may sound, this can only be accomplished when one masters all the aspects of watchmaking.
Parmigiani’s newest collection is based on an amazing vintage pocket watch restored by Michel Parmigiani. When you see this pocket watch it immediately becomes clear why Parmigiani couldn’t resist creating an entire collection around it; impressive becomes an understatement.
The pocket watch in question is a piece made around 1800, and is signed by Vardon and Stedmann, Unique about this pocket watch is that it is not only oval, but has telescopic hands. These hands change in length so that the hand always follows the oval shaped case of the watch. A very unique and delicate complication, that should not only demand great respect to the watchmaking capabilities of those who made this pocket watch around 1800, but also for the efforts of Parmigiani to recreate it in a contemporary watch.
The Pantograph complication, as it is called, is very delicate to create. Not only are the hands build up out of several small segments that have to be riveted together, they also need to be aligned with the utmost precision in order to achieve free movement without even the slightest play. To create the small segments that make up the hands, Parmigiani joined forces with the Lausanne Institute of Technology. After exploring many different techniques’ to create, it was the latest generation of laser cutting techniques that was capable of cutting the titanium segments with the desired degree of precision. However, riveting them together is still something that can only be done with a human hand…and ear. It is by the sound when the rivet is truck that one can identify if it is actually deformed.
The lengths of the hands are controlled by a cam inside the movement. This cam will ensure that the motion of the hands follow a perfect ellipse. The movement itself is based on Parmigiani’s very first manufacture movement; caliber PF 110 that was back then created for the Hebdomadaire line. With the Pantographe complication added, it is named caliber PF 111, yet of course it maintained the date-function as well as a very generous 8-day power reserve of its base caliber.
Caliber PF 110 is also available in an oval shaped case, but only as a very special limited edition of ten pieces. For these watches Parmigiani teamed up with well-known graffiti-artist Andre Saraiva, who designed the dial. Inspiration is Saraiva’s creation of “Mister A”, who focusses more on the images of graffiti art rather than the words. “Mister A” himself features on the dial at 12 o’clock, while at 3 and 9 o’clock images based on the “Eye of Horus” are portrayed. Nice contrast is that Parmigiani offers this watch only with a steel case, but that the movement is made out of 18 carat yellow gold.
The oval is a more unusual shape for a watchcase, but it works really well. It offers a larger presence on the wrist, without the bulkiness that usually comes with other case shapes. No wonder that Parmigiani also uses this case shape to house its caliber PF 501 in. Main feature of this watch is of course the 30 second tourbillon, one of the few on the market, that will hypnotize you with its rapid movements. Just as the Pantographe does Parmigiani offer the tourbillon in either a white gold or rose gold case, and always with an alligator strap made by Hermes attached.
For now this is the entire Ovale collection by Parmigiani, but it wouldn’t be surprising as this appealing case shape, along with its unusual complication, rapidly wins the hearts of watch connoisseurs and collectors alike, gently forcing Parmigaini to extend this collection in the near future.