With a brand as historically savvy as Parmigiani Fleurier, learning that its latest one-off is a tourbillon should be no surprise. What is an indicator of the age in which we live is that this breathtaking creation is also a woman’s watch, reinforcing the industry’s insistence that women are now as hungry for haute horlogerie as male customers, and that a vast gem count ain’t enough.
Not that gender has anything to do with tourbillons, nor is Parmigiani as obsessed with this feature as are some others. Like Patek Philippe, Richard Mille and high-end manufacturers who do actively produce extreme women’s models (some of which, amusingly, make male customers envious), the Kalpa Tourbillon Galaxy simply exemplifies the modern attitude toward haute horlogerie for discerning, distaff clients, with no apologies for either its technical complexity nor its staggering appearance.
Parmigiani’s Kalpa family – one of its four lines – is an already-comprehensive range of watches, from time-only pieces to chronographs. It champions Michel Parmigiani’s take on the classic tonneau shape, unlike the round Toric and Tonda lines, while Bugatti marches to a completely different beat. As with Franck Muller’s and Richard Mille’s variants on the tonneau form, Parmigiani’s is instantly recognisable because of its lug structure and proportions.
What the company has added to the Kalpa’s tourbillon-equipped model is a dial that is heart-stoppingly dazzling and, at the same time, as discreet as if it were merely a standard model.
Like any work of art, it begs repeated examination. First, the watch itself: this hand-wound timepiece contains a 30-second tourbillon, a Parmigiani specialty, which obviously completes its rotation at twice the speed of a one-minute tourbillon, and which, therefore, defines greater precision. Because the tourbillon cannot double as a seconds-hand as in a one-minute tourbillon, the Kalpa has a sweep seconds hand.
Adding to the horological desirability are double barrels mounted in series, providing the watch with a power reserve of one week, as noted on the uncluttered dial. Yes, “uncluttered”: despite the power-reserve indicator, three hands from the center and a tourbillon in an aperture that fills the lower half of the dial, this is a super-clean design. Flip it over, and the view is as spectacular as you’d expect of Parmigiani, with hand-bevelled bridges and finishing that is without peer.
But this unique version is about the dial. To dress up this already-impressive piece, Parmigiani has created a dial in aventurine, that miracle of glass-making created by accident in Murano in the 19th century, speckled to suggest a star-studded sky. The “stars” are the result of copper dust in the glass, Parmigiani having produced other special editions using aventurine and dubbing them “Galaxy”.
As if more were needed, this inherently special piece has its rose-gold case pavéd with 215 baguette-cut diamonds totaling 11.8 carats on the mid-section and lugs. Completing this magnificent item is a strap from Hermès in blue alligator leather. Sometimes, indeed, the sky’s the limit.
Manual-wind PF500 with 30-second tourbillon; 7-day power reserve
44.7×37.2mm rose gold; tonneau-shaped
Indigo-blue alligator-leather strap made by Hermès