What a way to end the year and celebrate a 20th anniversary! Our favourite Parmigiani Fleurier model, the classic Tonda, has been dipped in stars and brought back to Earth for all to admire in the stunning Tonda 1950 Set Galaxy watch.
The intense midnight-blue dial looks like it has been sliced straight out of a clear night sky dotted with twinkling stars. To achieve this effect, the dial makers at Parmigiani have used aventurine glass. Discovered by an 18th-century glass blower in Murano when he accidentally dropped a sliver of copper into molten glass, aventurine glass gets its unmistakable sparkle from the copper particles. Framed by a halo of twinkling diamonds on the bezel, a white opal from the Milky Way has been set in the crown for the final galactic touch.
Having a sliver of meteorite on your watch is literally like wearing a slice of outer space on your wrist. The dials of Parmigiani’s new Tonda 1950 Météorite models are made from a fragment of meteorite that crashed to Earth in Sweden, richly decorated with natural striations that occur when the fireball cools after its bumpy ride through the atmosphere. The case and bezel of the three models are made from titanium and, combined with the ultra-thin movement inside the case, conspire to create a piece of extraordinary lightness, leanness and mystery.
These new watches are just the finishing touches to a prolific 20th year of activity at Parmigiani Fleurier, which celebrated this milestone with its first in-house integrated chronograph watch and two solid gold movements.
The birth of a horological star
For many watch aficionados, 1996 marks the year that a horological star was born and a dream was finally materialised when watchmaker and restorer Michel Parmigiani created his own brand with the backing of the Sandoz Family Foundation. Although Parmigiani Fleurier might not be the most bandied about name in non-watchmaking circles, this niche brand is highly respected and produces complicated and extraordinarily beautiful watches that are unlike anything else on the market.
As a perfectionist with tremendous knowledge about mechanical complications, Michel Parmigiani’s vision was ambitious and the early stages of the brand, marked by a strictly artisanal approach to watchmaking, have evolved over the last 20 years into a fully integrated manufacture where every single watch component is made at Parmigiani’s manufacture in Fleurier, with the exception of the leather straps, which are sourced from Hermès.
An in-house integrated chronograph is the pinnacle of achievement
With 33 movements under its belt and accomplishments like the world’s thinnest flying tourbillon with the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon of 1950, Parmigiani decided to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the launch of its first in-house integrated chronograph watch. The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, below, is proof positive of the impressive degree of technical dominion and the brand’s absolute independence from third party suppliers.
The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire is unlike most chronograph movements that settle for a chronograph module placed on top of a base movement. At Parmigiani the goal was to conquer a watchmaker’s Everest by integrating the manual-winding chronograph movement, the split second and a large date function all on the same main plate. Upping the ante to underline the importance of the anniversary, the movement was made in gold and can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback.
A heart of gold for the Kalpa
The Kalpa watch, with its commanding and distinctive tonneau-shaped case, was in fact Parmigiani Fleurier’s first wristwatch – the foundation stone, if you like, of the fledgling company that made its debut on the market in 1999. Marking its two-decade milestone, it was only natural to shine the light on a new, one-off Kalpa Hebdomadaire Anniversaire model decked out in a stainless steel case with a solid gold movement inside.
As Michel Parmigiani explains: “A gold movement inside a steel 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.” If you happen to be the lucky owner of this unique piece, you can admire the richly adorned bridges of the solid gold eight-day movement on the reverse of the case, which is decorated with a dragon-wing pattern.
Even the Kalpa women’s models have been dressed up for the anniversary celebrations and both the Kalpa Donna and the Kalpa Piccola, below, are equipped with the brand’s first all-gold quartz movement housed inside a stainless steel case gleaming with a mother-of-pearl dial and diamonds.