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Parmigiani Fleurier

James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
David Caruso, Jan/Feb 2007

Michel Parmigiani has been making watches for 30 years. To celebrate the anniversary, Parmigiani is releasing two extraordinary skeletonized watches: the Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire Squelette, which features an intricate manually wound eight-day movement, and the Kalpa XL Tourbillon Chiaroscuro. Only 30 of each are being produced.

Both timepieces feature the distinctive rounded edges of Parmigiani Fleurier's unique rectangular Kalpa case. All the movements are produced in-house at the watchmaker's facilities in Fleurier, Switzerland. The Hebdomadaire (pictured) is made of palladium. The Tourbillon comes in platinum. The former is powered by Parmigiani's own Caliber PF 118, crafted in 18-karat rose gold and openworked, while the latter uses the company's skeletonized manual-winding Caliber 501 movement featuring a rare 30-second tourbillon. All plates and bridges of these movements are engraved, beveled and skeletonized by hand to give them an almost Baroque richness. The dials are transparent sapphire crystal, which enables the wearer to gaze at the intricacy of the movements. The watches are finished off with Hermès alligator leather straps.

The Parmigiani Fleurier brand was not actually launched until 10 years ago. For two decades prior to that, Michel Parmigiani was one of Switzerland's most respected bespoke watchmakers and restorers. His company was called Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps. Museums and private collectors around the world entrusted him with repairing and maintaining their horological treasures from wristwatches to table clocks.

The big break for Parmigiani came in 1996, when one of Switzerland's biggest watch collectors, the Sandoz Family Foundation, became a majority shareholder in his company and launched the first Parmigiani timepiece.

It's these 30 years of evolution in watchmaking that Parmigiani is celebrating with the production of the Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire Squelette and Kalpa XL Tourbillon Chiaroscuro. About four to five of each are expected to be imported to the States, and they cost $87,400 and $236,000, respectively.

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