Ovale Collection - A New Line is Born
The launch of an oval-shaped collection is an inspired departure for Parmigiani Fleurier and, like so many others, has its origins in a restoration piece.
The prestigious oval watch with telescopic hands – created by the English jewellers, Vardon and Stedman – is a true marvel of watchmaking, which came into the restoration workshops of the Fleurier-based brand in 1997. This piece really caught the imagination, because of both its enchanting elliptical form and the magic of its complication. Its two telescopic hands follow the contours of the case, extending and shortening with the ellipse, skimming the numerals as if to showcase the time. Thanks to this understated complication, known as the pantograph, the piece seems to have a life of its own which explains to us the mysteries of time.
The new oval line and the mastery of the prestigious pantograph complication represent two of Parmigiani Fleurier's trademark characteristics.
The first is the brand's complete independence, which is ensured by its verticalised production facility. This makes it possible to recreate the components of a genuinely unique grand complication and produce the most original shapes.
The second characteristic is the unbreakable link between Parmigiani Fleurier and restoration. The extraordinary watches produced by our forefathers are a treasure trove of knowledge and expertise, teaching us the importance of fine craftsmanship and representing an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the watches of the present. Just like the oval watch and its modern interpretation, any restoration carried out by Parmigiani Fleurier is an ongoing dialogue between the excellence of the past and the quest for its future watchmaking incarnations.
THE PANTOGRAPH COMPLICATION
The star of the new oval collection is without doubt the Pantograph complication, whose hands perform a subtle dance to the passage of time. The hands are based on the pantograph - the instrument from which they take their name - and use the same principle of multiplying a length by a given factor to obtain movement on a larger or smaller scale.
In concrete mechanical terms, a cam at the centre of the movement determines a certain length which is then replicated X number of times across the entire hand. In other words, the measurement of this central cam provides the information required to move the hand and adjust it as it pursues its course around the dial.
This trajectory and its elongation have been meticulously calculated so that the hands trace a perfect, harmonious ellipse. A computerised simulation also ensures that the minute hand is never retracted as far as the hour hand, which means, for example, that 12:15 cannot be confused with 3 o'clock.
Confounding expectations, the main challenge posed by this extraordinary piece was not the horological complication itself, but rather the cutting and, in particular, assembly of the telescopic hands. Having explored a number of different techniques, the watchmakers at Parmigiani Fleurier opted for state of the art technology to cut the fine segments of titanium from which the hands are made. They employed the latest generation laser cutting techniques, which use water and nitrogen and guarantee accuracy to the nearest 2 to 4 µm. It took a year of testing at the Lausanne institute of technology to achieve the desired accuracy.
This led to the assembly stage, where extreme high-tech equipment gave way to the human hand. In fact, the accuracy of machines, however perfect it may be, can never replace the watchmaker's eye and dexterity in the crucial stages. Riveting the titanium segments also required excellent hearing and sensitivity of touch. As the rivet is struck, the skill is in identifying the moment at which the rivet is deformed, as indicated by a characteristic "tink" which occurs when the material is altered, signalling the end of the operation. Following this, the titanium segments must slide completely freely over each other without the slightest play. The watchmakers must therefore achieve an extremely precise balance at each intersection in the structure to ensure that the piece functions correctly as a whole.
The new oval collection from Parmigiani Fleurier features numerous different models, but all share the same unique elliptical middle part.
Michel Parmigiani and his team conducted extensive research in order to achieve the perfect oval shape in terms of proportional harmony and ergonomics. The main challenge in this quest consisted of bringing a masculine resonance to this curved and rounded piece - traits which are traditionally feminine. The oval collection is also perfectly gender-balanced, thanks to a number of key aesthetic decisions.
Firstly, the choice of the oval. The decision was made to eschew a pure ellipse for a basket-handle arch shape, i.e. an oval which is pulled outwards diagonally for a more masculine look.
The ideal proportions then had to be ascertained between the middle part and the bezel in order to refine the watch's relatively thick profile. To do this, a separating line was sought between the two elements, at a sufficiently defined height to create an impression of elegance and introduce a break in the rounded form.
Finally, the product developed a sharp-edged look through the systematic bevelling of its surfaces. This process is used to produce angles and straighten rounded lines. The resulting play of light creates a keen-edged appearance, lending a masculine air in spite of the curves.
The piece was subject to the same design logic that informed the aesthetic research behind the Bugatti Super Sport. This essentially round piece also had straight lines and angles added to produce a play of light which refines the product and creates a sense of masculine energy.
The design of the oval collection is therefore a delicate balancing act of curves and straight lines – just like the hands of the pantograph – to obtain this magnificent harmony of styles and this self-assured elegance.
THE OVAL COLLECTION
The basic movement used in the Ovale Pantographe is the oldest created by Parmigiani Fleurier: the calibre PF110 was designed for the Hebdomadaire line. With the addition of the retractable hand module, the new movement, known as the PF111, combines a pantograph on a manual movement with a power reserve of 8 days.
The Ovale Pantographe is available with a rose gold or white gold case, but all models have the same dial decorated with a barley grain motif – another subtle alternation of curves and straight lines – giving the piece a relief effect.
The colour blue - highly symbolic in the history of watchmaking - features heavily. The pantograph hands are made from blued titanium, a shade obtained by heating to over 550 degrees Celsius using a difficult process. The indices and numerals are in blued steel, the product of a PVD treatment.
The Ovale Tourbillon combines an ellipse with the famous round cage and its hypnotic oscillation. The PF501 movement, a jewel of Parmigiani Fleurier expertise, is one of the few 30-second tourbillons on the market, rotating twice every minute for increased accuracy.
The essence of elegance, the Ovale Tourbillon is available in rose gold with either a black mother of pearl dial or a white gold dial featuring silvered Côtes de Genève decoration. This exceptional piece is available in a limited edition of 60, featuring 30 of each version.
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