Parmigiani Fleurier's Patrimony : From Ionica to Kalpa
By Peter Chong for Parmigiani Fleurier.
Parmigiani Fleurier's first inhouse developed movement, the caliber PF 110 is one which has fascinated me since its introduction in the Ionica case. The design philosophy is taken from the spirit of the clocks that needed to be rewound once a week, as hebdomadaire is a French word meaning “weekly”. With a power reserve of eight days, the Hebdomadaire is equipped with a Calibre PF 110 form movement, entirely developed in the workshops of the Manufacture run by Parmigiani Fleurier. The movement first made its appearance in the Ionica case in 1999 was later updated in 2002 and the watch is now available as the Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire.
The aesthetics of the Ionica and Kalpa XL are intriguing. Long, sleek, modern. The Ionica has a classical twist in the form of the double coin edged bezel. Some find the double layer bezel to be cumbersome, but for me, the lines are classical and timeless. The redesigned Kalpa XL case is altogether more modern. Sleek with clean lines, with the lugs seemingly organic and sensuous, flowing harmoniously with the curve of one's wrist to sit nicely.
The hands on the Ionica were javelin, which I found to be nice, but had a certain homey feel to it. The revised Kalpa hands are now enlarged arrow heads, which PF calls Delta shaped hands, and carry luminescent coating. Aesthetically, this is more pleasing and soothing to the eye, and in harmony with the sleek case.
The hour markers are a mix of stylised Arabic numerals, dagger and dots. Often using so many different markers would spell disaster, but in the case of the Kalpa, they blend well and add a certain je ne se quoi to the ensemble. The power reserve indicator at 12, the date showing, en passant at an aperture below the small seconds hand at 6 complete the visual impact. Handsome indeed.
The dial is available in a total of 4 colour variants. A further special version of the movement, now called PF 118 is done in white gold and skeletonized.
The movement design is the end all of this beautiful masterpiece. The form movement, following the shape of the case...an elongated rectangle, gently rounded at the sides to produce an elegant case is unusual. Most manufacturers would be tempted to just slide in a generic round case into the case, and indeed many do. Some would go a bit further and put a rectangular movement in the curved, tonneau shaped case. But not Parmigiani.
They took the trouble to completely shape the movement to follow the form of the case. The bridges are particularly beautiful, in that the fingers around the jewels are also cut into shape to follow the curves of the round jewels. This presents inward angles on the bridges – a feature which many watch manufacturers shy away from because it requires many hours of painstaking and skilled labour to finish these angles properly.
The shape of the bridges, especially the way each relates to the other is also beautiful and classical. Each shaped finger of a bridge is echoed by a corresponding shape – exactly tracing its contours such that the gaps between the bridges are constant. This makes the movement look elegant, and pleasing to the eye.
The movement's visual impact as one views the watch from the display caseback is mesmerising. A true masterpiece.
The watch is magnificently finished. The casework is excellent. Not a surprise as Parmigiani owns and operates their own casemaking factory LAB. In addition to supplying inhouse cases to Parmigiani Fleurier, LAB also supplies a long list of prestigious clients which include many of the top names in high end watchmaking.
The case is beautifully polished, the curved surfaces presenting challenges to the casemaker.
The dial is also magnificent. Again, no surprise as this is supplied by another Parmigiani owned manufacturer of high end dials – Quadrance. As with LAB, Quadrance supplies dials to many of the top marques in the industry.
The applique numerals are polished and applied to the dial in great precision. The hands are beautifully polished. If I do have a criticism on this watch, is that I find the javelin hands in the Ionica a bit out of place in design with the overall elegance of the watch, but I certainly cannot doubt the finish and quality. This criticism is neatly solved with the Delta hands used in the Kalpa XL, which is elegant and fits the case redesign.
I already mentioned and stand to repeat that movement is the piece de resistance, the design is truly mesmerising. But that only tells of one tale. The execution and finishing tells the other tale...ne plus ultra – the best of the best.
The anglage is beautifully done by hand...gleaming and catching the light as one gazes into the movement...as if winking at the owner that he has made a good decision to acquire the PF110.
The inward angles are beautifully polished. The angles are sharp – a prerequisite feature in old watchmaking excellence, yet seen less these days of modernization and automation. The sharp angles, each meticulously formed and polished can only be executed by hours of handwork. Each screw is beautifully polished, and sits on its own dicoverture which is also beautifully polished.
The Cotes de Geneve decoration is beautifully executed, creating a visual treat to the massive bridges.
Beautifully executed watch. An icon which will remain a hallmark of fine watchmaking for decades to come. The Ionica is now discontinued. The King is dead, but long live the King. As the legend of the PF 110 now lives in an updated and more modern case now offered as the Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire, available in steel, gold and skeletonized.