Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe: Lost in a maze of horological excellence
By Angus Davies for Parmigiani Fleurier.
From the first moments of life, we begin to explore. Babies crawl and place numerous objects in their mouthes as they inquisitively appraise all around them.
In life, this learning process never ceases. In our youth, through naivety we pursue paths which ultimately result in dead-ends. Life is a maze.
Through wisdom and experience we hone our intuition, making fewer mistakes and navigating the landscape of life with greater success.
Learning is a dynamic process. It commences at birth and the acquisition of knowledge never ceases until we shed our mortal coil. Taste, smell, vision, sound and touch are the five senses we employ with varying degrees of erudite success.
Michel Parmigiani has clearly shown he has mastered the learning process with the sublime outcomes which bear his name. Mr Parmigiani and his talented team have produced a wonderful ensemble of fine timepieces which populate the highest echelons of haute horology.
One of the latest novelties to bear the Parmigiani Fleurier nomen is the Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe. It is blessed with a handsome aesthetic and looks unlike any other timepiece on the market. However, beneath the beauty of its gorgeous face, there is a profound intellect. The finishing of the movement within this watch is an awe-inspiring spectacle that I have witnessed first hand.
In a special department, in an atelier in Fleurier, the most complicated timepieces are brought to life. They are distilled to perfection with no hint of compromise. It was whilst visiting the company in 2012, that I first became acquainted with the Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe. I was sworn to secrecy and promised not to reveal details of its beautiful form but I knew, once allowed, I would have to convey the splendour of this remarkable watch.
Now that time has come.
This dial ensemble has an incredible three dimensional quality that leads the eyes to explore each facet of its majestic form. A disc of Burmese jade provides the green hue which elicits my covetous cravings. This forms a lower layer of the dial, with an open worked white gold grid sat above. The white gold is intricately machined by CNC before the 52 internal angles are bevelled by hand.This finishing process alone takes 35 hours.
The result is a mouthwatering spectacle which acts as a metaphor for life’s elaborate path.
Hours and minutes are imparted with white gold Javelin-shaped hands lined with Superluminova at the tips, enhancing nocturnal legibility. Subtle applied hour markings convey the hours with a wonderfully restrained tone. They are faceted and repeat the use of white gold to pleasing effect.
Adjacent 3 o’clock, a discreet power reserve indicator resides. It is user-friendly to read, yet does not burden the dial with an inappropriately loud tone.
At 6 o’clock, a subsidiary seconds display resides. It is snailed and features Arabic numerals at “15”, “30”, “45” and “60”.
Parmigiani Fleurier have bestowed this complicated watch, with an alluring appeal, without cluttering the dial with extraneous detail. All aspects work in comely concert.
At first glance, the wearer may perceive that the case is made of white gold, similar to the upper dial section. However, they would be mistaken. Parmigiani Fleurier have used the most noblest of precious metals, platinum.
There is much substance to the case, measuring 46.00mm in diameter, with a height of 13.20 mm. However, I can report that once placed upon my wrist I found it incredibly comfortable. Moreover, the scale and choice of platinum imparts a true sense of value and reinforces the perception of merit.
A slide features on the westerly flank of the caseband, revealing to the informed, that this is a minute repeater. Yet, like many aspects of Parmigiani Fleurier’s work, there is exceptional attention to detail. The company has integrated the movement into the case with an additional fixing point, providing greater stability and purer sound.
Parmigiani Fleurier are made for the cognoscenti. Their customers are well informed and appreciate the subtleties of a finely finished movement. Therefore, it seems befitting that they have fitted a sapphire caseback to this handsome watch, affording a view of the peerless finissage which differentiates this watch from the humdrum.
There is a near fanatical pursuit of perfection within a Parmigiani Fleurier. The artisans, who populate the atelier, must drive their spouses mad with the obsessive optimization of every mechanical aspect.
Take the minute repeater. The brand incorporated a flywheel within the movement. It ensures a constant supply of energy to the spring. This ensures any slight, potential mechanical humming typical of a minute repeater is obviated. There is no superfluous sound which could possibly detract from the melodious chime which aurally imparts the time.
As you admire the movement, enjoy the pleasing fruit of the artisans adroit craftsmanship. The bridges are beautifully bevelled and the quality is conveyed with the blemish free hand drawn interior angles.
Black polishing is the outcome of patient endeavour. Wheels are snailed by sister company Atokalpa, whilst screws are beautifully presented with chamfered slots courtesy of Elwin.
There are few watches to usurp the craftsmanship intrinsic to this handsome timepiece from Parmigiani Fleurier.
In life, we navigate around obstacles, try to avoid hazards and embark on a journey through the maze of life. Few things in life are certain but this is part of the intrigue and interest which heightens the pleasure of our existence.
Indeed, the beauty of surmounting life’s obstacles, embracing the daily labyrinth our lives present is not the final destination we reach but the experience of the journey we had along the way.
As I look at the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe I know there is a true joy conferred with ownership. The exceptional is assured. However, the absolute pleasure of ownership is bestowed by the escape from some of the harsh realities of life, when the wearer can become momentarily lost in a maze of horological excellence.
- Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe
- Case: Platinum; dimensions 46.00 mm; height 13.20 mm; water resistant to 1 bar (10 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; minute repeater; power reserve indicator.
- Movement: PF357, Hand-Wound; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve 72 hours.
- Strap: Hermès alligator leather strap with knurled 18-carat gold ardillon pin buckle.