Kalpa – a Parmigiani Fleurier Signature Collection
Before we arrive at Kalpa, some history. In October last year we took a deep dive into the world of watch brand Parmigiani Fleurier. Which I believe was best surmised by the subtitle of our feature, “If you speak to any watch expert and mention the words ‘Parmigiani Fleurier’ – you’re instantly met with glowing praise.” I later spent a month Living With A Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Métrographe Watch. After a short trip to Bugatti HQ in Molsheim, north-eastern France where I got my hands on a Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 390 Watch. Previous experiences of Parmigiani Fleurier have mostly been whilst passing through Geneva airport. Those watch adverts by the walking conveyor belts. All featuring prestigious watch houses’ latest creations. Often dominated by Parmigiani Fleurier. It’s hard to not appreciate its timepieces, visually at least. They are creations of beauty. More difficult to ascertain is the story behind Parmigiani Fleurier.
- Worn by: Chris Beastall, Editor at Ape to Gentleman
- Photography: Toby Clark of Red on Blonde Photography
- Location: Derbyshire, UK
Briefly, and within the watch world; Parmigiani Fleurier is exceptionally well regarded. And led by Michel Parmigiani, a world renowned mechanical clock and watch restorer along with the financial assistance of the Sandoz Family Foundation. The brand instantly makes sense. A legend of the intricacies of horology partnered with a wealthy former-pharmaceutical endowed foundation. How easy. Throw money at a watch expert and combine with a marketing team. This is true of some watch brands, and in part of Parmigiani Fleurier. However, your opinion swiftly changes after a even the briefest of meetings with Michel Parmigiani. It’s clear to me that the money doesn’t matter to him. And the same can almost be said of the entire organisation. The focus is firmly on creating exceptional timepieces. While the brand is some what ‘under the radar’ save for those billboards at Geneva airport. It’s a brand that has it all. Quality, in-house manufacture, design, comfort, reliability. The list is endless, and contains everything good you’d expect from a high-end watch house. And best of all, they aren’t wildly known – a connoisseurs choice. As confirmed by my opening quote.
“If you speak to any watch expert and mention the words ‘Parmigiani Fleurier’ – you’re instantly met with glowing praise.”
The New Kalpa Collection
Parmigiani Fleurier’s latest addition to its impressive portfolio is the new Kalpa collection. The Kalpa line has been part of Parmigiani Fleurier since its creation in 2001. And while the latest versions tip their hats to their predecessors the old-classic has been carefully reinterpreted into a new-classic. Hallmark features include a tonneau case (a four-cornered barrel shaped case, the word tonneau is French for barrel), tear drop lugs and an understated dial with Delta-shaped hands. The result is optimal ergonomics, proportions and readability. Powered by new manufacturer calibres. Distinctive calibres for distinctively shaped watches.
An icon of the brand, Michel Parmigiani’s Kalpa collection boasts an obsessive level of harmony and proportionality based on the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence. The original Kalpa featured the PF110 calibre. A tonneau shaped movement with, at the time, a rare eight-day power reserve. The Kalpa case was designed in part to accommodate this movement. With a spherical cap shape and attractive teardrop shaped lug integration to match the golden ratio logarithmic spiral.
“The inspiration comes from nature, from its proportions and from the natural curves that provide the ingredients for creativity.” – Michel Parmigiani
Chris Beastall, Editor at Ape to Gentleman wearing the Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpagraphe Chronometre
The success of the original Kalpa naturally, over time, led to this rebirth. And the new Kalpa collection features shaped movements integrated with the outlines of that tonneau case. A technical and aesthetic choice. Each of the watches include new tonneau movements, manufactured entirely in-house; PF365 (solid gold), PF362 and PF110. Two have automatic movements with and integrated chronograph. And the third is a hand-wound calibre with an eight-day power reserve, modelled on its original predecessor. All three are COSC-certified.
Kalpa In Detail
The one thing I’ve learnt working with Parmigiani Fleurier is an overriding set of keywords by which they adhere. Balance, comfort and readability. A simple enough formula, on the surface of it. Take the tonneau case for instance. Known for its ergonomic design, it sits extremely comfortably on the wrist. In detail though, the intricacies are more complex. We see tighter, more contemporary lines and a slight concavity – which add character and dynamism. The short and tear dropped lugs have also had a new rule run over them – resized and realigned. For a perfect fit with the case. While the crown has been enlarged, and the tonneau opening more visible – especially at the back where more of the movement can be viewed.
Balance and readability are the keywords for the display – for an understated and refined aesthetic. Elegance and clarity with surfaces and finishes alternating between guilloché, snailing and opaline, accented with hand-applied faceted indices. Delta-shaped are a new addition to the latest Kalpa collection, resized and with a luminescent coating. Parmigiani Fleurier also decided to move the date window away from the small second display to the top of the dial, for better readability. The date window is rounded and shows three numbers, of which the one has either a bright red or a gold powder finish depending on the model, to mark the start of each month. The new Kalpa collection really does encompass the identity of Parmigiani Fleurier – master watchmaking ability with horological architectural skill and future proofing each timepiece with a nod to the golden ratios seen everywhere in nature.
The Kalpa Collection
The three models within the new Kalpa collection include the Kalpa Chronor, Kalpagraphe Chronometre and Kalpa Hebdomadaire. We spent a week with the Kalpagraphe Chronometre – a chronograph adorned with an 18 ct rose gold case teeing up a stunning deep Abyss blue face. It is powered by the new PF362, COSC-certified, self-winding integrated chronograph movement. Hour, minute, small second and chronograph functions work alongside a tachymeter scale and date display, with a 65-hour power reserve. As with all Parmigiani Fleurier creations, the watch is entirely developed and manufactured in-house over a period of six years. The PF362 calibre operates at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour (5 Hz) and boasts an accuracy of one tenth of a second.
Hands on with the Kalpagraphe Chronometre
Back to that stunning 18 ct gold tonneau case though. Hand polished and measuring 48.2 x 40.4 mm it is water-resistant to 30 metres and houses a clear sapphire case-back to reveal a stunning finish and 22 ct gold oscillating weight alongside a barley grain guilloché motif. Equally handsome is the display, the dial finished with an Abyss blue PCD treated centre, and opaline finish. A radial guillioché-worked flange punctated with hand-applied faceted indices, two snailed counters – all enclosed with a find gold edging. Other features include an angled tachymeter scale, semi-luminescent Delta-shaped hands, rounded date indicator and Hermés alligator strap in Abyss blue with a matching rose fold folding buckle. It’s a work of art, and sit proudly on the wrist.
Kalpa Chronor and Kalpa Hebdomadaire
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Hebdomadaire
While we didn’t get our hands on the Kalpa Chronor and Kalpa Hebdomadaire, we can report a few key facts. The Kalpa Chronor is powered by a world first PF365 chronograph movement in sold gold, self-wound is boasts a 65 hour power reserve. An 18 ct rose gold tonneau case masterfully contrasts with the black dial and white numerals. All secured by a black Hermés alligator strap. It’s engraved with an individual number, a one of fifty – ‘Edition Limitee XX/50’. While the Kalpa Hebdomadaire, with its PF1110 manually wound movement, boasts 8 days power reserve. Again, housed in an 18 ct rose gold tonneau case we see hours and minute functions backed up with a small seconds at 6 o’clock on the black opaline finished dial. Secured by a Hermés black alligator strap with rose fold folding buckle.
Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Chronor
Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand we have come to learn about and subsequently love here at Ape to Gentleman. As before, the brand has been relatively under the radar compared with its competitors. But by sticking to its principles of quality, in-house manufacture, design, comfort and reliability. The brand has earned a growing fan-base, more media coverage and crucially a loyal customer-base. Not by spending millions of Euros on marketing but by producing genuinely stunning watches. You might call it word-of-mouth. And the new Kalpa collection is a nod to this entire philosophy. A tweaked update of an already classic collection of timepieces. Just look at them, they are truly stunning pieces of horological engineering.
Visit parmigiani.com for more information on the Kalpa Collection.