Grand Complication watches are an art that only a few manufactures can achieve. They represent the highest level of watchmaking: watches that combine the most technical and precise complications. Parmigiani Fleurier is one of these very exclusive players, and they have already showed us some highly elaborate timepieces, such as the Toric Resonance 3 and the Bugatti Super Sport. Their new model, the Tecnica Ombre Blanche, combines a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater in a single watch.
When first looking at this Parmigiani Fleurier Tecnica Ombre Blanche, you’ll notice immediately the tourbillon and the perpetual calendar. But not the minute repeater mechanism. Usually, a striking complication is activated by a slider on the case band. In the Tecnica Ombre Blanche, the case is free of buttons, pushers or sliders – except the crown of course. The minute repeater is wound by rotating a knurled ring under the bezel a quarter turn clockwise – an elegant choice that allows a clean design of the case. However, this mechanism is complex in terms of water resistance, as the surface to be protected is significantly larger compared to a traditional band slider.
The minute repeater here is achieved with “cathedral chimes.” In a normal minute repeater, the gongs cover around 1.5 times the perimeter of the movement. When they exceed that length, they are called “cathedral gongs,” meaning that they are going around the movement two times, creating two sets of gongs, for two very distinctive tones and a richer and louder sound. It also means that the work of the watchmaker, in order to adjust them to the desired tone, is way more difficult. As ith every minute repeater, it will of course ring the hours, quarter-hours and minutes.
The movement is finished with an exclusive guilloche pattern, made of thousands of parallel ribbed lines and all the bevelled angles are polished by hand.
The dial side of the Tecnica Ombre Blanche revealed two other complications: a one-minute tourbillon and a perpetual calendar, displayed in 3 sub-dials – one at 12 for the date, one at 3 for the days and one at 9 for the months. The leap year is indicated by a window in the months sub-dial. Inside the date sub-dial also sits a power-reserve indicator (the watch boasts 42h of power reserve when fully wound).
The dial of this new Parmigiani Fleurier is made of champlevé white enamel. “This process consists of engraving a gold base by creating a hollow which corresponds to the dial area. The enamel is then applied to this bas-relief with a paintbrush and the whole piece is exposed to very high temperatures so that the vitreous enamel melts and fuses. Several layers of enamel are successively applied, then fired, until the hollow is filled.” This technique allows to have a contrast between the white enamel and the gold rims around the sub-dials (rims which are not applied but part of the dial’s gold base).
The highly technical movement comes in a robust 45mm case in 18K pink gold, and is surprisingly thin for such a degree of complication, at only 13mm height. As usual with Parmigiani Fleurier, the strap is supplied by Hermès and offers a very high quality. The Tecnica Ombre Blanche is a limited edition of 5 pieces and price is on request.
More info on Parmigiani Fleurier official.