Three of the most revered complications in Haute Horlogerie – minute repeater, tourbillon and perpetual calendar – are united in this exceptional timepiece, a unique Parmigiani Fleurier piece that retails for just under half a million Swiss Francs. The Tecnica Ombre Noire comes in a 45mm rose gold case with a splendid hand-guilloché dial. The combination of the gleaming rose gold case and the dark handsome dial is stunning, but the watch is not entirely new. In 2014, Parmigiani Fleurier launched a limited edition of five Tecnica Ombre Blanche watches – without the sumptuous guilloché dial. The perpetual calendar functions are neatly arranged in three interconnected sub-dials with a fourth dial devoted to the one-minute tourbillon. But wait a minute, where is the slider to activate the minute repeater? Read on to find out more about this exceptional masterpiece.
From the Toric to the Tecnica
The Toric holds a special place in Michel Parmigiani’s heart; it was his first watch. Unveiled in 1996, the Toric has become a pillar of Parmigiani Fleurier’s highly diversified family of watch collections. If there is one aspect that unites the different families it is Michel Parmigiani’s meticulous attention to case design, ranging from the elegance and serenity of the round Tonda to the elongated lines of the Kalpa, from the Ovale to the extreme dynamism of the Bugatti. The Toric is no exception and has a round harmoniously proportioned case with hallmark gadroons and knurling.
The amount of historical and academic references that inspired the Toric – you can get a feel for its genesis on this interactive page – are typical of a watchmaker whose quest for aesthetic harmony and mechanical perfection have led to some of the finest watches on the market today. Ancient Greece, the Golden Ration and nature are his key sources of inspiration and Michel Parmigiani always starts the design of his watches with the case. Over the past 22 years, the Toric has housed some of the most prestigious horological complications – tourbillon, GMT, chronograph, perpetual calendar, minute repeater with cathedral chimes, wandering hours – as well as simpler three-hand and date models with the Toric Qualité Fleurier and Toric Chronomètre models. Yet, if historically the Tecnica watches were members of the Toric collection, this has changed. Parmigiani wanted to make the Tecnica a collection in its own right by qualifying it as the most prestigious collection of the manufacture, with each watch in the collection being a piece unique.
In the name of harmony and proportion
Similar in dimensions to the Toric Quaestor and Toric Capitole minute repeaters, the Tecnica Ombre Noir weighs in at 45mm with a case thickness of 13mm. The case is made from 18k polished rose gold and features the iconic and beautifully styled teardrop lugs and the crown styled like a truncated Doric column.
However, the case of the Tecnica Ombre Noir is slightly different from other Tecnica models. For one, the knurling on the bezel has been removed and relocated to the edge of the case. And for a very good reason; as you will have noticed, this watch does not feature a pusher on the slider of the case for the minute repeater. Instead, the minute repeater is ingeniously activated at the bezel and the knurled gold edge is designed for better grip.
Rose gold was chosen to optimise the resonance of the minute repeater cathedral chimes. Like other Parmigiani models, the distinctive knurling on the bezel is handmade by a craftsman in the Jura – the same one who has knurled all the Toric bezels since 1997. Perhaps the only element that is outsourced at Parmigiani is the strap, and this pièce unique comes with a smart Hermès black alligator strap with a rose gold pin buckle.
Executed entirely by hand, the grain de riz or ‘rice grain’ guilloché on the dial mimics concentric patterns inspired by the natural world (nautilus shell) and adds an element of texture and dynamism to the composition. Applied rose gold Arabic numerals at 12, 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock, elegant tapered indices, a subtle minute track and the iconic Delta-shaped hands (in honour of Athena’s spear) are all hallmark Parmigiani touches. In addition to the guilloché treatment of the dial compared to the white enamel dial version, the Tecnica Ombre Noir has replaced some of the Arabic numerals on the dial for tapered indices lending the watch a cleaner, less cluttered face.
In the upper part of the dial, three sub-counters relay the perpetual calendar information – month at 9 o’clock with leap year indication, date at 12 o’clock with power reserve indicator, and day of the week at 3 o’clock – while the one-minute tourbillon is placed in an aperture at 6 o’clock. The arrangement of the counters is pleasingly symmetrical and harmonious and extremely easy to consult.
A highly sophisticated in-house hand-wound movement drives the three grand complications of the Tecnica Ombre Noir as well as the power reserve and the hour and minute indications. Measuring 29.9mm in diameter with a thickness of 7.7mm, calibre PH351 has 504 components, beats at a frequency of 3 Hz/ 21,600vph and offers a power reserve of 42 hours. Although we have as yet to admire this beauty in the metal, the finishes are in keeping with the prestigious nature of all Parmigiani’s watches with Côtes de Genève decoration, bevelled bridges and perlage.
Price and limitation
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tecnica Ombre Noir is a unique piece and retails for CHF 490,000. For more information, please visit parmigiani.com.