Parmigiani Fleurier introduced an entirely new collection; the Ovale collection. With the introduction of three oval shaped watches, the collection takes a firm shape. Besides the Ovale Tourbillon and a 10-piece limited edition for a Parisian artist called Andre, the real star of the show is probably the Ovale Pantograph. An oval shaped timepiece with telescopic hands that follow the contours of the dial and case.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s newest creation was actually inspired by an old pocket watch. Something that might come as a surprise, is that the Fleurier-based brand has one of the most impressive restoration workshops in Switzerland. In 1997 the prestigious oval watch with telescopic hands – created by the English jewellers, Vardon and Stedman – came into the restoration workshops. Two years ago Parmigiani already created two pièce unique for the Mechanical Wonders exhibition, similar to the new Pantograph (see here at Watchonista), and the demand for more resulted in the new Ovale collection.
Its two telescopic hands follow the contours of the case, extending and shortening with the ellipse. This understated complication is known as the pantograph, and its hands seem to have a life of their own.
How does it work?
A cam at the centre of the movement determines a certain length which is then replicated X number of times across the entire hand. The exact dimensions of this central cam provides the information required to move the hand and adjust it as it pursues its course around the dial. When calculating the exact dimensions, they had to take into account that the minute hand could never be shorter than the hour hand.
For a part it can be compared to how a pantograph functions. And now we’re referring to a mechanical device to duplicate a drawing. You can find more info about that kind of pantograph on Wikipedia.
The main challenge was the assembly of the telescopic hands. Having explored a number of different techniques, the watchmakers at Parmigiani Fleurier chose to cut the fine segments of titanium from which the hands are made. It took a year of testing at the Lausanne institute of technology to achieve the desired accuracy!
The assembly of the hands was another huge challenge. No matter how precise machines can be, this job could only be done by hand. Riveting the titanium segments requires good hearing and a sensitive touch. As the rivet is struck, the skill is in identifying the moment at which the rivet is deformed, as indicated by a characteristic “tink” which occurs when the material is altered, signaling the end of the operation. Following this, the titanium segments must slide completely freely over each other without the slightest play. This requires an extremely precise balance at each intersection in the structure, to ensure that the piece functions correctly as a whole.
The titanium hands of the pantograph are blued by heating to over 550 degrees Celsius. The indices and numerals are in blued steel, which is the product of a PVD treatment. Now on to the movement…
The basic movement used in the Ovale Pantographe is the oldest created by Parmigiani Fleurier: the calibre PF110 was designed for the Hebdomadaire line. With the addition of the retractable hand module, the new movement, known as the PF111, combines a pantograph on a manual movement with a power reserve of 8 days.
The movement is finished to the very highest level, featuring hand made Côte de Genève and hand-beveled and polished edges on all bridges. This is by the way a perfect example of a movement that simply cannot be finished by a machine. It is impossible for machines to angle and polish the round shapes, and especially the narrow spaces, of caliber PF110’s bridges.
The Ovale Pantograph comes in either rose gold or white gold, in the characteristic oval shaped case. Parmigiani Fleurier is enjoys complete independence, because of the fully vertical production facility; they have everything “in-house”. This makes it possible to recreate the components of a genuinely unique grand complication and produce the most original shapes, like the hands, the new oval case and even down to the dial. The dial is actually decorated with a barley grain motif.
Creating the perfect oval is for instance, is not so simple as it might seem. Michel Parmigiani and his team conducted extensive research in order to achieve the perfect oval shape in terms of proportional harmony and ergonomics. The main challenge in this quest consisted of bringing a masculine resonance to this curved and rounded piece – traits which are traditionally feminine. The oval collection is now perfectly gender-balanced.
To end this report we share a photo from our Watchonista friends, who were present at the product launch.