Midnight Hour: Making The Case For Parmigiani Fleurier’s Kalpagraphe Noir
This sporty Kalpa features the brand’s signature flash with an enduring and understated finish.
Last November, Parmigiani Fleurier added two distinct new timepieces to its tonneau-cased Kalpa collection. And we can’t stop thinking about them.
We wouldn’t go as far saying Parmigiani Fleurier is a niche brand. However, with founder Michael Parmigiani’s roots in restoration, and its high horology design codes, it certainly has a type when it comes to collectors: folks who like a bit of flash for their cash.
It is why we can’t stop thinking about the new Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC models. On paper, these two updated timepieces may not seem dramatically different from previous versions, but sometimes it just takes a few subtle changes to radically rejuvenate a collection.
We knew these two Kalpagraphe models were kind of a big deal for the manufacture. So, Watchonista sat down with Parmigiani CEO Davide Traxler back in October when they were introduced.
The history of horology is a big part of the Parmigiani story, but one also has to remember that the company is, at its core, a 21st-century brand, having been founded only in 1996.
If Parmigiani Fleurier was a person, it would be a millennial. Their watchmakers have been quick to embrace not just technological advancements but also the most modern manufacturing techniques.
According to Davide Traxler, the intersection of tradition and innovation is what makes the Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC particularly exciting. “It’s us because it is us,” he said. “It's our cases. The sapphire dial is held by a gold cage. And it's made in our dial production in Quadrance.”
“We've changed nothing of the original piece except for the coating on the dial,” added Traxler. “The result is something that, we feel, is a nice expression of who we are.”
But that expression is more than giving the previous model a matte black makeover. It also speaks of changing moods in the collector market.
Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon (ADLC) is a luxurious coating that is more resistant to dings and scratches than standard DLC and is said to even resist small insults like fingerprints. The frosted steel finish is visually pleasing and tactile. This matte finish plus a rubber bracelet gives the watch a sportier appearance.
At the same time, wearing a luxury sports watch has taken on a different meaning in contemporary society. You can wear the Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC to a casual cocktail event, or you can pair it with a tux. The fashion rules are changing, and Parmigiani recognizes this, embraces it, and pushes the new style rules even further.
Plus, the bracelet smells amazing, like vanilla. It’s inviting, not stiff or formal.
While the Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC technologically is fashion-forward, it’s also important for Parmigiani to honor its roots in historic watchmaking.
Parmigiani may be a modern manufacture, but according to Davide Traxler, the company’s goals are to make high-end watches that stand the test of time. “We have to keep to the fact that everything has to be restorable,” said Traxler. “For example, ceramic is not restorable because you have to replace it completely. ADLC is restorable.”
Although it was made clear during our discussion that, as a brand, Parmigiani believes all elements of a watch's construction need to be restorable in 100 years, the CEO stressed that durability does not trump tradition. Take, for example, the in-house PF334 Automatic movement that powers these chronographs. “We are not going down the road of Silicium,” said Traxler. “We're not going down the road of parts that can't be decorated traditionally.” This caliber features fine finishes as Côtes de Genève circular graining, beveled bridges, and circular graining on the plate. Even the 18k solid gold oscillating weight is embellished with Grain d'Orge guilloché.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are two new versions of the new Kalpa Noir. The first is the Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC grey sapphire featuring a frosted black steel case, steel dial accents and pushers, a gray sapphire gray dial, and a black rubber strap. The least expensive of the new Kalpas, it retails for $15,800.
The second new Kalpa Noir is the Kalpagraphe Steel ADLC rose gold sapphire. These pieces feature a glossy black steel case, rose gold dial accents and pushers, a gray sapphire gray dial, and a black rubber strap. They retail for $17,600.
There are also two new models in the ladies Kalpas collection, the Kalpaghraphe Blanc. Both feature a white sapphire dial, rose gold case and accents, and white rubber strap; however, for those willing to shell out $46,000, you can opt for a diamond-encrusted rose gold case instead. The Kalpa Blancs are visually stunning as well, but its evolution is not quite as dramatically subtle as its black ADLC counterparts. Each version is limited to just 99 pieces.
Finally, all of the new timepieces provide a view of the mainplate's circular graining through their sapphire dials. This creates a deep, almost holographic layering effect that catches the eye. You could look at the face forever and still discover new things about this timepiece.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)