Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa London Underground--Celebrating An Institution
By Angus Davies for Parmigiani Fleurier
In 2011, a Census took place in the UK and the population of London was recorded at 8.17 million. London is the largest city in Europe. Moreover, with huge numbers of people commuting for work and tourists from around the globe wanting to see the architectural delights of the historic city, London is a buzzing metropolis.
Clearly, with densely populated streets, there is inevitably much strain on the transport infrastructure above ground. It is therefore fortunate that the majority of commuters are able to traverse the city courtesy of the London Underground.
Each day, 3.5 million passenger journeys are made on the London Underground or “Tube” as it has become affectionately known. This transport institution is celebrating a landmark in its history. On the 9th January 2013, the London Underground celebrated 150 years since the first underground journey between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway took place.
Swiss haute horologerie brands, Parmigiani Fleurier, are showcasing two limited edition timepieces in L’Atelier Parmigiani at Mount Street, London. The two watches pay due reverence to the London Underground with a stylised colour depiction of the “Tube” shown on their dials. I recently visited the prestigious store to see these rare models which are unique to the capital city.
The two models are based on the Kalpa Grande and the larger Kalpa XL. Whilst both models are marketed as gents watches, I did think the smaller Grande model suited the wrist of my female host. The pair of timepieces lend themselves to a joint, his and her purchase.
The Kalpa has always displayed perfect proportions, as if Parmigiani Fleurier had sought inspiration from Da Vinci's depiction of Vitruvian man. All aspects of the design seem to work in perfect harmony and pleasing accord. The articulated lugs, a signature design element of the brand from Val-de-Travers, echo the contour of the wrist, leading to elevated wearer comfort as the strap cossets the wearer's arm.
Admiring the dials of both limited edition watches, the black canvas could arguably act as a metaphor for the dark tunnels which form the "Tube". Whilst the colorful depiction of the various "lines" bears a close resemblance to the map of the underground, the truncated presentation would not prove suitable for navigation purposes. To have shown every aspect of the labyrinth of subterranean railways would have over-burdened the dial. The resultant display blends individualism and legibility in equal measure.
The Kalpa Grande features a blue central second's hand, whereas the Grande XL displays seconds on a subdial featuring an elongated aperture that reveals the date. Both models share Delta shaped hands depicted in bright red.
Adorning the right hand flank of the caseband is a crown with crimped profile, enhancing tactile delight and conferring ease of adjustment.
The rear of both models features an exhibition case back. Parmigiani Fleurier are known for their sublime skill at crafting finely finished movements and the limited edition Kalpa Grande and Kalpa XL are no exception when it comes to matchless craftsmanship.
A Montreux Jazz Festival motif seemingly floats above the movement, depicted on the sapphire crystal. The brand has been a proud sponsor of the famous annual festival and has clearly wanted to share this with wearers. These timepieces were initially created for the "Montreux Jazz Café" which has recently opened in Harrods.
On balance, I would have liked to have seen an unhindered view of both manufacture movements, as their beauty should not be obscured but presented in full splendour. Nevertheless, this would be a small criticism of two exceptional ticking pieces of horological art.
There is much merit residing within the cases of timepieces bearing the Parmigiani Fleurier nomen. The movements are produced to an exceptional standard with Cotes de Genève motif featuring on bridges and gorgeous open-worked rotors harnessing winding power from the movement of the wearer's wrist. The haute horlogerie brands from Fleurier are a Manufacture in the truest sense of the word. Indeed, with the exception of rubies, sapphire crystals and luxurious Hermès straps, Parmigiani Fleurier produces all aspects of the watches which bear their name.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa London Underground will no doubt prove appealing to those anglophiles who choose to wear a stylish and well-engineered timepiece. Sadly, numbers will be limited and would-be buyers will need to visit the UK to see these exceptional watches.
Those of inquiring mind may ponder which underground station would prove most suitable for visiting L’Atelier Parmigiani on Mount Street. Bond Street, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner are all within walking distance. However, my favored point to alight the “Tube” is Green Park. Here, pedestrians can negotiate the charming Berkeley Square, with its manicured park, and sate their shopping needs on the dignified destination of Mount Street en-route to the aforementioned horological haven par excellence.