Parmigiani Fleurier Introduces The New La Rosa Celeste Minute Repeater
Parmigiani Fleurier unveiled one of its most highbrow projects in 2021 to mark its 25th anniversary. La Rose Carrée was a pocket watch based on a century-old grand sonnerie caliber from Louis-Elysée Piguet. This unique piece then led the brand to create the five-piece Les Roses Carrées “Collection Grand Feu”. Earlier this month, on founder Michel Parmigiani’s birthday, the Swiss brand launched La Rosa Celeste, the first wristwatch in this top-end collection. The unique minute repeater is a piece of métiers d’art featuring Grand Feu enameling in the founder’s favorite blue color.
At the very top echelon of watchmaking, the creation of a timepiece transforms into a painstaking, passion-driven artistic craft. What we are looking at here is a perfect example of this. La Rosa Celeste exists to embody ancestral watchmaking and artistic heritage while evoking emotions. It is a bit like a museum piece that flaunts the independent house’s pinnacle of craftsmanship, but it is so exclusive that the model is not even on Parmigiani’s website.
Interestingly, by complete coincidence, I just covered another Grand Feu minute repeater by Breguet here last week. When I stumbled upon it, I had no idea that Parmigiani had released its La Rosa Celeste. It would be natural to draw a comparison as the latter also comes in a 42mm 18K white gold case featuring a blue Grand Feu enamel dial. Furthermore, it also houses a manual-winding caliber with a minute repeater. However, even if one were to use that as a baseline, La Rosa Celeste would still be on a lofty artistic scale.
Les mains d’or
This unique piece is the result of a creative approach that was known in the old days as les mains d’or — “the golden hands.” Parmigiani brings together a team of master craftspeople for each project, guided by Michel Parmigiani’s vision. It fuses unique expertise and dexterity from a restorer, a designer, a case maker, a beveler, an engraver, a dial maker, a chain maker, and a master enameler into a creation.
The square rose motif
La Rosa Celeste carries all the hallmarks of Parmigiani’s La Rose Carrée (“The Square Rose”) pocket watch. Its case is carved from blocks of white gold and is 13.39mm tall, including a hunter case back. The case back cover, bezel, lugs, and case band are meticulously decorated with the square rose motif. This signature motif is a fractal pattern based on the Fibonacci sequence, which is the basis for the Golden Ratio. This mathematical concept is what creates a sense of proportion and beauty in nature. The Golden Ratio has also been famously adopted by Michel Parmigiani into the guiding principles of the brand’s designs.
The square rose motif is engraved by hand with a chisel into the surfaces of the precious metal, one petal after the other in an algorithmic pattern. The extreme precision and patience demanded without the slightest margin for error is the work of a master. The dial, which is made of solid white gold, is also chiseled with countless immaculate small carvings. This painstaking craftwork offers the dial a unique grainy visual texture. To achieve the desired aesthetic, Parmigiani then treats the dial and back cover to six layers of Grand Feu enamel.
Grand Feu enamel
Parmigiani employs the Grand Feu technique by first covering each gold part with enamel from crushed glass. With each layer, the glass is ground finer, pigmented with metallic oxides, and applied to the base by hand. The component then goes into a firing process at 800°C to melt and glaze the enamel each time. It is incredibly technical to do this for each layer without ruining the previously glazed ones. Crucially, the temperature, duration, materials, and pigments all have to be precise.
La Rosa Celeste’s dial follows the minimalist design principles of Parmigiani’s Tonda PF line. Apart from the PF logo medallion, it features only two skeletonized hands and indexes in rhodium-plated 18K white gold. Yet, behind this clean dial is one of the noblest complications. Based on a rare historical pocket watch caliber that Michel Parmigiani found in his archives, the PF355 is a hand-wound minute repeater with cathedral gongs in a continuous chiming sequence.
This highly complicated 392-part mechanism with 35 jewels is on full display when you turn over the watch and open the hunter case back. The movement has undergone extensive skeletonization with extreme aesthetic refinement. According to Parmigiani, the shapes of the open-worked bridges, the curves and counter-curves, the depth of the chamfers, and the 114 inward and outward angles are all an artistic execution. Parmigiani leaves nothing to chance, and the more surface areas there are to create and expose, the more laborious manual work they require to finish them nicely. Judging from the elaborate graining and beveling that we see, the PF355 is a spectacular showcase in itself.
As for the performance of La Rosa Celeste, Parmigiani ensures it lives up to its pedigree. The minute repeater chimes the hours, quarters, and minutes on demand, automatically skipping the pauses between each indication (dead time). The device beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) and offers an impressive power reserve of 72 hours. Surrounding the suspended movement are the gongs for the repeater, which attach to the inside of the white gold case with two screws each. Parmigiani has also designed the case back and case middle to create resonance pockets, resulting in longer sound vibrations for a richer acoustic quality and range.
A grand masterpiece
This unique piece is signed with “Rosa Celeste”, the “PF” seal, and Michel Parmigiani’s signature on the interior of the hinged back cover. The serial number is engraved on the case back itself. In this execution, La Rosa Celeste styles perfectly with a blue hand-sewn alligator leather strap. This exceptional masterpiece has a recommended retail price of CHF 600,000.
While this model is not on Parmigiani’s website at the time of writing, you can go to the Exceptional Pieces section to see the La Rose Carrée pocket watch and other métiers d’art creations.
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