Parmigiani releases a new watch with a traditional Chinese Calendar – the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
New: Parmigiani Tonda PF Xiali Calendar
The new Parmigiani Tonda PF Xiali Calendar Ref: PFH982-1022301-100182 has a retail price of SGD 98,770 / CHF 59,000.
The Chinese Calendar is not the usual calendar used in watches. The more standard calendar is the perpetual calendar mechanism which is based on the Gregorian calendar system. This is a complex system, but the Chinese calendar is more complicated in that it combines the solar and lunar calendar in one mechanism. The calculations needed for both are different, so the mechanism is calculated separately, but is synchronised in the movement.
Parmigiani is known for its ability to culturally adapt their calendar system. In 2019, they released the Muslim Hijri calendar incorporated in their watches. And with the commercial viability of the Chinese market, this novelty uses the relative novelty of the Chinese calendar as an effective differentiator. And we seem to remember a Parmigiani watch with a Hebrew calendar from circa 2000, but could not find any information on that.
Though Parmigiani claims this is a world premiere, we have seen a similar mechanism in the Blancpain Chinese New Year watch of 2018, the Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel of 2020, and more recently in the Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar Year of the Rabbit. Japanese independent Masahiro Kikuno have used the ancient Japanese system in his Wadokei Temporal Hour.
The dial is necessarily complex, and Parmigiani issued this handy guide to reading the dial:
The movement is extremely complicated, and comprise of 353 components. We expect the level of finishing to be at a very high standard, befitting of a Parmigiani Fleurier.
The Chinese Calendar is complex, as it combines elements of both a solar and a lunar calendar, which are calculated separately and then synchronized. This is accomplished by the addition of an extra lunar or intercalary month. This 13th month, which allows the two cycles to coincide, occurs approximately every three years. Finally, the Chinese calendar divides the solar year into 24 solar terms, or breaths, which symbolize the agricultural calendar.
The New Year appears according to precise rules and takes the name of the month that precedes it. The calculation is complex but allows us to follow the seasons and to set the Chinese New Year at the arrival of spring, which varies between the end of January and the end of February in our calendar — between January 21 and February 19.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which names the months and numbers the years, the Chinese calendar names the lunar years and numbers the months. The names of the years are repeated on a 60-year (sexagesimal) cycle, but the calendar including dates, days and months is calculated on the basis of astronomical observations and varies. Because these calculations vary, it is impossible to make a “perpetual” Chinese calendar. However, Parmigiani Fleurier’s creation goes as far as it is possible to go in creating the most complete, and most precise, Chinese calendar in the form of a timepiece. The numbering system of the time units is based on the combination of a decimal cycle, the ten Celestial Stems, and a duodecimal cycle, the twelve Earthly Branches.
The 10 Celestial Stems serve the function of assigning elements to seasons and the planets — water, wood, metal, fire, and earth. The 12 Earthly Branches correspond to the signs of the zodiac: each is represented by an animal, which designates the years of the sexagesimal cycle and will influence the destiny and character of human beings born in that year.
Multiple Elements and Complex Information
Parmigiani Fleurier has succeeded in condensing all of this complex information on a dial: hours and minutes; the display of the month and its numbering; an additional month when applicable (i.e., every three years); short month (29 days) or long month (30 days); solar terms as corresponding to 24 divisions of 15° of the sun’s path along the ecliptic (the sun’s trajectory as seen from the earth); pointer and name of the year; indication of the animal and the elements with alternating colors, whether Yin or Yang; numbering of the days and moon-phases. All the information and adjustments are made quickly thanks to the various correctors located on both sides of the case middle.
The watch conceals an extremely sophisticated mechanism in the new movement, Calibre PF008, which allows for the display of this information in the classical Chinese characters. As the Chinese calendar is not cyclical, the complication is mechanically programmed and covers a period of 12 years via a cam system. At the end of these twelve years, the watch must be reset for a new equivalent period. During this period, all information remains accurate without any intervention necessary, as long as the watch does not stop. If the watch is stopped, you can make corrections simply by changing the day and month number with a rapid corrector that facilitates adjustments over long periods.
This is not Parmigiani Fleurier’s first success in replicating the poetic and distinctive calendar complications whose elements have long inspired Michel Parmigiani to reach for new horological heights. First came the Gregorian Annual Calendar, followed in 2019 by the Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar, or Muslim calendar, a feat of miniaturization that was awarded the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in the Innovation category in 2020. The Chinese Calendar, which succeeds these previous masterpieces, allows the House to offer an exceptional calendar trilogy.
An imperial purity
In addition to extending the calendar theme so dear to Parmigiani Fleurier, the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar also reinforces the sartorial codes of the Tonda PF collection. The entire development and design process of this timepiece was a balancing act. Complication does not necessarily mean complexity. The challenge of creating such a calendar has been pushed to the very last detail while ensuring that the codes of the Tonda PF collection are respected. The multi-level dial, with rhodium-plated 18ct white gold appliqués and skeletonized hour and minute hands, is executed in Imperial Red with a “barley grain” guilloché pattern enhancing its surface.
The stainless steel case has a knurled bezel in 950 platinum, while the integrated bracelet, in the same material, promises comfort and elegance on the wrist. As is customary at Parmigiani Fleurier, the caseback is open to reveal the movement and its decorations through a sapphire crystal. The Côtes de Genève finish and skeletonized oscillating weight in 18-carat pink gold bring lightness and openness to this exceptional calibre.
All that remains is to prepare for January 22, 2023, the Year of the Rabbit, which marks the Chinese New Year!
Parmigiani Tonda PF Xiali Calendar Technical Specifications
Functions: Complete Chinese Calendar and precision moon phase.
PF008 – COMPLETE CHINESE CALENDAR, MOON PHASE INDICATOR
Power reserve: 54 hours
Frequency: 28,800 Vph (4 Hz)
No. of components: 353
Diameter: 32.6 mm
Thickness: 6.9 mm
Decoration: Côtes de Genève, beveled bridges Oscillating weight: 22ct rose gold¸ skeletonized, polished and sandblasted
Polished and satin-finished stainless steel with platinum 950 knurled bezel
Diameter: 42 mm Thickness: 12.2 mm Crown: Ø 6 mm, screwed-in
Glass: ARunic anti-reflective sapphire Case back: sapphire glass
Engraving on case back: serial number – “PARMIGIANI FLEURIER” Water resistance: 100 m
Color: Imperial Red Finishing: Grain d’Orge guilloché Indices: 18ct gold rhodium-plated appliques Moon phase: blue aventurine
Hours and minutes: 18ct gold rhodium-plated skeleton delta-shaped Seconds and calendar: rhodium-plated steel
Polished and satin-finished stainless steel Closure: stainless steel folding clasp