Parmigiani Fleurier is on every watch lover’s radar in a big way right now, thanks to an unprecedented exhibition it’s brought to the United States for the first time in history. The collection is the Maurice Sandoz Collection of clocks, watches, and mechanical automata, which was assembled by the son of the founder of Sandoz Laboratories. Maurice Yves Sandoz had a passion for mechanical clocks and watches and automata –miniature mechanical robots –that resulted in his accumulating, over the course of his lifetime, artistic and mechanical wonders created by some of the most brilliant and creative practitioners of the mechanical and decorative arts of his time, including works made by the house of Fabergé for the court of the Russian czars.
One of the most delightful pieces in the collection is an oval pocket watch made in England by Vardon & Stedman of Bond St. some time in the early 19th century. Though the watch is oval in shape, the tips of the hands follow the outline of the dial exactly: they telescope in and out, shortening and expanding as necessary thanks to their unique scissor-like structure. This unusual complication epitomizes the wit, sophistication and creativity of watchmaking in the early 1800s –an era of creativity not unlike that which watchmaking is enjoying today.
It’s in the spirit of both today’s watchmaking renaissance and in homage to the inspiration of the past that Parmigiani Fleurier’s Michel Parmigiani, the brilliant watchmaker and expert restorer of antique clocks and watches, has created the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Oval Watch with Telescoping Hands. A faithful interpretation of the original pocket watch designed and updated for wear on the wrist, the Oval Watch with Telescoping hands duplicates exactly the whimsical cleverness of the original pocket watch. Functional updates to the original design keep it cutting edge, though –instead of the gold used for the original hands the wristwatch homage uses blued titanium, and the watch hands must be assembled by hand to achieve the necessary precision of fit. Inside is Parmigiani Fleurier’s own movement, the new calbre PF 114 which provides the watch with an eight day power reserve (indicated by the power reserve display on the dial) and the owner’s eye with the visual treat of a movement fully decorated by hand. A gold and grand feu (oven fired) enamel dial completes the timepiece.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Oval Watch with Telescoping Hands is available in 18 carat rose or white gold, with an alligator strap by Hermes and a matching 18 carat gold ardillon buckle, for $95,000.
The exhibit Mechanical Wonders: The Sandoz Collection, is on display until November 26th in New York at A La Vieille Russie, the renowned purveyor of rare objets d’art from which Maurice Sandoz obtained many pieces in the collection. For visiting information visit www.alvr.com or call 212-752-1727.
Jack Forster is the Editor in Chief of Revolution Magazine, a quarterly publication celebrating the world of fine watchmaking, and he also manages Revolution Online www.revo-online.com the foremost information and discussion site on the internet for watch enthusiasts.