Traditional Japanese art comes in numerous, highly specialised forms, but artisans often go back to the same few familiar motifs in creating their pieces. Koi fish, sakura flowers, geisha, red-crowned cranes, and the beloved pine tree are just some evergreen examples. And the artisans can hardly be blamed, for these motifs don’t merely symbolize Japan-ness; being so naturally beautiful, people from all cultures and nationalities can easily appreciate the artwork they inspire. For this reason, Parmigiani Fleurier has chosen to turn to the Land of the Rising Sun for ideas to create the two latest unique pieces in its Toric Quaestor line.
The first piece features a scene dominated by the branches of a great pine tree, which is a symbol of power, vitality, and immortality in Japanese culture. It is also said to bring good luck, which is why some people keep pine bonsai plants at home or in places of business. Parmigiani Fleurier chose solid yellow gold as the material with which to carve out the individual pine needles, as well as the accompanying tree branches. Hand-applied onto the Atrina deep black mother-of-pearl dial, the needles have been arranged at random and varying heights to create depth, while the branches have been given a printed patination treatment in order to give the appearance of natural erosion.
Increasing the color contrast between the black mother-of-pearl and the golden artwork are flecks of 24K yellow gold set into the recesses of the dial. This auspicious masterpiece cased in pink gold took 70 hours to complete, and so that they don’t disturb the Zen tranquillity of the dial, the brand logo and the Swiss Made indication have been printed in white on the reverse of the crystal. It is paired with an Hermès leather strap, and a crown set with a ruby cabochon.
From the mighty pine, Parmigiani Fleurier moved on to the dry, level landscapes of Japanese rock gardens, often simply called Zen gardens. This style of landscaping involves carefully arranged rock formations, water features, mosses, pruned trees and bushes, as well as gravel rivers, which are beds of sand or gravel that have been raked to represent ripples in water. Accordingly, Parmigiani Fleurier crafted a solid gold dial with swirls and whorls reminiscent of gravel rivers. These lines have been engraved and hammered by hand at varying depths, and the artisan paid special attention to the position of each ripple against the next. The distances between them have to be perfectly clear yet fine and subtle – thankfully, the Swiss share the same devotion to precision and meticulousness as the Japanese.
Now, while the dials of these watches reflect pure Zen serenity, their movements show the exact opposite. Turn them over to look through their sapphire case backs and discover the labyrinthine architecture of Parmigiani Fleurier’s in-house Calibre PF355. Proffering a minute repeater complication, its mechanism is exactly as complicated as it looks. Unlike typical striking watches, the Toric Quaestor has a flywheel in place of a traditional pallet fork, thus ensuring complete mechanical silence when the mechanism is chiming. In addition, the choice of gold as the case material isn’t purely aesthetic or coincidence; the manufacture believes that gold yields the best sound for the cathedral gongs of the Toric Quaestor.
Zen on the outside but complex on the inside, the Toric Quaestor Grove and Toric Quaestor Ripple aren’t the kind of watches one may see every day, which is why Parmigiani Fleurier intends them only for the most deserving of buyers.
- Dimensions: 46mm
- Functions: Hours, minutes, minute repeater
- Power Reserve: 72 hours
- Movement: Manual-winding Calibre PF355 with skeleton minute repeater or Calibre PF349 with minute repeater featuring cathedral gongs
- Material: Rose gold or white gold
- Water resistance: 10 meters
- Strap: Black or Havana Hermès alligator leather with rose or white gold ardillon buckle
This article was first published in WOW.