The Musical Pieces of Parmigiani Fleurier
Illustrating the spirit of music through marquetry work – such was the challenge that Parmigiani Fleurier embarked upon. This year the brand is unveiling three astounding creations. Two Tonda Tourbillon wristwatches and a table clock which dials evoke the world of musical art and represent a new quest for excellence.
Assembling the Tonda Woodrock
In order to project a colourful and musical dynamism, Parmigiani Fleurier has turned for the first time to the refined and delicate art of marquetry. This truly ancient process consists of cutting out and assembling veneers – wooden veneers in this case – on a flat surface in order to create a highly meticulous decoration.
A true mosaic of colours, marquetry brings out the musical character of each of the three pieces and celebrates the Fleurier-based company’s long-standing commitment to modern musical culture.
These three timepieces are an illustration of watchmaking excellence, but also of the boundless creativity of Parmigiani Fleurier. They express a genuine endeavour to promote the ancient and rare work of craftsmen; to ensure that traditional arts and crafts always have their place in the Swiss watchmaking scene.
The inspiration which forms the bedrock of its design comes from Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, known for his frescos of intersecting lines combined with blocks of colour. These gridlines and colour combinations give a musical air to Mondrian's work, suggesting a paradigm where sound and image are interchangeable.
The dial of this clock features the segmentation of surfaces so dear to Mondrian and the same vivid palette of primary colours which have musical overtones. Three instruments compete for space on the dial – a trumpet, a double bass and a piano – but this jazz trio is only partially displayed, like a suggestive hint. Indeed, the instrument is not important, it is only the music that it creates which emerges from this lively fresco.
Parmigiani Fleurier Clock 15 Days Blue Note
|Movement ||:||PF 920|
|Frequency||:||2.5 Hz – 18,000 Vib/h|
|Main plates and bridges||:||With Côtes de Genève, hand-engraved and bevelled|
|FunctIons ||:||Hours, Minute, Seconds |
Power reserve indicator on barrel
|Exterior ||:||Vermeil cabinet |
|Material||:||925 silver plated with 18 ct yellow gold |
|Glass||:||Faceted mineral glass crystals |
|Secret key drawer ||:||On the rear of the base |
Removable logo for key hole at 180°
|Individual number ||:||Engraved on the case-back |
Small dial in wooden marquetry, opaline small seconds counter
Large dial with Côtes de Genève and hand-bevelling
|Hands ||:||Delta-shaped with luminescent coating|
|Keys||:||Double key: |
Large winding key
Small time-setting key made from stainless steel plated with 18 ct yellow gold, fitting inside each other
Tracing of the outline
Marquetry is a process which consists of cutting out and assembling veneers – in this case, wood – on a flat surface to create a highly meticulous decoration. Often trained as cabinetmakers, extremely diligent and accurate in their work, marquetry craftsmen are masters of the numerous highly technical stages of their craft, which starts with a sketch on a piece of paper and finishes with a spectacular mosaic of segments reconstructing the original design.
Cutting along the tracing line
The marquetry craftsman starts his work by tracing the original design, detailing each element using a special tool (a Rotring). This tracing provides the dimensions and contours of each segment of the design and will be the basis for the marquetry work.
Tiny stars of the US flag - Tonda Woodstock
The marquetry craftsman then makes ten or more copies of the tracing printed onto paper, which he will use to cut out each of the different elements of the design.
Cutting out the elements
In preparation for the crucial cutting stage, the marquetry craftsman stacks ten sheets of wood, carefully selected for their colour and surface. He firmly nails them together and sticks on top of this resulting wooden stack, the single tracing of the segment which will busy him. A jigsaw is used for cutting, carefully following the lines of the pattern so as to create ten identical copies of the required segment. Even for a unique watch and single dial, the marquetry craftsman will always work in stacked layers of wood in order to only keep the most successful segment among the ten that are cut. This entire process is repeated for every single element in the design, and with as many different woods and colours as there are shades.
Cutting out the elements
The most difficult part would seem to be over once the last segment has been cut and the craftsman is ready to start assembling. However, this last stage is no less complex and often involves surprises which have escaped measurement. Despite rigourously following the dimensions along the entire pattern, when it comes to assembling the segments, the marquetry craftsman may find a minuscule error or an unpleasant little fissure which renders the entire piece useless. He must then go back to the primal stages and patiently retrace and recut with the required modifications.
Stacks of tainted wood
Marquetry is work which requires perseverance and precision, work where one must be able to envisage the whole even when grappling with its tiniest part. Because marquetry’s reward comes at the end, when each segment is perfectly nestled in its enclave, playing its small part in enlightening the piece as a whole.