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Living the high life: Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing 005

Living the high life: Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing 005

01 - 04 - 2013 | 10:17
Published by Escapement (UK)

(c) Exclusively written for Watchuseek by Angus Davies, managing director of ESCAPEMENT.UK.COM

Visiting the Côte d’Azur you immediately become aware of another world. A strip of land which forms the French Riviera provides a magnet to the great and good. Wealth is omnipresent.

My favourite locale, brimming with savoir faire is Cannes. I have enjoyed happy times with my wife voyeuristically observing “the beautiful people”.

Sit on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel and spend hours eating an elegant breakfast of smoked salmon, viennoiserie and Champagne. Observe the ladies, couture clad, as they enchantingly glide along La Croisette on impossibly high Louboutin shoes.

I love people watching. As you stare at the female twenty somethings, you cannot fail to smile at the portly father figure. He is glazed in sugar, proudly fooling himself, “it is love”, as the leggy blonde clings to her walking luncheon voucher.

Sit outside and enjoy al fresco dining at the wonderful Felix restaurant on La Croisette. The cuisine is incredible. But, faithful wives should be aware. There is always a risk of a surgically enhanced femme fatale encircling your husband.

Stroll along the famous boulevard that is, La Croisette, you will see all the famous fashion houses, splendid gems gleaming behind toughened security glass and shoes. I love shoes.

If you really want to see how the other half live, or should that be half percent live? Then walk to the harbour area. Small yachts line Quai Saint-Pierre, but, the really impressive, line adjacent Jetée Albert Edouard. It sits next to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès where once every year, Hollywood hopefuls convene to see which director has won the prestigious Palme d'Or.

There is a rationale to my preamble. As you survey the stylish yachts which line theharbour, you will see a name adorning some of the most alluring forms to float upon thecrystal blue Mediterranean Sea. Pershing is the nomenclature which adorns some of thefinest yachts.

Pershing was formed in 1981 in Italy and creates curvaceous motor yachts which engage the pupils of adoring eyes in spellbinding wonder. Their felicitous forms cheat the sea of resistance, gliding effortlessly across oceans blue.

The Pershing motor yachts range from just over 15 meters in length, to the leviathan, Pershing 115, measuring in excess of 35 meters. They proffer sumptuous aquatic living with palatial accommodation and luxury wherever you look.

However, there is an alternative product which bears the Pershing soubriquet. It is at amore accessible level, but, embodies similar levels of craftsmanship and splendour. Parmigiani Fleurier are the maison based in the Val-de-Travers. Their watches are produced to a peerless standard and adorn some of the most discerning wrists in horological circles.

Like Pershing, they are a relatively young brand formed in 1996. Their ascendancy to the highest levels of haute horology has been rapid. Part of their appeal has been to embrace vertical integration as a means of differentiation.

They have five factories producing all of the components which constitute a timepiece, save for the sapphire crystals and straps. There is minimal input from outside suppliers. Their skill base is highly prized and they make components for several of their competitors. I have witnessed many famous names from the world of horology having components made by the Parmigiani’s sister companies which form the MHF group. However,confidentiality is a pre-requisite within this trade. My reason for mentioning this competence is to emphasise that there are few who can better the craftsmanship of the production facilities which Parmigiani Fleurier has access to.

I recently toured their various production facilities and scribbled notes on various timepieces, I felt merited frenzied digit-tapping of my computer keyboard. One watch which was high on the list was the Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing 005 Steel Blu Metal on a rubber strap.

This particular model appealed to me as it provided a comely contrast to the usual timepieces I favour. It is bold and sporty. However, beneath its considerable exterior dimensions are many examples of distilled craft which justify my interest.

The dial
A pale shade of blue provides a perfect metaphor for a watch inspired by life on the oceanwaves.

The dial is metal, manufactured at Quadrance et Habillage. It has a fascinating aestheticthanks to its complex construction.

Applied Arabic numerals, presented in a neoteric font, indicate the hours at 2, 4, 8 and 10o’clock. Arabic numerals are used once more at noon, but in a bolder, larger and heavier font. The odd numbered hours are marked with arrow shaped, applied batons.

Delta shaped hands indicate the hours and minutes. They are silver coloured with white luminous centers. The hands are modern in appearance and convey hours with wonderful legibility.

A small seconds display is located at 3 o’clock. The markings are applied to the dial.

Two interconnecting sub dials, feature at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock. They are soldered into the main dial and framed with a silver colour border. Black is used to provide visual contrast with the blue dial. There is no obvious expedience to the construction of the dial, it looks labour intensive.

A 12-hour chrono counter is presented on a sub dial at 6 o’clock. It is snailed and simply marked with Arabic numerals and subtle strokes. A date aperture is located within the sub dial. The date is eloquently expressed with clear diction.

At 9 o’clock, a 30-minute chrono counter resides.

The central chrono seconds hand is silver and slim, pointing to the appropriate integer with laser-like accuracy.

The subdials are highly legible and provide ease of interpretation with their chosen huesand design language.

If there is one area of the dial I would criticise it is the the tachymeter scale presented on the inner flange. I struggled to read the text with my ageing eyes and would suggest this would prove more difficult should the watch be used underwater. It is the only area where the readability of the dial is not first class. However, do not misconstrue, there is little to criticise on balance.

There is one aspect I have not mentioned, yet, it is a delicacy to behold. I often wax-lyrical about Côtes de Genève motif on bridges, but this watch actually employs the decoration on the dial. The results are stunningly sublime and confer an interesting character to the watch.

The case
All surfaces of the case are highly polished, reflecting light with a luxurious lustre. The chrono push pieces are rubber coated, softening the appearance. Moreover, the bezel is also satin brushed, affording equilibrium and temperance to the polished surfaces.

The bezel would befit a diver’s watch. However, I would struggle to dive in such a prestigious example of haute horology. It would somehow feel disrespectful. The bezel is one of the finest examples I have seen. Rotate it counter-clockwise and you will immediately be impressed with its peerless tactility. There is no play, no looseness just a positive action which encourages felicitous fondling.

I particularly like the way the sapphire crystal appears to be almost flush with the bezel. The union between the two materials is virtually seamless, almost aerodynamically in the same way as the hull of a Pershing 115.

The rubber strap is adorned with the Pershing no men and neatly joins the case. The clasp is simple to open and close. No jarring actions required. Press the two buttons, one each side of the clasp and the deployant unfurls. An oval-shaped Parmigiani logo spans the two parts of the clasp and is one of the numerous examples which distinguish the watch as something more than a little special.

The case back features an engraving of a Pershing boat and is individually numbered.

I have witnessed incredible finissage at Vaucher and yet this watch has a solid case back. I understand some will say a diver’s watch should have a solid case back, but when Cinderella does your housework, she should be taken to the ball. The calibre PF334 is gorgeous and should not be hidden from view. However, I am sure some will argue with my standpoint.

The movement
The Calibre PF334 is a self-winding movement. The rotor is skeletonised and beautifully engraved with the PF logo.

Côtes de Genève adorns the bridges. The motif is beautifully executed.

This is a fact that was not lost on me as I stared admiringly through a microscope at Vaucher, where the movements are made. Furthermore, the perlage on the main plate is delightful.

There are a few aspects which are worthy of particular praise. Look at the screws, made at Elwin, they are beautifully finished with perfect slots and brilliant polishing. Admire the bridges and you will see pristinely bevelled edges, the fruit of patient skilled craft.

Count the jewels, 68 in total. This is an incredible number for a chronograph. Some may argue it is over-engineering. However, I would argue that Parmigiani have sought perfection with this movement. The profusion of jewelled bearings, lubricating polished pivots, mitigates wear and reduces energy consumption.

The attention to detail is sublime.

The conclusion
It is seldom you find a watch which is perfect and I don’t pretend that this watch achievesthis highest of accolades. However, it comes pretty close.

I wish the tachymeter scale was a little easier to read and I’m saddened that the beauty of the movement is reserved for the watchmaker’s eyes alone. But, on balance, there is a lotto like.

This is an incredibly well-made watch. It does not shortchange the purchaser with cheaper componentry hidden from view. If you visit Elwin, Atokalpa, Vaucher Manufacture, Quadrance et Habillage or Les Artisans Boîtier you will sense a paradigm which spans all five factories. They care about quality with a religious zeal. I doubt they know the word“compromise”.

I would gladly own a Pershing 005 and can think of few other sports watches which can surpass its tactility or usurp its magnificent dial.

The one thing I won’t forget after touring the various production facilities which form MHF group is the craftsmanship practised by the various employees involved in the creation of these remarkable watches.

I have a profound respect for a Parmigiani owner. They understand haute horology. A Parmigiani owner does not succumb to mere branding, following the masses like Lemmings sometimes fooled into accepting mediocrity. They can perceive the exemplary craftsmanship exampled by the team of artisans who work in the Val-de-Travers.

I admire the graceful yachts bearing the Pershing name. They are intrinsically glamorous and bestow beauty from every angle. When much of the high life on Côte d’Azur has a superficiality and shallow virtue, there is quality and craftsmanship behind the beguiling looks.

However, it is the watches that carry the Pershing name which occupy a special place in my heart. They have an honesty, of which I will never tire, and represent the ultimate expression of the high life to this self-confessed admirer of haute horology.

Technical specification

Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Pershing 005 Steel Blu Metal on strap
Model reference: PFC528-0010500-X01402
Case: Stainless case; diameter 45 mm; height 14.20 mm; water resistant to 20 bar (200metres); sapphire crystal to the front and solid case back.
Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; chronograph
Movement: PF334; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 68 jewels; 50hours power reserve.
Strap: Black rubber strap on deployant buckle

Parmigiani Fleurier - Swiss Watches Par Excellence


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