- Dimensions: 42.3 x 32.1 x 11.7mm
- Material: 18ct Rose Gold
- Water Resistance: 30m
- Movement: Cal. PF110, Date, Power Reserve
- Strap: Hermès Leather, 18ct Rose Gold Clasp
- Price: $34,800
The Kalpa Hebdomadaire immediately felt upmarket. There’s no doubt. Once I got past the gold, I couldn’t wait to get the dial under a loupe for a closer inspection. Rolex suddenly blurred to bland. The distinct difference between a statement timepiece versus a tool timepiece was evident. The Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpa Hebdomadaire felt closer to an F.P. Journe or an H. Moser & Cie. in craftsmanship. Adios Rolex, Omega, and Breitling.
Parmigiani Fleurier is designing luxury watches for a specific targeted demographic. Stainless steel sports luxury watches are for people like me, the middle class, to aspire to own one (or more). Watches such as the Kalpa Hebdomadaire are designed to accessorize the attire of the upper class, the 1%. The notion of spending $34,800 on a luxury timepiece must be put into a clearer perspective. To be in the one percent of earners, it requires a minimum HHI (household income) threshold of $538k per year (United States). The (bottom of the) one percent’s $35k watch purchase is the equivalent of the middle-class, with an annual HHI of $100k buying a Tudor Black Bay. To go one step further, a billionaire, dropping $35,000 on a watch is like middle-classers buying socks.
I’m not in the one percent. But I know those who are. What I have learned about those that have reached and/or maintained that financial level is that they operate on their own rules. Along with that comes their own opinions and choices. The one percent isn’t going to play waiting list games at authorized dealers. They will simply spend their disposable income someplace else. From the outside looking in, the world of the one percent may seem eccentric. Parmigiani Fleurier has found a niche, offering luxury timepieces for those that want to stand out, even in the aforementioned crowd. The Kalpa Hebdomadaire masterfully serves that example.
The Dial Details
Thank you Parmigiani Fleurier for the appropriately sized branding on the dial. As Walt Odets recently stated on Beyond The Dial: Podcast E67, “(modern) Patek has become so vulgar”. This statement was predicated on Patek Philippe increasing the size of its logo on the modern dials. Parmigiani Fleurier’s logo allows the viewer to maintain their focus on the watchmaking and not brand hype.
The real scoop on the Kalpa Hebdomadaire’s dial is the guilloché treatment around the exterior. Parmigiani Fleurier accentuates the guilloché paterns in the corners near the indices. The attention to detail to pull off this difficult and beautiful process separates the Kalpa Hebdomadaire from tool watches. The Kalpa is a work of art.
One of the mainstays of good design is knowing when not to overdo it. To bring equilibrium to the guilloché engraving treatment, Parmigiani Fleurier kept the center of the dial smooth. To further the poise of the Kalpa Hebdomadaire dial, the positioning of the subdial seconds balances the date window and power reserve indicator.
The PF110 Movement
Patek Philippe has been criticized for decades for essentially placing a shim between the caliber 215 PS and the case of the Calatrava. At this price point, the expectation is for the movement to fill the case but to follow fit its shape if not round. The caliber PF110 movement fills the tonneau case shape. This is achieved by the shape movement’s bottom plate shape. To make the caliber PF110’s dimensions functional, the balance and barrel have to be relocated. Thus the gear train will need to be reconfigured as well.
The Côtes de Genève (Geneva striping) on the bridges is beautiful. The uniform swirling made by the bit while lapping the meal was a treat to look at under a loupe. The hand-winding caliber PF110 is on full display without a pesky rotor obstructing the view.
Kalpa is loosely translated to “a long period of time”. Hebdomadaire is French for “weekly”. As in, you will need to hand wind this once a week thanks to the Kalpa Hebdomadaire’s eight-day power reserve. Michel Parmigiani must love The Beatles because I thought that a week consisted of seven days, not eight.
The in-house caliber PF110 is not COSC-certified. The PF110 also lacks a hacking feature. I don’t think that Parmigiani Fleurier cares and neither do their clients. The Kalpa Hebdomadaire is an artistic statement timepiece, not a dive watch. If chronometer certification is your bit, Parmigiani offers the Kalpa Chronor with the COSC-certified caliber PF365.
The Hermès Strap
If the Hermès leather strap is the icing on the cake, the 18ct gold butterfly deployant clasp is the cherry on top. There is leather and then there’s Hermès leather. The soft yet supple makes Hermès leather stand out. Hermès leather watch straps cost $400-525 al carte. The black alligator Hermès leather found on the Kalpa is 20mm at the clasp and gently tapers down to 19mm as the clasp.
The 18ct rose gold butterfly folding deployant is excellent and it should be for the $34,800 price tag. I don’t usually care for leather straps on watches, but I will gladly make an exception for Parmigiani. The folding clasp adds to a considerably more solid wearing experience versus a tang-style pin buckle. The 18ct rose gold clasp also provides extra weight to balance the Kalpa during the natural wrist movements of daily wear.
The Rose Gold Case
It is heavy, as 18ct gold should be. The dimensions of the Kalpa Hebdomadaire are large when compared to a Cartier Tank. It should be. The Kalpa is a statement timepiece. However, I didn’t find the Kalpa to wear, or more importantly feel, no larger than my assortment of modern Swiss sports watches. A 49.3mm lug to lug on the Kalpa worked for my 6.75” wrist. Features like the 6mm crown and lug shape downplayed any oversized watch/skinny wrist insecurities.
The feature of the Kalpa case that surprised me was how well the horned lugs were designed. Traditional horned lugs are a mid-century trend that I’ve never been keen on. Parmigiani Fleurier was able to give them the squared maxi-treatment without being gaudy. These lugs are found throughout the entire Kalpa line. Parmigiani modernized the Kalpa case for me in a way that felt like a natural progression of a classic design.
I initially brushed aside the Kalpa design as just another watch. The more I studied the tonneau-shaped case of the Parmigiani Kalpa, the more I appreciated it. The genuine significance in Parmigiani’s design is the way that the lugs, case shape, and sapphire crystal all complement each other. This allows for the Kalpa wearing experience to melt into the wrist in a way that would get a nod from Louis Cartier.