As Time Goes By

With its reimagined Kalpa collection, Parmigiani Fleurier introduces a new generation of collectors to an old standby of Hollywood’s leading men: the tonneau-shaped dress watch.

It is rarely absent from any list of the greatest films ever made, but Casablanca seems to possess few of the qualities considered mandatory in any modern production. The budget was minimal, the sets sparse. There is physical violence and passion, yet the quantities of both can seem sub-theraputic to any viewer raised on the bikinis-and-explosions style known—in its most enthusiastic excesses—as “Bay-hem” after the director who perfected it.

What, then, is the secret of Casablanca’s enduring appeal? Only this: glamour, in its purest form. We see it in the peerless, refined beauty of Ingrid Bergman, in a Morocco rendered alternately as unspeakably vital and irredeemably louche. Most of all, we see it in the world-weary Arctic cool of Humphrey Bogart’s idealist turned restaurateur, the man who “stuck his neck out for nobody”—until, that is, the right (or wrong, depending on your viewpoint) somebody walked into his gin joint. Not a gentleman in the traditional sense of the term, he nonetheless is to the manor born in shawl collars, Burberry coat, and carelessly tilted fedora. On his wrist, a tonneau-shaped wristwatch with no pretense of sport or military use, and an unashamed focus on form over function.

The stunning Kalpa Qualité Fleurier, part of Parmigiani’s latest collection.

Our decidedly glamour-free current era, in which volume serves in place of virtue everywhere from Hollywood to Instagram, has been decidedly unkind to the dress watch in general, and the tonneau-shaped dress watch in particular. If there are any expatriate-owned bars placed daringly at the crossroads of violently-contested war zones nowadays, their owners are probably wearing chunky dive watches or aviation-themed behemoths. Not to say there isn’t a market for a watch that remixes Hollywood glamour with haute horlogerie; it simply means that any potential player in that market will have to clear a higher bar than the ones that guard entrances elsewhere.

Enter Parmigiani Fleurier, a Swiss outfit that finds itself in dire need of an unmet challenge. No stranger to the timekeeping equivalent of Bay-hem—the most outlandish watchmakers often source components from Parmigiani’s five distinct factories and workshops—the company, and its founder, Michel Parmigiani, are equally versed in the rarer art of the non-sporting men’s watch. Having accomplished everything from a sub-four-millimeter self-winding tourbillon to pantograph-articulation hands, Mr. Parmigiani has set his sights on something at once simple and murderously difficult: re-engineering the tonneau for modern wear.

Two decades after the debut of his first shaped movement, the award-winning PF110, we have the new Kalpa collection. It consists of four pieces: the Hebdomadaire, the Qualité Fleurier, the Chronor, and the Chronomètre. Each casts a tonneau shadow befitting Bogart and his contemporaries, introducing the subtle felicities of a curved rectilinear case to a generation rarely exposed to anything beyond the dull, heavy pressure of the bathysphere-thick diver.

The Kalpa Chronor, which uses the world’s first solid gold integrated self-winding chronograph movement.

“I set out,” says Mr. Parmigiani, “with the ambition to create a watch that was comfortable and ergonomic for all wrists… I wanted to create a piece whose dimensions were as universal as possible. I was also keen that the watch should be felt comfortably when the opposite hand was placed on the wrist… You can hardly feel the watch, yet it’s most certainly there!”

To that end, there is hardly a straight line to be found on the timepiece, with the lugs emerging almost organically as ovalized protrusions at each corner, and bending to follow the contours of a human wrist. As a result, the Kalpa makes a notable amount of contact with the wearer’s body. All the better to lighten the weight from cases rendered in precious rose and red gold. For the flagship Kalpa Chronor, mass does increase, albeit courtesy of the world’s first solid-gold integrated self-winding chronograph movement. As with each of the four Kalpa models, the caliber itself mimics the shape and proportions of the enclosing case. Here, Mr. Parmigiani does not mince words: “When you consider the horological masterpieces of the past, you never find any discordance between a movement and its case.”

Manual-wind enthusiasts and long-term fans of the brand will adore the radical Hebdomadaire, with its power-reserve indicator occupying a sort of alcove above an oval inset dial. Meanwhile, the Qualité Fleurier offers a self-winding mechanism and the collection’s subtle visual presentation, its time-and-date-only dial and Hermès alligator strap a lesson in striking restraint. Both are sized at approximately 42 x 32 mm, while the Chronomètre is larger, at 48 x 40 mm. The latter is perhaps at once the most conventional-looking piece in the lineup and the most handsome. It nestles a 36,000 vph column-wheel chronograph movement (code name PF362) behind a deep sapphire-blue face, with luminescent hands and a three-numeral date indicator. The modest water-resistance rating of 30 meters, a deliberate choice by Mr. Parmigiani, is sure to bring smiles to the faces of cognoscenti, as will the heavily engraved 22-karat rotor, shining brilliantly through the sapphire backing.

Transparent backing on the Kalpa Chronor, showcasing Parmigiani’s solid gold PF365 movement.

Parmigiani Fleurier is venerated as being a complete manufacture, among the few to spring from the imagination of a single man in recent times. So the introduction of four mechanically diverse watches at the same time amounts to nothing less than a tour de forceparticularly given the intense challenges involved in creating a solid-gold movement to modern standards of durability and accuracy. At the same time, an extremely limited scope of production (the Chronor is limited to 50 pieces, and the entire Kalpa remains statistically nonexistent when considered against traditional, mainstream luxury watchmakers) will restrict the possibility of ownership to those customers who possess the nontrivial quantities of both liquidity and perspicacity. The man in the street might scoff at the lack of a rotating bezel or crown guard. But those who know—will know.

In a perfectly romantic world, these four Kalpa models would easily and naturally make their way to the ones who know, to adorn their wrists as they pursue affairs of the heart or participate in matters of international intrigue. But progress must be recognized. Keeping pace in the era of liquid-crystal afflictions, Parmigiani has also created a KALPA smartphone application, which promises an immersive, augmented-reality retail experience. The prospective buyer can “unlock the mysteries” of the new pieces by scanning photographs that appear on the Parmigiani website. It’s a neat trick, but if you can manage it, try meeting the collection in person. Because if the new Kalpa watches disappear from boutiques and you haven’t tried one, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

A Head for Heights

Finding a new vantage point with Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition.

I grew up obsessed with the Alps. When I was a kid, my family spent six weeks every summer in the Austrian farming village where my father was raised, so that he could work the fields with his siblings. On weekends, he and I would climb the surrounding mountains; from their craggy summits, my father would point out the famous peaks just over the border in Switzerland, their blue-white glaciers shimmering under the summer sun. On the flights back to Boston, we would press our faces to the window as the big Swiss Air DC-10 climbed out of Zurich, and he’d tick off the mountains stitched across the horizon: Matterhorn, Eiger, Jungfrau, Mont Blanc. I’d sit there, in the orange-colored economy seat, ears popping, spindly legs unspooled, wishing we never had to leave.

Some three decades years later, I finally got my wish. When my wife was offered a job in Switzerland, it suggested all the makings of a grand adventure: trading Manhattan for mountains, smog for snow, congested city streets for the opportunity to raise our newborn son in the same rugged region his grandfather loved. I practically accepted the position on my wife’s behalf. We now live in a small city whose cobblestoned streets and half-timbered homes seem ripped from the pages of a Brothers Grimm fable. In a quirky twist of fate, which could feel commonplace only in a country like Switzerland, our new residence is above a watch store.

Or, more precisely, behind a watch store. Like a wardrobe to Narnia, the stairwell to our apartment is accessed by—and here, I’m not exaggerating—a secret door behind a display window. Everytime we come home, we pass by expensive and intricate timepieces.

This has not been lost on my wife. She’s taken to saying that I should “invest in a nice watch,” frowning at my cheap, utilitarian Timex as we push our baby boy in his stroller through our front door.

“We live in Switzerland now,” she’ll add with a laugh. “You write for a watch magazine!”

So you can imagine her pleasure when Montblanc’s new 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition arrived in the mail before the holiday season. It’s a gorgeous piece, and a historic one, as it pays homage to the 160th anniversary of the brand’s iconic Minerva watches. Known for their robust and precise movements, many of those pieces from the 1920s and 1930s were built for mountaineering, when the sport’s popularity was exploding across the Alps.

With its handsome, 42 mm case (stainless steel or, for this special-edition version, bronze) and weathered, calfskin bund strap (made small-batch at Montblanc’s leather goods atelier in Florence), the new Geosphere feels as elegant as it is ergonomic, and built for exploration. But it’s the worldtime complication—powered by the super-smooth, ever-reliable MB 29.25 automatic movement—that sets this watch apart. Two turning, domed hemispheres make 24-hour rotations (one clockwise, the other counterclockwise), bringing the world’s time zones to life with an effortless movement. It seems to both broaden and compress our globe—a comforting feature when the rest of your family lives an ocean away.

The twin globes are also marked by seven red dots, denoting the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents. It’s a subtle design touch dedicated to the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge, which sees the world’s best climbers attempting to conquer Denali, Everest, Kosciuszko, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Vinson, and, of course, Mont Blanc.


Despite our spitting distance proximity to the Alps, my outdoor adventure these days is limited to gentle hikes and bike rides through Switzerland’s rolling Appenzell valley. Really, anything that’ll keep my encroaching dad bod at bay. The landscape here is gentle and pastoral and impossibly green, even during autumn; the mountains loom in the near distance, rocky and vertical, dusted with snow. As I hike or ride, the Geosphere’s presence is palpable, not in a cumbersome way, but thematically, almost like it’s magnetically attracted to those heady summits on the horizon.

On Sundays, our small city empties out. The shops remain shuttered. Invariably, it seems, the fog rolls in from nearby Lake Constance, adding a ghostly layer to the narrow, winding streets. The only signs of life seem to be the cathedral bells, echoing through the mist. It was on one of these days that our small family did what any self-respecting Swiss family does: We headed to the mountains.

My son is nine months old, still far too young for anything resembling a serious hike. So we took the cable car to the top of Säntis, an 8,000-foot peak with a precariously perched restaurant befitting a Bond villain. Halfway up, we broke through the clouds; at the treeless summit, over piping hot plates of cheese spätzle and cold local beers, we looked out and took in the view of our new life.

There were the clouds, like white lakes running through the valleys far below. Above them were the serrated, snow-capped Alps of Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Germany. And then there was the light, so strikingly clear yet soft, golden, otherworldly, as if God herself was developing new Instagram filters.

On that observation deck, I held my son at my hip, standing next to my wife, the red-billed alpine crows riding the thermals, mountain climbers snaking up the steep rocky face below, and I caught the Geosphere’s bronze case winking in the light. I looked at the dials: one marking the local hour, the other smaller and set to eastern standard time, where my father—now in his mid-seventies, but ever the mountain man I worshipped in my childhood—would just be waking up.

Standing there on the summit, looking at my son’s dark eyes go wide with wonderment at all the splendor below, I felt like my father for the first time in my life. I thought of him. I thought of my own son, the mountains, the pioneers who’d conquered them. All this continuity and appreciation, the outdoors blessing our lives. And the watch strapped to my wrist, keeping track of it all.

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Alex and Miles Pincus chart a course with Panerai and the new Panerai Luminor Due aboard Brooklyn’s Pilot

Photographs by Doug Young
Fashion styled by Justin Arroyo

Created for the Italian navy in 1950, Panerai’s Luminor was built for function above all else. Every element of its now iconic silhouette was designed for underwater excellence: the hefty, water-resistant case; the oversized, luminescent numerals; the crown-protecting lever. Unfortunately for Italian sailors, Panerai hasn’t been part of the official navy uniform for some time, but the watches still retain the rugged good looks (and focused engineering) that ensured each timepiece would withstand the rigors of life and combat at sea. Therein lies the ironic allure of today’s diving watches — they seduce with the promise of adventure, bringing some high seas swagger to civilians, even if the only diving most see is a few feet off a yacht.

Still, the bulky proportions that made the Luminor so beloved by sailors aren’t always compatible with life on land.  Panerai’s new streamlined Luminor Due offers a solution. It refines the brand’s classic dive watch down to its essence, resulting in the thinnest timepiece Panerai has ever produced. Its sleek, minimalist lines have all the hallmarks of the original, translated elegantly to scale. It easily pairs with suits (and not only those of the neoprene variety.)

Like all great designs, the streamlined Luminor Due is a master study in proportions. Two case sizes are on offer.The 42mm version is just 10.5mm thick, while the 38mm  model (the smallest diameter in Panerai history) comes in at 11.2mm thick. Both feature the new OP XXXIV automatic movement, driving a traditional date function and offering three-days of power reserve, a hallmark of the collection and its maker. For those customers and collectors who favor traditional Panerai sizing, the Luminor Due is also available in 45mm, equipped with a GMT function.

Beyond its versatile sizing, the new Due introduces a range of fashion-minded dials and straps. The latter come in a variety of colors, including a baby-blue alligator skin pattern and a handsome mint-colored leather, which are easily swappable. The message here is clear: This watch isn’t just for seafarers (or men, in general) anymore. While still resolutely sporty, the Luminor Due makes Panerai’s distinctive look more wearable for those who prefer taking to the water with a cocktail in hand.

The new Panerai Luminor Due can be configured with a variety of straps.

Which is precisely the spirit that inspired brothers Alex and Miles Pincus to open a fleet of nautical canteens in Manhattan and Brooklyn.(They also opened a seafood restaurant in New Orleans, called Seaworthy, in partnership with the Ace Hotel.) After growing up as avid sailors in Louisiana, the brothers were living in New York and “kept coming back to the premise that one of the best things about having a boat is sitting dockside and having a drink. “We just kept mulling it over, like ‘How great would it be to have a boat that you can enjoy without having to commit?’” says Miles.

At that time, Alex was working as an architect, Miles as a professional sailor and boat restorer; together, they set about refurbishing a historic schooner that would become Grand Banks, their breezy (and boozy) outpost docked in the Hudson River along Manhattan’s TriBeCa. Pilot, a racing schooner dating back to 1924, which now serves customers while floating off Brooklyn Bridge Park, followed soon after. “These boats have a history that new boats can’t even begin to touch,” says Alex, “It’s like a vintage, mechanical watch versus a brand-new smartwatch.” As both watch enthusiasts and men that divide their time between land and sea, the Pincus brothers sat down with Watch Journal to discuss the new Luminor Due and finessing the style out of the maritime lifestyle.


The Luminor Due 

How did you get into watches?

A: I studied architecture and I’m very into design. For a while, I really didn’t get watches. Then my friend took me to Analog Shift; I started looking around and realized that [watchmaking] is its own discipline of design with so many subtle ideas that are being worked through. I got obsessed, scanning all the watch blogs for what would be my first serious watch. I ended up getting a vintage Seamaster from the year I was born.

M: For a while, I really loved my watch — I have a Submariner — and thought it’s great, it’s simple, it’s nautical. Then when I got attached to my cellphone, I thought ‘Why do I need this? I’m checking the time on my phone’. I hadn’t worn it for about a year and a half but I put it on the other night and, with a little bit of a wind, it was back in business. That’s pretty impactful. Like, this thing is going to keep on going.

A: The first watch I ever got was my grandfather’s from the 1920’s: a really beautiful dress watch, really thin, with a couple diamonds and rubies on it. It definitely has not seen it’s moment in the resurgence of watch styles yet. When I’m 90, it’s gonna look really cool.

Do you guys generally share the same tastes, as far as style?

M: We often dress alike, which is terrible and funny at the same time. Like, we’ll show up at the same meeting with the same shirt on.

A: We both are reasonably nautical by default. I would say my general fashion aesthetic is ‘Don’t look like an asshole.’ It’s not much more complicated than that. We’re usually working on boats, so you wind up dressing a certain way. You have to do physical work but you also have to look presentable to be dealing with people in a restaurant.

M: It’s a funny look you have to choose because it’s always super hot out during our peak hours. Sometimes you’re dealing with management, sometimes you’re in the bowels of the boat fixing something.

Given how varied your days are, what do you look for in an everyday watch?

A: Something that’s comfortable, something that’s extremely durable.

M: My wrist will literally bang into a thousand things a day.

A: We’re walking around a lot of tight quarters on a boat, so you have to have something that’s resilient and fits well and is functional.

M: That, and not exceptionally heavy.

Alex and Miles Pincus aboard their bar/restaurant Pilot docked in Brooklyn.

Sounds like you could be describing the new Luminor Due. What did you think of it?

M: It feels great, super thin. It sat on the wrist really nicely. It’s a great watch for working on a boat. Even though it’s so thin, it doesn’t feel insignificant.

A: It’s a nice balance between having a big presence on the face and a thin, light feel on the wrist. I don’t wanna wear a monster on my wrist…[like I said,] I don’t wanna look like an asshole. Honestly, though, I’d rather be subtle in everything I do from watch to clothes to lifestyle.

I imagine that balance, between mechanics and appearance, is something you both know a lot about, having transformed boats into restaurants…

M: It’s definitely a balance we’ve grown into through the years. We showed up in 2014 with Grand Banks and the day we opened had a 200-deep line down the pier. It’s a big challenge to overcome, having a compact space with very limited water, electrical, you name it. We’ve had to be very creative about how we make it comfortable and familiar for people but still authentic to the boat and the idea we’re trying to present.

A: It’s actually a lot like a watch: we have a constrained space and there are certain components that aren’t going away.

M: It needs to tell time and it needs to fit in this big of a space…

A: And there are all these different moving parts that we need in order to function. It could be a Frankenstein, or it could feel natural like ‘Oh, of course, it always looked like this’. It takes a lot of consideration to get to that point. Like, a watch doesn’t all of a sudden look graceful and simple. So many decisions go into every little thing to make it feel effortless. We learned a lot with Grand Banks, tried to improve on that [at Pilot], and put that experience into a full renovation of Grand Banks to make all of the little pieces work together even better. By the time we do the next boat, we might have it down.

Montauk Oysters “A Kiss From the Sea.”

The Top Pieces at Fortuna’s “Important Watches” Auction, According to our Editors

Fortuna’s second installment of “Important Watches” is just around the corner. From a Rolex Daytona Paul Newman to a 90s Gerald Genta rarity, there’s much to be coveted. The Watch Journal team sorted through the auction’s 66 lots to identify the pieces we wouldn’t mind investing in.

Cartier Tonneau Cintree Dual Time

Cartier Tonneau Cintree Dual Time
“Cartier is known for their fabulously shaped watches: the bathtub-inspired Baignoire, the melting Crash, the iconic rectangular Tank, just to name a few. The barrel-shaped Tonneau is one of the most elegant, and the dual time zones are completely useful for the modern day traveler, making for a most fascinating and unusual dial.” —Stephen Watson, Editor in Chief

Audemars Piguet Twenty Dollar Gold Coin Ref. 5610 BA

Audemars Piguet Twenty Dollar Gold Coin Ref. 5610 BA
“The development of ultra-thin movements in the mid to late 50s led to wildly creative timepiece applications like the use of currency and coins as dials and watch cases. Not only does this remarkable timepiece feature a mechanical movement with 32 hour (!) power reserve, it’s also slim enough to fit inside a hollowed out twenty dollar gold coin. Overall, a stunning piece.” —Max Prince, Deputy Editor

Audemars Piguet 18K Pink Gold Skeletonized Chronograph
“A 1980s AP pink gold skeletonized chronograph in a female friendly 37 mm case size? This is a done deal for me. Pioneers in the field of complications, this Audemars Piguet marks an era of mechanical expertise that survived the 1970s quartz crisis. The skeletonized case provides a front row view of the chronograph mechanism in action. Elegantly hand engraved plates and bridges drive home the ultimate craftsmanship and value of this special timepiece.” —Katie Reed, Publisher

Gerald Genta “Success” Octagon Chronograph

Gerald Genta “Success” Octagon Chronograph
“Interest in Gerald Genta timepieces has been escalating for some time with rare examples becoming harder and harder to find. This octagon shaped chronograph from 1990 exhibits the best of the era—a carbon dial and a gleaming yellow gold case and bracelet. These wildly cool stylistic elements are in fashion once again. The 90s are back, baby!” —Courtney Kenefick, Special Projects Editor

Patek Philippe “Nautilus” Ref. 5712/1A

Patek Philippe “Nautilus” Ref. 5712/1A
“An untouched 42 mm blue dial Nautilus with date, power reserve, moon phase, and sweep seconds in stainless steel? With box and papers? You are looking at a relative holy grail. Patek retailers hold years-long waiting lists for a steel Nautilus, so good luck getting one any time soon. Skip the line, roll the dice, and head straight to Boardwalk and Park Place with Ref.5712.” —Marc Lotenberg, CEO

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman
“A Rolex Paul Newman Ref. 6239 is the watch most Rolex fans would give their right arm for. With stunning results achieved  for Newman’s own at Phillips last year (it sold for $17,752,500), the desirability factor for this watch goes without saying.” —Stephen Watson, Editor in Chief


Important Watches will take place at 1:00 PM on Thursday, September 27th. Register to bid here.

Fortuna Announces “Important Watches” Auction—And the Name Says It All

New York City-based auction house Fortuna hosts the second installment of the “Important Watches” auction following a successful sale in June. Another sampling of rare timepieces will be up for grabs during the September 27 event. Collectors’ pieces from Patek Philippe, Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, and more will go to the highest bidder, with starting prices ranging from $500 to $110,000.

Patek Philippe Nautilus with Date Moonphase Complications

The crown jewel of the auction—a rare, fresh-to-market Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona—carries the highest starting bid at $110,000. And rightly so. The early 70s piece comes to the auction in great condition from its original owner. Other highlights include highly sought after vintage and contemporary pieces from Patek Philippe: a “Nautilus” Ref. 5712/1A (with box and papers) and an incredibly well-preserved first-series Ref. 2526 will be up for grabs. And not to be overlooked are a Gerald Genta “Success” Octagon Chronograph, a circa 1973 Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655, and an impressive selection women’s pieces from Cartier, Chanel, and Piaget.

Important Watches will take place at 1:00 PM on Thursday, September 27th. Register to bid here.

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