The creation of this exceptional clock draws its inspiration from the concept "tempus fugit" (times flies), providing an endless source of fascination. Whether long or short, friend or foe, time runs wild and free. The idea of "taming" it - not to gain mastery over it but rather to better appreciate it - this was the starting point of the amazing adventure which gave birth to the mare and her foal, an automaton and exceptional clock baptised “Hippologia”.
The Parmigiani Haute Horlogerie Manufacture has mastered the fine art of creating beautiful timepieces shrouded in mystery. Through its restoration work, Parmigiani is intimately acquainted with historical masterpieces, enabling it to hone its own creativity. This manifests itself in the form of unique timepieces, each a real piece of watchmaking bravura. In the past, the manufacture has already created many table clocks decorated with sculptures reproducing a dynamic movement. This year, Parmigiani Fleurier wanted to dream bigger and go further.
The brand conceived a creature which would take on a life of its own in the talented hands of a world-renowned automaton maker. Because the animal kingdom has long been associated with the history of Parmigiani, through the Maurice-Yves Sandoz Collection, the automaton takes the form of the noble Arabian thoroughbred, the desert horse prized for its courage and endurance. A tribute to the values of apprenticeship so dear to the manufacture which has made the transfer of knowledge a core value, the automaton maker creates a solid gold statue of a mare running with her foal. Silent yet larger than life, they move inside an oval glass cabinet representing the desert and its dunes, created by glassware specialist Lalique.
This clock features no less than 2200 components. Its base houses two mechanisms side by side, one connected to the automaton, the other to the time display. The system which triggers the automaton almost constitutes a third mechanism in itself. It was a year in the making. The window set with white and champagne diamonds shows the hours and minutes over three hours, as well as the scale which can be used to adjust the operation of the automata to the desired time. The mare and her foal are designed as a clock movement showcasing historical watchmaking expertise. The head, tail and hooves are cast in silver and hand-polished by a jeweller. The horses' powerful bodies feature a hand-engraved decoration, while the finishes on the table clock mechanism are in the great classic tradition of Haute Horlogerie.
A symbolism already featured in the Cat and Mouse automaton, the Tempus fugit (Time Flies) metaphor is taking on special philosophical significance in 2012, inspired by Eastern mythology. In homage to the Chinese year of the dragon, Parmigiani is reinterpreting the famous legend of the carp who became a dragon and has decided to feature it, a founding myth in Chinese civilisation, using the representation of an imperial dragon in the pursuit of the pearl of knowledge.
According to legend, only a carp which has managed to present itself at the Dragon gate, after many attempts to travel up the river, receives the honour of being transformed into a dragon. This parable is the story of the student who wanted to serve the Emperor. The carp changing into a dragon here stands as a symbol of perseverance. The pearl represents imperial wisdom. Forming an inseparable duo, "they allude to social climbing within the imperial hierarchy, to power, wisdom and protection against negative influences", explains Swiss sinologist Estelle Niklès van Osselt.
Composed of nine animals, a highly positive number in symbolic terms, the imperial dragon featured by Parmigiani has the head of a camel, the eyes of a demon, the ears of a cow, the antlers of a deer, the neck of a snake, the paws of a tiger, the claws of an eagle, the belly of a mollusc, the scales of a carp, and the mane and beard of a lion. The shape of the nose, which is very distinctive, looks like a mushroom, a symbol of good luck.
With the idea of "Tempus fugit", Parmigiani illustrates the concept of the eternal march of time. In this work, using a mechanism developed by Parmigiani, the dragon travels one revolution per hour, in pursuit of the incandescent pearl which escapes the dragon's clutches six times an hour; each time the pearl moves, a gong sounds to alert the owner.
With a desire to show the highest respect for the subtleties of the master craftsman's expertise at each step, with Le Dragon et la Perle du Savoir (The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom), Parmigiani is demonstrating the scope and richness of its knowledge of haute horlogerie. First sculpted from wax, the dragon's body is then cast in three sections. The solid silver cast is then expertly chiselled. The body, covered in scales, is the most complex operation. Each of the 585 scales, made of natural jade, is designed, cut and then set one by one in the precise form required, and then riveted individually across the entire body, forming a complex assembly of precious elements. The flamboyant dragon is decorated in shades of green jadeite - taken from a very rare and prestigious collection which offers an exceptional range of over 150 stones - and white, yellow, orange and red jades. The claws and moustaches are made of solid white gold, the eyes from rubies and the tongue from carnelian.
The pearl of wisdom is a solid white gold sphere surrounded by golden flames, which is set in a cameo of precious stones including white diamond, ruby, and orange and yellow sapphires.
The base, which contains the mechanism, represents the river up which the carp is swimming. It is cut from a block of rock crystal, with the movement visible through its transparency. The gilded silver ring showing the 12 Chinese hours (1 Chinese hour is equivalent to two hours) turns every 24 hours. The fixed indexes are made from jade.
A unique piece of watchmaking art formed of almost 1000 components, it took more than 5800 hours of work and the involvement of the most prestigious artisan craftsmen, from the sculptor to the goldsmith, the gemmologist to the gem-cutter, the jeweller to the setter, the visualiser to the designer to the clockmaker.
The Toric Lépine, a unique collection piece by Parmigiani Fleurier and Lalique
The Toric Lépine embodies the fusion of Haute Horlogerie with the very best crystal work and jewellery making expertise. This unique objet d’art in the form of a table clock features a crystal case by Lalique which houses a Parmigiani Fleurier pocket watch. In watchmaking, the term "Lépine" indicates that the pocket watch has no cover, which means that the passage of time is permanently visible.
Thanks to its mobile mounting system, the Toric Lépine can be transformed from a table clock to a pocket watch as desired. This capacity for metamorphosis, which is often seen in Parmigiani Fleurier pieces, also pays tribute to the numerous transformable jewellery items and horological objects found among René Lalique's creations.
The aesthetics of the Toric Lépine draw on the aquatic world, so often a source of inspiration for the Lalique brand. The pocket watch features a minute repeater, a Parmigiani Fleurier Haute Horlogerie movement whose mechanical complexity and sophisticated adjustment represent the very pinnacle of complication craftsmanship.
The continuity between the crystal elements and the horological craftsmanship is flawless. The Toric Lépine sees Parmigiani Fleurier's most essential horological complication combined with Lalique's iconic materials and codes, with the expertise of each brand being mutually enhanced in the most exquisite harmony.
Inspiration – An artistic conception of time
Of the four elements, René Lalique (1860-1945) had a particular fascination for water, because of the play of light and transparency it shares with glass. A passionate student of nature and its mythology, he often depicted the aquatic world and its fantastical creatures, including women metamorphosing into sirens, Naiads and Nereids.
The Toric Lépine pays tribute to the inventive spirit of René Lalique by resurrecting one of the master jeweller's most iconic creations: the Coutard Fountain, produced in 1935. This trailblazing piece, which established the signature codes of Lalique, depicts the myth of Arethusa, who was turned into a fountain by the goddess Artemis to help her flee from the god Alpheus after he had fallen madly in love with her. The depiction of Arethusa, as well as the pattern of droplets forming the Coutard Fountain in her wake, have remained two of Lalique's signature emblems and have been constantly reinterpreted over time.
A fine example of collaboration between the two Brands, the Toric Lépine depicts the rich symbolism of this fresco, emphasising its beauty with a horological element in the form of a pocket watch placed in the centre of the piece.
Viewed from the front, the crystal base and the watch dial blend together in perfect continuity. The base features a whirlpool of curvaceous Naiads, their long hair transforming into a stream of bubbles which gather to form the shape of the Coutard motif. With nods to both Art Nouveau, in the meticulous arrangement of the droplets, and Art Deco, in their rounded form, this motif extends seamlessly from the crystal to the dial, as if the wave and the movement of the sirens had left it in their wake.
Seen from the back, the Toric Lépine depicts the nymph Arethusa, whose face, framed by two fish, appears on the rear medallion of the pocket watch. Known as the "Masque de Femme" (female mask), this Art Nouveau-inspired creation in crystal suffuses the centre of the fresco with soft lines. The transparent crystal base surrounds the goddess Arethusa, who appears encircled by the same Naiads, with their whirlpool of hair, as those seen accompanying the horological piece at the front. The design of the Toric Lépine and its captivating dance of mythological creatures allows the viewer to admire each facet in turn, with each new angle of observation revealing the sublime wealth of its history and symbols.
Production time invested by both brands
The Le Jour et La Nuit clock project, led jointly by Parmigiani Fleurier and Lalique, reflects the fusion of haute horlogerie with the purest jewellery and crystal-making expertise. The partnership has given rise to two table clocks, the Soleil de Gaïa clock and the Serpent clock, which depict the themes of Day and Night and each boast the very highest levels of craftsmanship.
The two pieces in the collection hark back to the many jewellery pieces created by René Lalique which illustrate the themes of Day and Night. With their Lalique crystal casing and watch dial created by Parmigiani Fleurier's craftsmen, these pieces recreate an aesthetic that is rich in symbolism and history, paying homage to the master jewellers and watchmakers that are the foundations of our heritage.
Lalique timepieces inspired by mythology
Poetic allegories of darkest night and brightest day, which both oppose and complete each other, were one of the favourite themes of master jeweller René Lalique (1860-1945).
In 1899, this allegory took on animal form when Lalique drew a flight of butterflies mirroring a colony of bats, thus opposing these winged creatures of the day and of the night ("Papillons et Chauves-souris" pocket watch). The allegory later took on human form, in the "Le Jour et la Nuit" clock (1926), which depicts two figurines, one male, the other female. The woman, who symbolises the night, is worked in relief on polished glass and the man, who symbolises the day, is worked in counter-relief on satin-finished glass. In Lalique's creations, these figures both oppose and complete each other, evoking the symbolic duality represented in oriental culture by Yin and Yang, which influenced the work of René Lalique in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Lalique and Parmigiani Fleurier are returning once more to this theme with the unveiling of two table clocks. The dials of the two clocks are distinct – one representing the theme of Gaia, the other the theme of the Serpent – while the crystal mount, common to both objects, depicts the opposing allegorical figurines which symbolise Day and Night.
The Sun clock pays homage to the myth of Gaia, Goddess of the Earth and the seasons that produced the world and the life of chaos. In mythology, Gaia is associated with the Sun as she brings life through her light and radiance. Here, the Sun motif has been produced as an Art Deco-inspired graphic design evoking this radiance. Mirroring the theme of day and night, the clock's dial plays on its two sides: one shining with yellow gold and coral like the sun, and the other with mysterious white gold and black to symbolise the night.
Aesthetics of the horological elements
Reminiscent of the warm shades of the sun, the dial of this clock is a disc of orange carnelian, onto which mother-of-pearl segments shaped like petals are placed. Each segment is unique and cut to measure, then arranged to comprise a harmonious series of corollas that concentrically link the centre of the dial in guilloché gold with the external case middle.
Each mother-of-pearl petal is clearly marked out and then assembled to form the design. A laser engraving process is used to create openings in the material in the gaps between the petals, so that the orange carnelian shines through them, clearly outlining the mother-of-pearl segments. To guarantee this contrast between the white mother-of-pearl and the orange carnelian, a white varnish is applied beneath each petal to prevent the passage of light, which would reveal the carnelian underneath. Beneath the gold skeleton hands, a sharp and minutely detailed mosaic is formed, symbolising the interplay between shadow and light so central to the sun's reign.
The reverse of the clock adopts the exact same marquetry process, but the carnelian disc is replaced by black onyx stone, to create the highest contrast with the white mother-of-pearl. The movement's bridges are hand-engraved and then rhodium-plated with the concentric marquetry pattern.
The Le Jour et La Nuit clock project, led jointly by Parmigiani Fleurier and Lalique, reflects the fusion of haute horlogerie with the purest jewellery and crystal-making expertise.
Production time invested by both brands
and technical aspects