A magnificent piece of haute horlogerie from the masters of Parmigiani.
The Tecnica Ombre Blanche shows impressive refinement and a discreet air of elegance. It is one of those timepieces whose value is self-evident; it does not need to flaunt its worth with opulent decorations or an especially thick case. Its beauty lies in the purity of its lines, the sophistication of its interplay of light and the finesse of its details – for those who appreciate such things.
The dial on the Tecnica Ombre Blanche features Grand Feu enamelling, created using the champlevé technique. The process in this case consists of engraving a gold base by creating a hollow which corresponds to the dial area. The enamel is then applied to this bas-relief with a paintbrush and the whole piece is exposed to very high temperatures so that the vitreous enamel melts and fuses. Several layers of enamel are successively applied, then fired, until the hollow is filled. The result is a dazzling white dial whose myriad enamel layers create an interplay of light which brings it to life; a perfectly flat, satin-finished dial, which nevertheless gives an exquisite impression of depth.
This interplay of light extends to the design of the case on the Tecnica Ombre Blanche and, more specifically, to its lugs. The side of its iconic lugs, traditionally straight and elongated, has been bevelled on this model, making it ever so slightly rounded. Although this is a tiny and almost imperceptible change, it makes a subtle difference to the appearance of the lug; it is no longer delineated by the concrete line of the material, but rather is discreetly highlighted. On looking at it, the lug appears unchanged; however it is its softness and sophistication which catches the eye.
The rose gold case is very slender for a timepiece which includes a minute repeater. The Tecnica Ombre Blanche is characterised by the quest for refinement which drives many creations by Parmigiani Fleurier. This is why the minute repeater is activated by pivoting a knurled bezel which is delicately integrated into the profile, as a traditional side bolt would have disrupted the harmony of the timepiece.
The precious finishing touch made to the timepiece is a unique decoration on the bridges of the movement. It uses a very intricate guilloché technique, formed of thousands of ribbed lines which are parallel, but without creating a rigid geometric pattern. This decorative work is significantly more complex than a classic “Côte de Genève”; it generates a wave effect which animates the bridges and brings the fresco to life, reflecting light in all directions.
The Tecnica Ombre Blanche is one of the most complex timepieces in Haute Horlogerie as its mechanism houses a minute repeater, tourbillon and perpetual calendar – three complications integrated into a single complete movement.
The minute repeater is wound elegantly by rotating a knurled ring under the bezel a quarter turn clockwise. This sophisticated activation mechanism represents a challenge in terms of water resistance, as the surface area to be protected from water is much larger than a traditional side bolt.
The rose gold case has been designed to ensure that the minute repeater chime has the best possible resonance in an optimal space. The chimes on the Tecnica Ombre Blanche are called “cathedral” chimes as they form two sets of gongs around the case; this greatly amplifies the acoustic quality compared with a single set, but the watchmaker’s work on the housing is considerably more difficult. The minute repeater chimes the hours, quarter hours and minutes with an exceptional chime, immediately signalling the Tecnica Ombre Blanche’s eligibility for a place in the watchmaking Hall of Fame.