More than just a calendar, Xiali is an ode to the calendars and civilizations of the world through the Swiss mechanical art so dear to Parmigiani Fleurier since its founding. With all the poetry and culture it represents, Xiali takes its name from the translation of “Chinese Traditional Complete Calendar.” Throughout history, man has sought to control time, to predict and chart its flow, in order to better organize the rhythm of social, religious and agricultural life. The calendar, which is universal, allows us to identify dates that are inscribed like milestones in the flow of time.
Parmigiani Fleurier has long been fascinated by this cultural phenomenon and presents the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar, an extremely complex creation that follows up other special editions devoted to re-creating the Gregorian and Muslim Calendars and which is the third to have been developed by Parmigiani Fleurier in one of its unparalleled areas of expertise.
The calendar functions are among the most fascinating, mirroring civilizations and societies, receptacles of belief, and indefinable phenomena such as the movement of shadows, alternation of seasons, and the mysteries of the lunar cycle. Together, such phenomena play a vital role in human activity.
The Chinese Calendar is complex, as it combines elements of both a solar and a lunar calendar, which are calculated separately and then synchronized. This is accomplished by the addition of an extra lunar or intercalary month. This 13th month, which allows the two cycles to coincide, occurs approximately every three years. Finally, the Chinese calendar divides the solar year into 24 solar terms, or breaths, which symbolize the agricultural calendar.
The New Year appears according to precise rules and takes the name of the month that precedes it. The calculation is complex but allows us to follow the seasons and to set the Chinese New Year at the arrival of spring, which varies between the end of January and the end of February in the calendar—between January 21 and February 19.
The 10 Celestial Stems serve the function of assigning elements to seasons and the planets — water, wood, metal, fire, and earth. The 12 Earthly Branches correspond to the signs of the zodiac: each is represented by an animal, which designates the years of the sexagesimal cycle and will influence the destiny and character of human beings born in that year.
Parmigiani Fleurier has succeeded in condensing all of this complex information on a dial: hours and minutes; the display of the month and its numbering; an additional month when applicable (i.e., every three years); short month (29 days) or long month (30 days); solar terms as corresponding to 24 divisions of 15° of the sun’s path along the ecliptic (the sun’s trajectory as seen from the earth); pointer and name of the year; indication of the animal and the elements with alternating colors, whether Yin or Yang; numbering of the days and moon-phases. All the information and adjustments are made quickly thanks to the various correctors located on both sides of the case middle.
The watch conceals an extremely sophisticated mechanism in the new movement, Calibre PF008, which allows for the display of this information in the classical Chinese characters. As the Chinese calendar is not cyclical, the complication is mechanically programmed and covers a period of 12 years via a cam system. In addition to extending the calendar theme so dear to Parmigiani Fleurier, the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar also reinforces the sartorial codes of the Tonda PF collection.
The entire development and design process of this timepiece was a balancing act. Complication does not necessarily mean complexity. The challenge of creating such a calendar has been pushed to the very last detail while ensuring that the codes of the Tonda PF collection are respected. The multi-level dial, with rhodium-plated 18ct white gold appliqués and skeletonized hour and minute hands, is executed in Imperial Red with a “barley grain” guilloché pattern enhancing its surface.
The stainless steel case has a knurled bezel in 950 platinum, while the integrated bracelet, in the same material, promises comfort and elegance on the wrist. As is customary at Parmigiani Fleurier, the caseback is open to reveal the movement and its decorations through a sapphire crystal. The Côtes de Genève finish and skeletonized oscillating weight in 18-carat pink gold bring lightness and openness to this exceptional calibre.