Taking its name as a translation for “Chinese Traditional Complete Calendar,” Parmigiani Fleurier presents the Xiali.
In launching the fresh timepiece, the world premiere is an ode to the calendars and civilizations of the world.
The brand says 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.
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 our calendar — between January 21 and February 19.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which names the months and numbers the years, the Chinese calendar names the lunar years and numbers the months.
The names of the years are repeated on a 60-year (sexagesimal) cycle, but the calendar including dates, days and months is calculated on the basis of astronomical observations and varies. Because these calculations vary, it is impossible to make a “perpetual” Chinese calendar.
However, Parmigiani Fleurier’s creation goes as far as it is possible to go in creating the most complete, and most precise, Chinese calendar in the form of a timepiece.
The numbering system of the time units is based on the combination of a decimal cycle, the ten Celestial Stems, and a duodecimal cycle, the twelve Earthly Branches.
Multiple Elements and Complex Information
Parmigiani Fleurier has been successful 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. At the end of these twelve years, the watch must be reset for a new equivalent period.
During this period, all information remains accurate without any intervention necessary, as long as the watch does not stop. If the watch is stopped, you can make corrections simply by changing the day and month number with a rapid corrector that facilitates adjustments over long periods.
This is not Parmigiani Fleurier’s first success in replicating the poetic and distinctive calendar complications whose elements have long inspired Michel Parmigiani to reach for new horological heights. First came the Gregorian Annual Calendar, followed in 2019 by the Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar, or Muslim calendar, a feat of miniaturization that was awarded the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in the Innovation category in 2020.
The Chinese Calendar, which succeeds these previous masterpieces, allows the House to offer an exceptional calendar trilogy.
Guido Terreni, CEO of Parmigiani, reflected on the launch. He said: “This year is indeed a very special year. This is a project that I’m very attached to, and it is the nucleus of this year’s collection. The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Xiali Calendar is a complete Chinese calendar, born from Michel’s passion for cultural calendars. And it is very dear to me because it is also about respecting and understanding different cultures. What sets civilizations apart is the ways in which they interpret time.
“The Chinese calendar is among the most difficult calendars to master because it’s both a solar and lunar calendar together. For the first time on the wrist, you will be able to see all the elements of the calendar that are not cyclical. It has been a great challenge to master.”