Confidence comes with age and, as Parmigiani Fleurier eases comfortably into its third decade, it is revamping its most important creations that will serve as a solid foundation for the future.
The idea is to form a defined structure within the company with a streamlined vision, backed with signature creations that will “stand the test of time”, the brand says.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s founder, Michel Parmigiani, is well-versed in the importance of traditional watchmaking that can withstand the knocks of time, even for a young contemporary brand like his.
Parmigiani graduated from watchmaking school as the quartz crisis threatened to destroy the Swiss industry but rather than run for the hills, the young visionary opened a workshop dedicated largely to the restoration of traditional timepieces.
Eventually, this led to a meeting with the Sandoz Family Foundation that enabled the restorer to set up his own brand with the rare luxury of an in-house manufacturer. In two decades it developed 33 calibres and six collections, impressive even by Swiss standards of time and tradition.
Now, Parmigiani is pausing for breath to fine-tune its engines of horology, beginning with the Toric.
The Toric was one of the earliest timepieces produced by Parmigiani that displayed all the hallmarks of a classic in the making and has become one of its most recognised models – round case, javelin hands, leather strap and always, a complex movement beneath a highly crafted dial.
Designed by Michel Parmigiani and powered by the PF331 self-winding calibre, the Toric Chronometre takes its design cue from ancient Greek columns.
Patterns of gadroons and knurling are etched onto an ergonomically curved case in white or pink gold, framing a black opaline or a white grained dial, the grainy effect achieved by brushing the dial with a salt and silver powder combination.
Parmigiani’s best-selling model is the Tonda 1950,one of its most elegant. The collection features a few subtle updates, including a more affordable stainless steel version with a black or silvered dial, and a new Tonda Metrographe with a chronograph PF315 self-winding movement. Design tweaks include a tachymeter and new counter proportions.
Meteorite dials have become a speciality of Parmigiani, fascinated by the unique patterns created by rapid changes in temperature as they enter the atmosphere.
These patterns are brought to the forefront of every dial, and two new Tonda 1950 pieces reveal a Widmanstatten texture similar to interleaving ribbons.
This particular meteorite was discovered in Sweden and treated to a lengthy process of acid baths to reveal its texture, before being dyed in black
and white. The continuing relationship between Parmigiani and Bugatti leads to another novelty that is a more restrained version than some of their earliest collaborations. The Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe Performance L is a sports watch with a flyback chronograph and double tachometer referencing kilometres and miles.
The chequerboard pattern on the dial and case band required laser work to achieve the fine motif, and the two-part dial creates depth, just some of the features signalling the attention to detail.
The red and blue colours of Bugatti appear on the dial and the embossed pattern on the strap is taken from the car’s seats. In other collections, pocket watches pique Parmigiani’s curiosity, in particular an oval design from 1780 that was fitted with a system of two pawls in a cam that enabled the hands to extend and retract.
Parmigiani applied these mechanics to a wristwatch and called it the Ovale Pantographe. The flexible structure of the hands is the result of 30 elements in aluminium alloy that allows them to move.
If there’s one thing Parmigiani loves it’s a challenge, and not content with the success of the Ovale’s retractable hands, it equipped the watch with a movement made entirely from rose gold capable of an eight-day power reserve. Other references in the Ovale Pantographe collection include a 50-piece set with a barley grain guilloche dial and the Ovale Tourbillon, which is treated to Parmigiani’s Abyss Blue.
This particular shade is reserved for one timepiece each year, and achieved by a method of craftsmanship Parmigiani keeps a closely guarded secret.
The watch is powered by the PF500 with a 30-second tourbillon movement and a power reserve indicator, housed in a rose gold case.
Rose gold is also the material of choice for the new Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire, paired with a silvered yellow 12-sector flinque dial.