The Fleurier Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde is a noteworthy new piece from Parmigiani for a number of solid reasons. First of all, it is a traveller’s watch, an exquisitely crafted watch equipped with a second time zone display.
Second, the watch is part of the renaissance of Parmigiani’s Toric collection, a line of sublimely elegant yet stately timepieces that had until recently been reserved for the manufacture’s ultra high-end, grande complications pieces.
Third, the new Toric came to be thanks to a fascinating collaboration between three of the modern watch industry’s technological greats: Parmigiani, Vaucher Manufacture, and Agenhor – more on them in a bit.
A little known fact that nevertheless adds greatly to its merits is that the Toric was in fact the first watch designed by Michel Parmigiani, when he started the eponymous brand in 1996. While it was once used throughout the company’s offerings, it was put in hibernation in favour of more modern designs. But enthusiasts and collectors have for a long time encouraged Parmigiani to make the Toric more widely available – but it wasn’t until new management took charge last year that this happened.
The Toric design meets most all the basic criteria for a dress watch and yet manages to be different in a few notable ways. With a fluted bezel that gives it flair, the Toric mixes a round case with sharp, voluptuous lugs that lend more volume and presence to the watch. Available only in 18k gold for now, the case is 42.8mm in diameter, and like all Parmigiani watches, fitted to an Hermes leather strap.
Being a travel watch, functionality is crucial. Long luminous hands make reading the time easy, while small seconds are located at six o’clock, along with a fan-shaped retrograde date display that’s extra-large and extra-legible. The second time zone, indicated on a dedicated sub-dial at 12 o’clock, has its own day-night indicator, allowing the wearer to easily track twin time zones.
In fact, the second time zone display has two more interesting features. First, it can be set totally independently from the main display, allowing you to track any time zone in the world, not just the 24 standard time zones that are an hour apart – doing away with the common weakness in most second time zone watches. Second, because this display can be set independently via its own crown, it also works as a 24-hour chronograph.
All this functionality came to be as a result of a three-way collaboration. Parmigiani Fleurier’s design team – led by Michel Parmigiani naturally – worked closely with the brand’s movement manufacturing division, Vaucher Manufacturer, as well as a specialist in watch modules: Agenhor. The Geneva company is is led by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and has quietly worked on countless impressive movements for watch brands large and small, including MB&F and Van Cleef & Arpels.Though Parmigiani recruited Agenhor for its irreproducible expertise in complications, one must remember: just about every component of the watch is manufactured by Parmigiani or its sister companies – springs, plates, bridges, the decorations, the case, the lugs and even the dial and the buckle are all made within the family.
At a time when so many in the watch industry busy themselves revisiting the past, Parmigiani impresses with a properly modern, yet timeless wristwatch, enhanced by its truly in-house production.
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Victor Toth – Czech Republic
Victor Toth is a Prague-based, professional photographer-turned-watch enthusiast and freelance journalist, whose journey into the complex world of fine watchmaking had begun a number of years ago. Over this time it has become his passion to share his understanding of the finer details of beautiful timepieces, all in an effort to encourage a more thorough appreciation of this wonderful and complex universe of fine mechanics.