New Watch! • 26 Oct 2018

Parmigiani Fleurier: Fixing the Unfixable

by Luke Carlino


Quartz Crisis Beginnings

The rise in popularity of the quartz watch was the greatest upset to the industry in the 70s. As sales of mechanical watches began to decline due to their inexpensive and accurate counterpart, none suffered more than the Swiss. Considering this, and the fact that many well-known Swiss brands were closing their doors, it could be regarded as a bad time for a Swiss watchmaker to enter the industry. However, Michel Parmigiani, a young watchmaker from Couvet, did precisely that. Parmigiani restored many antique clocks that were deemed unfixable, dedicating his spare time creating his own designs for modern but classically inspired watches. His work on pieces from the Musée Patek Philippe and the Château des Monts earned him a reputation that was noticed by the Sandoz Family. After spending time in charge of maintenance for the family’s automata and clock collection, he decided to create his own brand with backing from the Sandoz family. Parmigiani Fleurier was born.

Evolution of the Toric Chronomètre

The Toric Chronomètre is based on the original 1996 Parmigiani wristwatch. A design inspired by Classical Greek architecture, its case design is unapologetically classic with a double-step fluted bezel, guilloched dial and javelin-shaped hands. Its design encapsulates Parmigiani’s unique approach to watchmaking. The updated Toric Chronomètre could be considered as a more modern version of the original. The architectural influence is less obvious, the bezel is singular, and the body is both wide and slim. Both watches are excellently constructed and a sheer delight to look at.

Traditionally, the Toric family has included the grandest complications of all the Parmigiani Fleurier collections. In 2017, Parmigiani returned to its roots and unveiled the Toric Chronomètre, a contemporary interpretation of the first watch designed by Michel Parmigiani. Hours, minutes, seconds and date – the simple portrayal of the passage of time, harking back to the model that founded the brand in 1996.

Toric Qualité Fleurier

This year has seen yet another upgrade to the design in the form of the Qualité Fleurier model. As the name suggests, this version has received a new certification by passing the Fleurier Quality test. Both technical and aesthetic benchmarks must be met to be awarded the Fleurier Quality certification, one of the most stringent testing processes in the industry.

Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Qualité Fleurier

Visually, one of the most notable changes to the newer model is the diamond-shaped damascening Côtes de Genève. The barleycorn guilloche dial is engraved by a hand-operated rose engine with 18k rose gold hour markers creating a luxuriously beautiful finish. All this effort results in what is arguably the most beautiful Toric wristwatch.

Michel Parmigiani is deeply inspired by antiquity

Respect to the past with modern updates is the idea behind the Toric Qualité Fleurier. This is also something that Parmigiani Fleurier is planning on implementing across the whole brand and future releases. After all, why wouldn’t you use such a fantastic backstory as the basis for your evolution when the craftsmanship is this exceptional?

Inspired by Antiquity & Music

Parmigiani has found a way to remain inspired that aligns with their stylish mode of operation and values. For the past decade, the brand has sponsored the Montreux Jazz Festival, an event which pays homage to classic jazz but features a host of modern sounds and genres related to jazz as well. It’s the perfect partnership; two institutions that evolve while remembering their roots.

American performer and record producer, Ryan Leslie was welcomed as a new friend of the brand during the 52nd edition, the Montreux Jazz Festival. Going on 11 years, Parmigiani Fleurier and Montreux Jazz Festival share a unique partnership, united by their shared commitment to celebrating creativity and mastery of a craft.

This year, Parmigiani did something a little different for the festival by releasing ten new special-edition Kalpa models. A rectangular-faced musically inspired design in both male and female versions. These limited edition pieces are decorated with a piano keyboard between the hour markers using a process called épargnage. This involves the masking of the surface area on the dial minus a few specific sections which are sandblasted. The areas outside of these sections become the black keys and gaps of the keyboard. According to Parmigiani, the relationship between time and music is intrinsic, making the pairing of the brand and the music festival a simple choice.

“Music is like watchmaking: it exists whenever a tempo is set – it becomes sublime only when we devote our heart and soul to it.” – Michel Parmigiani

Aside from the special edition Kalpa Grande (for men) and a stone-set Kalparisma (for women) at the Montreux Jazz festival; Parmigiani Fleurier introduced a range of new Kalpa watches in 2018, including the Kalpa Hebdomadaire, Chronor and Kalpagraph Chronomètre. Pictured below the Kalpa Kalpagraphe Chronomètre, which is is the first tonneau-shaped integrated chronograph to be entirely manufactured by Parmigiani Fleurier.
Kalpa Kalpagraphe Chronomètre with a black dial. With balance, comfort and readability as their watchwords, the designers at Parmigiani Fleurier worked intently on the Kalpa to introduce a touch of modernity while at the same time respecting the original harmony of its proportions and aesthetic codes. The tonneau case, whose ergonomic shape is known for its perfect fit on the wrist, features bolder, more modern curves that enhance the piece’s dynamism.

Friends of Parmigiani

Parmigiani Fleurier is the sort of brand that approaches celebrity endorsement with subtlety and is careful not to use the word ambassador. Parmigiani watches tend to speak for themselves, the immaculate detail and finishing invested in each timepiece can only be communicated by viewing the watches in person. No amount of endorsement will change that. In saying that, the ‘Friends’ of the brand are as varied as the watches leaving the Fleurier based manufacturer.

Evgeniy Malkin and Anna Kasterova visiting the manufacture

These include NHL superstar, three-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time world champion, Evgeniy Malkin, and his wife, TV-presenter, Anna Kasterova. The couple is representative of the quiet confidence the brand exudes. Celebrity endorsement is part of the modern marketing toolkit, there’s no denying that. However, there’s something particularly refreshing about how Parmigiani Fleurier approaches the matter. Watches are gifted to the friends of the brand; the connection between the manufacturer and the celebrity is seen more like a friendship, with both sides respecting the talents of each other. This, in turn, helps the brand retain its prestige while also broadening their reach.

From Australia to Singapore, Malaysia to Thailand – our goal is to promote watch culture the world over, by sharing the stories of watches we love. You’re more than welcome to stop by one of our boutiques, say hi and have a look at Parmigiani Fleurier watches in person. We’d absolutely love to guide you in your watch collecting journey. Have a question? Drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you.


Luke Carlino

Luke is a writer and musician from Melbourne, Australia. One of his earliest memories is a gift given to him by his father - his grandfather's Seiko 5606-5100 automatic watch that accompanied him during the Vietnam war. Ever since, timepieces have marked the crucial moments of Luke's life. He is never without a watch and has a particular interest in Hublot and Breitling watches.


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