What does it take for a new brand to establish itself in the watch industry? Craftsmanship, a distinctive ethos, and a pioneering spirit are all essential. Parmigiani Fleurier, which has been around for just 25 years, ticks all of these boxes. The brand has already developed over 30 calibers, and its collection is home to many prestigious watches. So it’s no wonder that more and more watch lovers are falling for them! Keep reading to find out who’s behind the brand, what the highlights of its collection are, and why we’re smitten with these watches.
The Beginnings of Parmigiani Fleurier
The brand’s founder is Michel Parmigiani, who has been passionate about watchmaking his whole life. He made this passion into his career and specialized in the restoration of watches during his training. Parmigiani opened his watchmaking and restoration workshop during the quartz crisis. Despite swimming against the current of the time, he has great success. He not only had plenty of business restoring valuable pieces for collections and museums, but also received a number of orders for watches made by him.
“In 1980, he was chosen to restore the collection of Maurice-Yves Sandoz, one of the biggest collections of pocket watches and automatons in Switzerland, and came into contact with the Sandoz Family Foundation. With their support, Parmigiani founded his own watchmaking manufacture in 1996 in Fleurier and christened it Parmigiani Fleurier. Today, the brand includes several Swiss workshops with different specializations. From hairsprings to dials to cases,
Parmigiani Fleurier retains control over the entire production process and guarantees that every part of every watch is made in-house. In the highest quality, of course.”
Early Successes and Collections
The brand quickly became a favorite among watch enthusiasts and first won a large audience through a collaboration with Bugatti. Together with the car manufacturer, Parmigiani Fleurier developed watches with designs that evoke motors. These models were naturally only available in limited numbers, but they also drew attention to the brand’s standard models, one of which being the Toric collection, Parmigiani Fleurier’s first collection (still available to this day). It’s based on the golden ratio and thus embodies a classical understanding of balance and aesthetics. The case also takes its cues from Ancient Greece, with handmade knurling inspired by Greek columns. One highlight of the collection is the Toric Tourbillon. The first thing that catches your eye on the dial is the tourbillon located at 7 o’clock. This is an homage to Michel Parmigiani, who was born at 7:08 AM. But if you turn the watch over, you’ll see that the back is even more beautiful than the front. The ultra-thin movement with a platinum micro-rotor is visible through the transparent case back. The construction of such a thin movement is made possible by the fact that the rotor is integrated into the movement rather than lying on top of it. The bridges are decorated with Geneva stripes. This watch has everything the watch lover’s heart desires!
Tonda – The Flagship Collection
“Tonda” is Italian for “round.” The Tonda collection thus strives for the perfection of the round watch, with great attention to detail (as always). Each component of every watch is created with precision. A highlight of the collection is the Tondagraph GT. This watch brings an annual calendar together with a chronograph, a rare combination. Why these two complications? Well, they’re the two complications that are most useful to the company’s founder in his daily life. From a watchmaking perspective, though, it’s extremely difficult to combine them.
Parmigiani Fleurier didn’t let that stand in their way and overcame that challenge. The renowned designer Dino Modolo was brought in to work on the watch’s design. Modolo managed to surmount the biggest hurdle in combining a chronograph with an annual calendar, namely simple readability. The dial offers a lot of information while remaining intuitively readable. And it doesn’t come across as cluttered or chaotic. Whether you’re getting sporty or dressing up, the Tondagraph GT is always the right watch. But more than anything else, it’s a different watch in the best sense of the word – a unique combination of complications that still manages to remain discreet and only stand out to connoisseurs.
Tonda PF – Looking to the Future
Tonda PF is Parmigiani Fleurier’s newest collection and marked the manufacturer’s 25-year anniversary. While the collection is a part of the Tonda family, it’s more turned to the future than the past. It contains the brand’s newest and most striking complications and also introduces the brand’s new signature. The applied PF logo is located at 12 o’clock and sets the tone for the line. These watches are about excellence for purists: No ornament, just high-quality refinement for connoisseurs. The Grain d’Orge Guilloché design of the dials in the line also emulate these qualities. They’re perfectly crafted, though you can only spot their intricacy up close – impressively understated!
The Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante is probably the most prominent piece in the line. The watch implements a well-known complication – two time displays – in a totally new way. It has two hour hands that lie on top of each other, one made of rhodium-plated gold on top and the other of rose gold underneath. Using a push-piece at 8 o’clock, you can set the upper hour hand forward in one-hour intervals to match the local time. The lower hour hand stays put to continue indicating the time at home. If you no longer need to see two time zones, simply push the push-piece integrated in the crown. The rhodium-plated hand goes back to its original position and covers the rose gold hand, putting the latter more or less out of sight.
Now, one might think that complications like an annual calendar are hard to unite with a minimalistic design. After all, they bring a lot of information to the dial. But the Tonda PF Annual Calendar shows that the combination is possible. The dial’s design remains harmonious, thanks to subtly outlined counters and the placement of the date on the minute track. All the information is easy to read without being imposing. Take a look for yourself!
Parmigiani Fleurier Women’s Watches
Parmigiani Fleurier also has plenty to offer for more feminine tastes. Several models in the Tonda line bring together watch making with jewelry making in remarkably beautiful pieces. But these watches make use of more than just diamonds and mother-of-pearl. They also incorporate striking ornaments made of gold and other precious jewels. The result is timepieces that are as unique as the people lucky enough to wear them. A personal highlight for me is the diamond-studded Tonda Selene. The blue aventurine dial is perfect for a moon phase watch. Its 36-mm diameter is also a good choice – the watch is very much present, but still fits smaller wrists well. It’s truly impossible to say whether the watch is more impressive technically or aesthetically, because everything about this watch is beautiful and perfectly executed.
The Tonda PF in 36 mm could also be a good choice for women. This once classic size for men is sure to fit many smaller wrists. The watch is the epitome of understatement. The fine craftsmanship and detail of its dial only reveal themselves up close. The sapphire crystal back provides a full view of the watch’s movement. The small movement doesn’t contain a micro-rotor, but rather a gold, skeletonized rotor. As is typical of Parmigiani Fleurier, all components are immaculately crafted. Exquisite and tasteful luxury – the Tonda PF is a world-class treasure that will look good on any wrist.
For me Parmigiani Fleurier is what we’re often looking for as watch lovers: a niche brand in the best sense. High quality and superior craftsmanship are paired with unique but wearable designs. The models aren’t eye-catchers, and they don’t want to be provocative. Rather, they’re striving for a peaceful revolution. Improved technology and new designs, all at a fair price. We’re very excited to see what innovations Parmigiani Fleurier will follow with in the coming years, and hoping that one thing stays the same – that all their watches are quiet statement pieces for true watch lovers.