Parmigiani Fleurier celebrated the 70th birthday of master watchmaker Michel Parmigiani. With the occasion, the brand launched a seventy pieces limited series of Toric in steel. The Parmigiani Toric Héritage honours the great watchmaker and the DNA of the brand. This article presents a short bio of M. Parmigiani and the beauty of the Toric anniversary piece.
Michel Parmigiani (part of the official press release)
Born in 1950 in the Swiss canton of Neuchatel, Michel Parmigiani grew up with an avid devotion to both watchmaking and architecture, two disciplines that combine technicality and artistry. Horology would ultimately win out as the young man’s chosen career path. Studying and honing his skills at the Val-de-Travers watchmaking school at La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum in Switzerland, Michel began a career in timepiece restoration, a field reserved only for the most highly skilled horological craftsmen.
In 1976, the watch industry’s Quartz Crisis was in full swing, threatening to consign the mechanical watches and clocks, so beloved by Michel Parmigiani, to the dustbin of history. Always the iconoclast, Michel nevertheless swam against the encroaching tide of inexpensive battery-powered timepieces from Asia, establishing his own restoration workshop. His bold move bore fruit as an elite list of haute horlogerie clients made him their go-to restorer for the most difficult jobs, such as salvaging priceless mechanical marvels from the Patek Philippe museum and bringing legendary pieces- like Breguet’s Sympathique Clock- back to life.
In restoring such timekeepers, Michel was putting into practice the accumulated knowledge and savoir faire of hundreds of years of mechanical watchmaking, while at the same time gaining admiration for the uncompromising craftsmanship and devotion to detail of those watchmakers who came before him — many of them tracing their lineage to the Swiss town of Fleurier where he had set up shop.
“I remember feeling a bit like a pariah, starting this adventure against all advice,” Michel recalls of those early days. “Restoring antique timepieces saved me from nihilism. Working, as I was during this period, on so many wonders from times gone by, made the idea that traditional watchmaking might disappear absolutely unthinkable to me. Restoration gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my watchmaking dreams, despite the naysayers.”
Among the clients who came to Michel for restoration and maintenance was Switzerland’s Sandoz Family Foundation, which owned a significant collection of historical automata and clocks. As Michel’s tremendous talent and boundless creativity became clear, the Foundation encouraged him to create his own watch brand with their full support. This was the beginning of Parmigiani Fleurier, which launched in 1996. In the ensuing years, both the brand and its industrial independence have grown exponentially.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Watchmaking Hub now encompasses five specialized Swiss firms that ensure that each step of every Parmigiani Fleurier timepiece’s creation is executed in-house. Each of the five factories also produces parts for other haute horlogerie clients, including La Montre Hermès, the watchmaking division of the celebrated French leather goods house, which is a co-owner of the Vaucher movement manufacturer.
But it is only Parmigiani Fleurier who avails itself of all five companies for the entire watchmaking process. As one of the very few living watchmakers still leading and creatively guiding the watch brand they founded, Michel continues to follow trails blazed by the likes of Abraham-Louis Breguet and other pioneers of horology. Meticulous control of every step of production, from design to final assembly, ensures that the timepieces that bear his name are truly the product of his values and vision.
Review Parmigiani Toric Héritage
Now part of the brand’s signature and DNA, Toric was the first watch case designed by master Parmigiani. His intention was to pay a homage to the watchmaking purity: exceptional engineering and lavish decorations.
Tonda case, in steel
Parmigiani Toric Héritage, as many other Parmigiani Fleurier creations, is inspired and respects Golden Ration and the Fibonacci sequence. The case manufactured in steel measures 42.8mm in diameter and has a thickness of 10mm
Mysteriously harmonious as well as rigorously mathematical, the Golden Ratio is often seen in art such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Mondrian’s Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue, and in iconic architecture such as Egypt’s Great Pyramids. – Excerpt from the official press release
Parmigiani Toric Héritage case, in polished steel, takes its inspiration from ancient Greek columns and from a pointed shell Michel found on a beach in Malaysia, with hand-done knurling and doubly alternating gadroons embellishing its curved contours, creating an optical illusion of great delicacy. Every aspect of the watch design is rooted in this ancient rule- the relationship between the hands, the fluted angles in the crown, the length to width ratios, the rate of curvature of the lugs as they taper away from the case, even the case-back design and placement of the sapphire crystal. – excerpt from the official press release
With all details in mind, there is no wonder why one can find this watch nothing less than fascinating. If you like the appearance of this watch and you don’t understand really why, these are the reasons. Our brain is trained to recognise these curves as perfection. Knowing the simple rule of the Golden Ration is nothing. How to implement this in a real product is the real struggle. This the genius of Michel Parmigiani – understanding and transposing numbers into a work of art, horological art.
Time and date display – simple but complicated, complicated but simple
The Toric Héritage dial is another example of why makes Parmigiani Fleurier Maison special. Deep-rooted in the brand’s DNA, the elegance of the time display is unquestionable. Three hands and a date aperture – nothing more simple than that. But this is exploited to the max with simple elements. The elements, on the other hand, requires exceptional expertise and techniques. Characteristics that Parmigiani Fleurier undoubtedly owns.
Another element on which Michel Parmigiani follows the natural organic concept is the Grain d’Orge guilloché, in blue. This organic pattern, derived from the sprouting of barley, is inspired by one of the many examples of the presence in the natural world of the Fibonacci sequence – excerpt from the official press release.
The date is revealed on the lower side of the dial via a curved aperture. Note the richness of details implied.
The hours’ indexes are represented in a graceful Hindu-Arabic font. These are manufactures in 18k white gold and coated in rhodium and hands-applied. The time is displayed by the Toric’s signature open-worked javelin hands.
The dial features a subtle outer register that eases the readout of minutes and seconds. The name of the brand is present on the upper part of the dial with volumetric lettering. The lower side of the dial holds an embossed plate with the printed number of the limited series x/70.
The dazzling Calibre PF441
The beauty of the Parmigiani Toric Héritage does not stop on the face of the dial. The see-through caseback reveals the gorgeous Calibre PF441. This in-house movement received the extensive decoration treatment of the Maison Parmigiani.
The first striking element is the 22-carat solid gold rotor weight with Grain d’Orge guilloché engraving and PF insignia that winds the double barrel configuration. The Calibre PF441 offers a 55 hours power reserve.
This movement uses a variable inertia balance wheel. The escapement is tacted at 4Hz. The calibre PF441 has long term stability, greater shock resistance, and much less sensitivity to the watch wearing position for optimal isochronism.
The decorations are exceptional: Côtes de Genève stripes, polished angles, circular-graining, spiral-wound and hand beveling. I am particularly mesmerised by the double stripes present on the movement. The back view is spectacular.
Parmigiani Toric Héritage is a gentleman’s delight
The Toric Héritage is a watch for the discerned gentleman. The watch is an eye-pleasing appearance. Moreover, it is wearing smaller as expected. The watch surrounds comfortable the wrist. Due to its non-precious metal construction, the Parmigiani Toric Héritage is made to be enjoyed daily, or in close rotation.
Parmigiani Toric Héritage Technical Specifications and Price
- Hours, minutes
- Calibre PF441
- Winding: Automatic
- Total dimensions: 11 ½”’ Ø 25.6 mm
- Thickness: 3.7 mm
- Frequency: 4 Hz 28800 A/h
- Power-reserve: 55 hours
- Nb of components: 192
- Nb of jewels: 29
- Dimensions Ø 42.8 mm
- Thickness 10 mm
- Material Stainless steel
- Water-resistance 30 m
- Back Sapphire
- Glass Anti-reflective sapphire
- Colour Blue
- Index Rhodium plated
- Finishing “Guilloché Grain d’orge”
- Hands Javelin-shaped with luminescent coating
Strap & Bracelet
- Brand Hermès
- Material Alligator
- Colour Black
- Type Comfort Folding Clasp
- Material Stainless steel
- € 17’700
Michel Parmigiani Biography
- 2nd December 1950:
Michel Parmigiani is born in Couvet (Switzerland) in Val-de-Travers.
- 1966 – 1969:
Michel Parmigiani begins his studies at the Fleurier school of watchmaking.
- 1969 – 1971:
Michel continues training at La Chaux-de-Fonds’ Technicum, followed by studies at Le Locle Technicum in micromechanical construction.
- 1973 – 1975:
Michel becomes Technical assistant at Juvenia
Michel establishes his first workshop in Couvet.
Michel becomes the official restorer for the Sandoz Family Foundation.
Development of an extra-flat perpetual calendar for a pocket watch.
Development of a constant-force instantaneous perpetual calendar clock with 8 days power reserve.
- September 1990:
Birth of Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps.
Michel creates Calibre 90, an automatic pocket watch for Breguet.
Breguet’s “Pendule Sympathique” restoration.
Invention of and patent registration for the thirty-year continuous calendar clock concept.
- 21 March 1995:
Michel receives the GAIA award for entrepreneurship.
Development of a pivoted detent escapement for chronometry.
The Sandoz Family Foundation and Michel Parmigiani partner to create Parmigiani Fleurier.
Restoration of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Planétarium.
Restoration of Breguet’s portico clock, ordered by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte for her husband, Prince Anatole Demidov. Paris Museum of Decorative Arts collection.
- November 2010:
Creation of the world’s first table clock with Hijri continuous lunar calendar.
- February 2012:
Michel is made “Citizen of Honour” of the Val-de-Travers municipality.
Parmigiani Fleurier celebrates its 20-year anniversary and launches the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, a technological feat as their first integrated chronograph.
Parmigiani Fleurier receives the Travel and Chronograph Awards at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie for its Toric Hémisphère Rétrograde and Tonda Chronor Anniversaire.
Launch of the Bugatti Type 390, the world’s first movement with a triangular barrel coupling system.
- December 2019:
World’s first Hijri Perpetual Calendar wristwatch.
- November 2020:
Parmigiani Fleurier receives the Innovation Award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie for its Hijri Perpetual Calendar.