Parmigiani Fleurier is an independent brand that can be described as a manufacturer that goes beyond surface appearances. Often only talked about within enthusiast circles, the brand has garnered a reputation as somewhat of an underdog in the realm of independent watchmaking. Before its eventual establishment in 1996, Michel Parmigiani, operated a small Mesure et Art du Temps (restoration workshop) in Couvet, Switzerland, where he was renowned for his expertise in the art of timepiece restoration. As time went on, Michel began crafting unique watches for clients, and the Parmigiani restoration workshop became a training ground for some of the most accomplished and highly regarded independent watchmakers who have since made their mark in the industry. Most notably, Kari Voutilainen, Stepan Sarpaneva and Raúl Pagès.
Today, Parmigiani Fleurier has garnered recognition as one of the most extensively vertically integrated watch manufacturers globally. Its facilities have assumed a crucial role within the Swiss watch industry's supply chain due to its extensive involvement in the production of various essential components for watch manufacturing/production, including balance springs, movements and more. Additionally, the brand's expertise extends to the restoration of historically significant clocks and timepieces from around the world. These are a few of Michel Parmigiani’s many achievements which have contributed to his recognition as one of the pioneers of the industry, earning him the moniker as one of the "fathers" of independent watchmaking.
The neo-vintage timepiece being offered today is a first-generation Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Automatic crafted in 18-carat rose gold. It is a slightly later iteration of the Toric Memory Time. For those who do not know, the Toric Memory Time is somewhat of a pivotal and keystone design for the brand, symbolizing Parmigiani Fleurier's inaugural timepiece and showcasing the technical savoir-faire of Michel Parmigiani at the time. Similar to the reference on offer today, the Toric Memory Time bears a complex case design reminiscent of the curvature of a seashell when viewed from a specific angle. In an interview, Michel said he discovered this during a stroll on a beach in Malaysia and had since wanted to bring this optical illusion to life via his first official Parmigiani Fleurier design.
It should also be mentioned that the Toric collection hails from the remarkable '90s era, which witnessed the introduction of renowned and influential timepieces, including notable examples like those by Daniel Roth, that have left a lasting impact on the industry in the decades that followed.
Starting with the case design of the Toric Automatic, Parmigiani Fleurier’s cases are all designed in accordance with the Golden Ratio. As you may have noticed, their watches across the board have sharp but balanced case designs with very few straight lines, and especially evident with the Toric Automatic’s 40mm rose gold case. At first glance, the case may seem simple and straightforward, but closer examination would reveal a plethora of intricate details and subtleties. The rose gold case stands out with its double-stepped bezel, adding a touch of vintage charm that evokes the art deco era. When viewed from a distance, the case exudes a lavish and ornamental flair, which draws inspiration from Greek Doric columns — an architectural element from ancient Greece that represents one of the five orders of classical architecture. Moreover, when observed at an angle, the bezel reveals the exact optical illusion (as mentioned earlier) Michel Parmigiani wanted to capture in his inaugural design.
The dial of the Toric timepiece is no slouch either. It showcases a captivating guilloché grain d’orge (barleycorn) pattern, complemented by a brushed gold ring that houses the Roman numerals and contrasting white dots which mark the minutes-track along the periphery. Positioned at 6 o'clock, there is an oval ring that proudly displays the Parmigiani Fleurier brand signature. Completing the dial are javelin-styled hands and a thermally-blued seconds hand, adding a touch of elegance and a nice little contrast to the overall aesthetic.
The Toric Automatic is equipped with a 25-jewelled, self-winding Cal. 13301. This remarkable movement boasts a date complication and a power reserve of 38 hours. Encased within the exhibition sapphire caseback, the Cal. 13301 also exhibits exquisite Côtes de Genève decoration and is meticulously finished to an exceptionally high standard by Parmigiani Fleurier. A noteworthy feature of the movement is its 22-carat rose gold rotor, elegantly embellished with the PF signature at its centre.
What can I say? The Toric Automatic is undeniably an extraordinary and charming timepiece. The seamless fusion of traditional elements with modern touches and subtle nuances here is a testament to the creative brilliance of Michel Parmigiani, resulting in a sophisticated design that truly comes to life when viewed and handled in person. Ultimately, the Toric Automatic presents an overall aesthetic that is truly unparalleled, particularly within its era.