While for most Australians the name Parmigiani would be associated with classic pub meals, it turns out that Parmigiani Fleurier isn’t an exotic schnitzel, but rather a top notch independent watch manufacture.
You may not of heard of them because they’re a pretty boutique outfit, and fairly young in the world of multigenerational watch brands (they were founded in 1996 by the Sandoz foundation). But this only makes the watches they make more impressive.
We were invited by The Hour Glass (the Australian Parmigiani Fleurier authorized dealer) to get up close and personal with the watches and find out a little more about what makes the brand tick.
Broadly speaking the style of Parmigiani watches is an interesting blend of the classic and the contemporary. Many of the watches familiar shapes and styles, such as round dress pieces, large tournau shapes and sporty chronographs, but the case designs and dials are executed with a very distinctive flair, which is a refreshing change in an industry that can be very conservative and averse to taking risks with design.
What allows Parmigiani Fleurier to pull this off is that along with their unique (and sometimes downright quirky) watches, the craftsmanship is top notch. Movements are made in the Sandoz owned Vaucher Manufacture (they also make watches for other brands, such as Hermes – which explains why Parmigiani are the only brand that come with Hermes straps as standard). The movement finishing is superb, with intricate bridge architecture full of cloudlike curves – beautiful stuff. Overall Parmigiani also excel at dial work, you can see the great guilloche on the ladies Kalpa and the automotive grill inspired dial on the Kalpa XL Hebdomadaire.
The small part of the collection I saw is diverse, from elegant dress pieces to blingy divers, with a solid focus on watches for ladies pieces. My favourite is easily the simple Tonda 1950 – a dressy watch, but in a case design that seperates it from the pack. The retail price of the Tonda 1950 in white or red gold is $21,400 AUD – which is big boy league for a gold time only dress watch.
Speaking of price, Parmigiani is up there, competing with stiff competition like Patek and Vacheron Constantin. This isn’t completely outrageous given the manufacture movements and general quality of finish, but it’s a hard space to play in. Parmigiani’s point of difference is that while they’re high quality timepieces, the designs have a little more whimsy and quirk in them than some of their competitors. If you’re a seasoned buyer and looking for something a little unusual and individual – these guys might be for you.
My one concern about these watches, which certainly aren’t for everyone (but if you like this kind of thing – you’ll like them a lot), is that the collections and model names are perhaps a little too unfamiliar for an Australian audience. Hopefully that changes, as the watches of Parmigiani Fleurier are top notch horology and deserve some more time in the Australian sun.
Find out more about Parmigiani Fleurier here.
Time+Tide were guests of The Hour Glass in Sydney.