King Charles’ killer eye for style also extends to his watchesLuke Benedictus
Many moons ago, I was getting a made-to-measure suit from a tailor in Sydney called Patrick Johnson, who was just launching his business that’s since become very successful. Patrick has since moved premises multiple times, but in that early fitting room, one entire wall was devoted to framed photographs of Prince Charles or, as it now seems slightly weird to call him, King Charles. It was then that I realised that for fans of very dapper, anglophile tailoring, Charles constitutes an unlikely poster-boy. Indeed, he’s lauded by the fashion press as a bona fide “style icon”.
There are two main reason for this reputation. Firstly, Charles knows what he likes and he sticks to it. Rather than get buffeted about by the fickle winds of fashion, he persevered with double-breasted jackets until the pendulum swung back in his favour. Similarly, he wears his ties in a distinctive way with an aggressively narrow knot that’s become his trademark look. This is a man who dances to his own sartorial tune.
Secondly, the King of England is a details fanatic when it comes to his appearance – the rumour is that his valet even irons his shoelaces. This fastidious nature was remarked upon by the actor Josh O’Connor who played him in The Crown and subsequently had to study Charles’ mannerisms at length. “Whenever he gets out of a car he checks his cufflink, checks his pocket and then waves,” O’Connor said. “The same movement every time.”
So what sort of watch is deemed fit for a King? Well, over the years, Charles has been spotted in a variety of brands from Jaeger-LeCoutre to Patek Philippe. But his go-to timepiece is slightly idiosyncratic and once again demonstrates that he’s got the eye of a true connoisseur.
Since 2015, Charles is invariably seen wearing an 18-carat gold automatic Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph. It’s not just his everyday watch but his special occasion piece, too. He wore it to his coronation and to Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding, too.
Charles apparently picked up the watch himself at Parmigiani’s retailer in Klosters, Switzerland, the royal family’s favoured ski resort for many years. As chronographs go, the 39mm watch is decidedly dressy with its blued hands, Roman numerals and ridged double bezel. A quirky detail lies with the date window that’s smuggled in between 1 and 2 o’clock.
Today, Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand that watch nerds love. But that recognition is recently won and really arrived when Guido Terreni – the former managing director of Bulgari who masterminded the Octo Finissimo line – took the helm. More specifically, it was the release of the masterfully understated Tonda PF line in 2021 that got everyone purring. “Minimal in design, it’s the ideal definition of stealth wealth,” Borna explained here in an article that declared Parmigiani to be the brand that won 2022.
Charles, however, was an early adopter of Parmigiani, once again showing his keen eye for style. Heavy may be the head that weighs the crown, but his wristwear must offer some consolation.