Which watch brand won 2022? Borna picks Parmigiani Fleurier – here’s why…Borna Bošnjak
Editor’s note: During one of our final editorial meetings of the year, the question was posed: which watch brand won 2022? This then raises the question of what it means to win. Is it total revenue? Likes on social media? Page views on our site? The number of watch spots in the wild? There is no one way to answer, so each team member was tasked with picking their watch brand and making the case. Borna reveals his selection is Parmigiani Fleurier, and here is why…
Exhibit A: Change in leadership
Parmigiani has been making incredible watches ever since their founding 25 years ago. Just think of the many unique complications the brand has produced over the years. There’s the Ovale Pantographe with its telescopic hands, the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon – at the time the thinnest ever – and the Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar, the first wristwatch to depict the Islamic calendar.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that Parmigiani Fleurier’s creations began attracting the attention their craftsmanship deserved. This was largely thanks to Guido Terreni, ex-managing director of Bulgari, and one of the people responsible for the success of the Octo Finissimo line. By tightening up Parmigiani’s offering, refining it and giving it a much stronger identity and brand image, Terreni’s leadership allowed the skills of the Fleurier manufacture to shine in the best light possible.
The relationship swiftly bore fruit with the 2021 release of the Tonda PF line. Minimal in its design, it’s the ideal definition of stealth wealth, especially if you consider one of the steel and platinum models.
Exhibit B: Focused collection refresh
Nearly re-born with their 2022 releases, Parmigiani Fleurier managed to add novelties in every section of their catalogue. The simple Tonda PF was a great starting point for the genuis of the new GMT, which uses a rattrapante-derived mechanism for the operation of the GMT hand, while managing to stay (relatively) affordable. Not only is the idea excellent, but so is the execution. I’ve never handled a watch that operates so smoothly and satisfyingly – the GMT hand glides into position, rather than snaps back. It’s quite incredible.
The rest of the offering is nothing to scoff at either, and considers all sorts of Parmigiani customer. The Tonda GT line retains pre-Terreni branding and updates the design cues of the Parmigiani Fleurier of old. Decidedly sportier in its design, the chronograph offerings have an equally wonderful degree of finishing to their high-beat movements, and are priced extremely competitively when compared to holy trinity rivals.
Moving towards the high end of the high end, it becomes clear that Parmigiani is targeting a particular niche which, despite the for most unobtainable retail prices, has become exceedingly choked by unrealistic waiting lists and lack of availability. For the likes of the Tonda PF Skeleton, as well as many other members of the Tonda PF line, that is becoming the unfortunate reality as well. However, it just portrays how a brand with a confusing identity and general lack of mainstream desirability despite great craftsmanship, can turn things around, given the right direction from its leadership.
More recently, the brand also expanded their unisex offering with the 36mm Tonda PF models, echoing Mr Terreni’s observations of the importance of the women’s market. Thankfully, Parmigiani Fleurier didn’t just paint the dial pink and slap on a bunch of diamonds, which many brands are guilty of. The gorgeous lines of their new lug designs have been kept, same with the barleycorn guilloché dials and further simplified by the exclusion of a date. If you ask me, the Tonda PF Silver Sand is a contender for watch of the year, and I’m not the only fan of this 36mm offering, as the gorgeous grape-dialled rose gold variant won the Ladies’ category at the 2022 edition of the GPHG.
Exhibit C: The special models are special
While the entirety of Parmigiani Fleurier’s offering is targeting the high end, they’ve masterfully separated the crown jewels of their collections from the rest. Hewn from platinum, with an ultra-thin micro-rotor flying tourbillon movement – a spiritual successor to the 1950 Tourbillon – the Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon is brilliantly unassuming.
Hailing from a background of restoration, the brand also doesn’t lose sight of the illustrious career of their founder, Michel Parmigiani. Following up on the 2021 release of the wonderfully restored Rose Carrée pocket watch, Parmigiani closed off the year with the next addition to the collection. Featuring cathedral gongs and extensive skeletonisation, La Rosa Celeste’s engraved and enamelled white-gold case is worthy of its piece unique status.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, Parmigiani kicked off 2023 with a bang, releasing the burgundy wonder that is the Tonda PF Xiali Calendar. Combining solar and lunar calendars, the years repeat every 60 years, but depend on astronomical observations. This makes a Xiali perpetual calendar impossible, though Parmigiani Fleurier’s effort is as close as it gets. Combine this incredible release with the renaissance of 2022, and it becomes obvious we’ve much to look forward to when it comes to Parmigiani.