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In the 1970s, Michel Parmigiani began restoring watches, making his breakthrough after working on an important clock for the Sandoz Family Foundation—a feat previously deemed impossible by restorers who had failed before him to do so. Since launching his eponymous watchmaking brand in 1996, Parmigiani has kept restoration very much in mind when designing, all the while launching models inspired by the past lives of clocks and their movements, as well as by architecture, nature, and his favorite topic—the golden ratio. The new Toric collection includes the debut of Toric Chronomètre. Its four models draw inspiration from Parmigiani’s first timepiece, which was designed the year of the brand’s founding. In white gold, and rose gold, and with two dials—a white grain finish and a black opaline one—the collection offers a strong sense of the watchmaker’s identity, finding inspiration in architecture and nature.
WHITEWALL: What were the most important aspects from your first design that you had to show in the Toric collection?
MICHEL PARMIGIANI: When you look at the bezel, it is definitely the identity of the first watch—based on the Doric columns from Greece. That is a main aspect. We also have in-house movements for this watch, which of course respects the high-quality value and criteria that we want to put into all of our watches. All complements are decorated with angles, and it’s 99 percent made in-house—from our manufacture—except the strap that comes from Hermès. As long as we have gold casing, it’s an Hermès strap. We are the only manufacture that has this partnership with Hermès.
There is Parmigiani Fleurier, which is the brand, but we also developed all of the industrial tools with our personal watchmaking center for the movements. Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF) assists with movement creations and overall development (with 25 percent is owned by La Montre Hermès—so we are very close to the brand), Les Artisans Boîtiers (LAB) handles the case, Elwin deals with the very small components, like the screws, and Atokalpa helps with regulating the organ and wheels.
But we’ve developed a very close relationship with Hermès. We share the same values as Hermès in terms of quality, so we really enjoy their strap.
WW: Apart from the new collection, the brand also released two new models. Tell us about those.
MP: We have a Tonda 1950 Moon phase, and the same one without the moon phase—the Tonda 150 Steel. The difference with the previous collection is that now it is in stainless steel, which also gives us a more affordable price for a larger audience. The development of this movement was quite hard and long because there is a micro-rotor in tungsten, so it is also thin, but heavy enough to work and to rewind the watch.
And the tourbillon, which is more complicated. We are the only one to have this complication because it’s a 60-second tourbillon, so in one second it turns twice. It’s also very hard to have central seconds together with the tourbillon. On top of that, we wanted to complicate it more with the integration of the power reserve. It took about three years to develop. The first automatic movement took us five years to develop. We are very different than the other Swiss manufacturers in the sense that we are 21 years old and we have already developed 33 movements. We have crazy ideas, but we can apply it very quickly with the industrial tools—the team is there.
WW: The brand also celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Tell us about the watch that debuted in celebration for it—the Integrated Chronor Anniversary piece.
MP: It featured a solid gold movement, similar to the Ovale Pantographe. The truly special thing about it was the integrated chronograph complete in-house. There’s only a handful of brands that have been able to integrate it because it is so complicated. So the integrated chronograph is sort of a benchmark that a lot of brands go to, and most of them won’t achieve it until maybe 100 years. For Parmigiani Fleurier, it was really special to be able to say, “We are 20 years old, and we’ve already achieved this.”