Parmigiani Fleurier remains one of the best kept secrets. Founded by Michel Parmigiani in 1996 with the financial backing of the Sandoz Family Foundation, the brand is one of a few that produces most components rather than outsourcing. Due to their underrated nature, they don't come up for sale on the secondary market often. These pre-owned examples often come in at a staggering value when compared to offerings from their more mass-market counterparts.
We've been keeping an eye out, and are doing our best to keep at least a small handful of men's and women's Parmigiani Fleurier watches in our shop and ready to buy at all times. One of the things many will appreciate about Parmigiani is that though they're not especially common, they are still a well-established brand with a comprehensive dealer network around the world. Should any service concerns arise, they are easy to reach and are able and ready to support, unlike many other smaller independent brands out there.
Aside from their sapphire crystals and their supple leather straps, just about every little piece inside their watches comes from manufacturing facilities that they own. Their movement manufacture (Vaucher Fleurier) is also responsible for producing high level movements and components for a number of heavy hitters in the industry, including some work for Richard Mille. Their dial making facility also offers its services for a range of brands, and though we can’t name names, let's just say that if you're a fan of German watches, you’ve probably seen their work. Fun fact, their leather watch straps (some of the nicest out there, FYI) are actually produced for them by Hermes.
Overall the Parmigiani Fleurier's offerings are quite diverse, ranging from casual chronographs to more conservative and dressy three-hand and dual time models, all beautifully finished in their own right. Over the years, the brand has received several awards for their watchmaking prowess, including two GPHG award wins in 2017 for both the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, and the Toric Hemispheres Retrograde. The Chronor Anniversaire was Michel Parmigiani's first integrated chronograph caliber, complete with a split seconds and large date complication. In terms of both elegance and complexity, it is effectively the holy grail of Parmigiani Fleurier lineup, however even the brand’s more ‘simple’ chronograph calibers would be a smart buy.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s history began in the 1970s during the height of the Quartz Crisis, which saw a significant shift from mechanical to Quartz-powered watches. It was during this time that watchmaker Michel Parmigiani opened a workshop that specialized in restoring vintage timepieces. Not long after he opened up shop, Parmigiani earned the business of some of the luxury watch industry's most well-known names, such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
A not very well-known, yet significant customer, was the Sandoz Family Foundation, who entrusted Parmigiani to fix their considerably large collection of clocks. Parmigiani's partnership with the foundation proved to be very fruitful as they would go on to not only encourage Parmigiani to establish his own watch brand in 1996 but to fund it as well. The name Fleurier hails from the Swiss town in which the Parmigiani brand's primary operations are located.
The Toric QP Retrograde was the brand's very first model, followed shortly by the Kalpa Hebdomadaire. Both models serve as the foundation of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand and remain in production today. Many avid collectors recognize the Toric QP Retrograde for its elaborate bezel, while the Kalpa Hebdomadaire is most well-known for its tonneau-shaped case.
Unlike many watch companies, Parmigiani produces 90% of their parts in-house, thanks in large part to the Sandoz Family Foundation's financial contribution. The foundation purchased several watch part making companies, including movement makers Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, case makers Les Artisans, and dial makers Quadrance et Habillage, just to name a few. According to those who are in-the-know, Parmigiani Fleurier only outsources their sapphire crystals and certain straps, keeping a majority of the production process within the company's umbrella of proprietary operations. The company’s smaller scale also allows the brand to produce watch parts for other well-known Swiss watchmaking companies.
In the relatively short amount of time that Parmigiani has been in business, they have managed to release a diverse range of watches that vary in function, design, and price. From a genius start-up model that affords the company to produce most of their parts in-house to an eclectic selection of wristwatches, there is no doubt that the brand has a bright future in the Swiss watchmaking industry.
While Parmigiani Fleurier has only been producing watches since the mid 1990s, their collection is varied and includes automatic, manual, and quartz movements that vary in complexity of function, size, and shape, while some are crafted from precious metals and adorned with diamonds.
The very first watch produced by Parmigiani Fleurier was the Toric, which draws inspiration for its design from ancient Greek architecture. Its design is truly timeless and includes a sophisticated round case framed by a beautifully textured bezel. Its elevated style is what sets the Toric apart from other models in the brand's collection and makes it such a successful watch. Today, the Toric collection includes the following editions: The Toric Chronometre, Toric Hemispheres Retrograde, and Toric Qualite Fleurier.
The Kalpa is another founding model of the Parmigiani brand. Its most well-known feature is its stunning tonneau-shaped case, which is characterized by a rectangular barrel shape. Today, the collection boasts a variety of functions, from time-only movements to chronographs, and includes either ladies' or men's case sizes. The women's collection consists of the Kalparisma, Kalpa Donna, and Kalpa Piccola. The men's collection includes the Kalpa Kalpagraphe, Kalpa Qualite Fleurier, Kalpa Tourbillon, and Kalpa Hebdomadaire, among many others.
Named after its signature round shape, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda is, perhaps, one of the most versatile models in the Parmigiani collection. It boasts a myriad of features that range from diamond-encrusted bezels and dials to all-steel watches with a stainless steel case and bracelet. No matter what your preference is, there is bound to be a Tonda that will suit your wrist.
Some of the Tonda's most notable variations include the Tonda 1950 Lune with a gorgeous moon phase display, the Tonda 1950 with a dial that is stunning in its simplicity, and the Tonda Hemispheres with dual time capabilities and unique sub-dial placement.
Parmigiani partnered with the iconic automotive company to release the stunning Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti in 2004. Equal parts motorsport tool watch and luxury timepiece, the Bugatti is one of Parmigiani's most innovative watches ever produced. Many aspects of its design mirror that of the Bugatti Aérolithe Supercar, giving it a unique aesthetic that is unlike any other watch in the brand's catalog. Currently, the collection is available on a handful of different Hermès leather straps and is presented in either stainless steel or stainless steel and white gold.
Parmigiani Fleurier has made quite a name for itself since coming to market two decades ago and has expanded to offer a wristwatch to suit almost any preference. The Kalpa is one of the brand's most extensive models, that now offers both men's and women's sizes. Below is the current retail price for a few of their most notable models.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Kalpagraphe showcases the collection's signature tonneau-shaped case and is powered by a 68-jewel cal. PPF334 self-winding movement with a 50-hour power reserve. The line is waterproof up to 30 meters and is currently produced in either rose gold or stainless steel. Retail prices range from $18k for the stainless steel and leather strap option and upwards of $50k for the rose gold and diamond-encrusted variation.
The Kalpa Qualite Fleurier enjoys a more straightforward design ethos than the Kalpagraphe and runs on a cal. PF442 self-winding movement with central hour, minute, and seconds hands and a date mechanism prominently displayed at the 12 o'clock position. Its sophisticated design includes a stunning 18 karat rose gold finish, either a black or white "Tresse" guilloche and opalin dial, and a Hermès leather bracelet. At retail, the Qualite commands a price tag of around $23,500.
The current Parmigiani Hebdomadaire pays tribute to the original model that was released during the early years of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand. The model is available in 18 karat rose gold and boasts dimensions that measure 42.3 x 32.1 mm and just 11.4 mm thick. At the heart of the Hebdomadaire beats a manual-winding calibre PF110 movement with a convenient 8-Day power reserve. The newer model currently retails for just under $34k.
Parmigiani Fleurier expanded its collection to include women's watches in 2006 via the Kalpa Donna. The line is the epitome of elegant watch design and consists of a mesmerizing Sunburst Guilloche dial, diamond accents, and a feminine 34.8 x 24.8 mm case size. The Kalpa Donna is powered by a quartz movement and is among Parmigiani's least expensive watches with a retail price of just over $10k.
The lady's collection also includes the Kalparisma, which runs on an automatic movement and retails for anywhere between $9,700 and $37,400, depending on the exact configuration, along with the Kalpa Piccola, which utilizes a quartz movement, and retails for anywhere between just over $10k and $89,000. The lady's range from Parmigiani is incredibly varied. Depending on your budget, there is likely to be an edition that will appeal to you.
In just a little over twenty years, the Parmigiani brand has earned itself a place among the world's most expensive and luxurious watch companies. However, in recent years, they have branched out to offer a slightly more budget-friendly option that will appeal to a broader range of collectors via the Tonda Metrographe. The collection is contemporary and a bit quirky in its overall design, and will appeal to anyone who seeks an "entry-level" offering from this top-tier manufacturer.
The Tonda Metrographe was released in 2014 and is available primarily in stainless steel with some 18 karat rose gold options also included in the brand's catalog. The bezel is smooth, unlike chronographs produced by other watchmaking companies, and is not adorned with a Tachymeter bezel. Some options display a Tachymeter scale around the perimeter of the dial; however, the bezel is always smooth, giving it a dressier and slightly more sophisticated aesthetic.
The Tonda Metrographe also includes a traditional 40mm case with a thickness of just under 12mm. The case is waterproof up to 30 meters and is protected by an anti-reflective and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for a reliable reading during most activities. The case is presented on either a Hermès leather strap or a stainless steel and titanium bracelet, and features oversized lugs with sharp curves. The chronograph pushers are integrated into the lugs themselves, a signature design element that has become emblematic of the watch.
While the dial is topped with the usual chronograph registers, the Metrographe sets itself apart from other brands by joining the minute and hour registers together to form a distinct "8", which is emphasized on certain variations with luminous material in the 8 outline. A date mechanism is also present on the dial and is displayed at the bottom of the hour sub-dial at the 6 o'clock position.
A cal. PF315 is the powerhouse behind the Metrographe, which pairs in-house components with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. Its beats at a rate of 28,800 bph and offers a standard power reserve of 42 hours. The exquisite craftsmanship of the movement is visible through the exhibition case back, making the Metrographe an intriguing watch to examine and wear.
The Tonda Metrographe price varies, depending on the edition chosen. Stainless steel options on a metal bracelet retail for just over $12k, while the 18 karat rose gold version on a leather strap retails just over $29k.