A few months we tried something a little different. Instead of just your standard hands on watch review, we decided to pick a brand that makes high-end timepieces for both men and women – the brand was Girard-Perregaux for those of you who don’t remember the article – and highlight one watch for him and one watch for her that had really caught our fancy.
The idea of course was that you the reader may have been looking for a gift for that someone special in your life (which for some of you may in fact be yourself but hey, there’s absolutely no harm in wanting to get yourself a nice watch I always say!) Anyway, the point is the article was very well received and so given that holiday season is upon and the time of gift-giving nigh, it seemed like a good idea to do another one.
This time around we’ve chosen another high-end, although often underrated (in my opinion at least) Swiss watchmaker by the name of Parmigiani Fleurier, or just Parmigiani for short. Now don’t be surprised if that name is not so familiar to you, at just 18 years old Parmigiani is still very much a young brand – especially relative to the centuries old Ateliers that dominate the luxury watch industry – and as such is still establishing itself a serious player that’s going to be around for the decades to come.
That being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention what an achievement it is in this highly competitive industry to build a brand from scratch, earn the respect of your peers and be recognized as a maker of high quality, complicated timepieces. All without going bankrupt or succumbing to takeover offers from the much larger conglomerates that dominate this world. To do such a thing takes not only vision but also courage and fortunately Parmigiani’s founder, Michel Parmigiani, has both in equal measure.
With the support of the Sandoz Family Foundation as the brand’s principal, he used the skills acquired over a lifetime of restoring historically significant timepieces to build state of the art manufacturing facilities, enabling the brand over its relatively short history to introduce six collections featuring seventeen calibres developed in-house, including four world firsts. That’s more some than some of the more established brands have achieved in their lifetimes! And let’s not forget the gorgeous pieces of Haute Horologerie the brand has unveiled over the years, like the incredible Bugatti Supersport or the Tecnica Ombre Blanche. Suffice to say, these guys know what they’re doing.
Not everything Parmigiani do though is over the top complicated, in fact the brand has an excellent range of entry to mid-level pieces that suit a variety of tastes and budgets. We’ve picked out two for you today – one for him and one for her – to get you started.
Parmigiani Tonda Hemisphères Rose Gold
First up is the watch for him, the very masculine looking Tonda Hemisphères in rose gold. Presented in a nicely balanced 42mm case with something of an open-worked dial exposing the base-plate of the in-house movement beneath (more on that in a minute), the Tonda Hemisphères seemingly simplistic appearance underlies its rather advanced nature.
As you might have inferred from the name (or from looking at the dial), the watch features a dual time-zone display, each equipped with their own hour and minute hands (a handy added extra that is not as common as you might think) as well as separate day/night indicators for each time-zone, making it the perfect gift for the frequent traveller. Rounding things out are a small seconds display at 6 o’clock and a highly legible date display at 9 o’clock.
As you can see on the side of the case there are two crowns for setting the two different time-zones. Initially I was a bit concerned by this design as I thought it might make the watch a little less comfortable on the wrist but after trying it on for a while I didn’t notice any problems. Turning the Tonda Hemisphères over we get a nice view of the in-house, automatic PF337 movement which offers a 50-hour power reserve. The movement has been nicely finished – although not elaborately so – with “Côtes de Genève” decoration and also features bevelled bridges. Best of all there are a number of different variants of the Tonda Hemisphères to choose from in various metals and finishes, with prices ranging from around US$27,000 – $40,000.
Parmigiani Kalparisma Ombellia
For her we have the slightly less complex Kalparisma Ombellia, although you should not take that to mean it is any less desirable. In fact, one may make the argument that it is more so for one simple reason; it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind piece. An absolutely stunning piece in every sense of the word, the first thing you notice about the Kalparisma Ombellia is the fact that both the dial and the case are adorned with diamond-set flowers. Not only does this endow the piece with a sense of delicate femininity it also ensures all eyes in the room will be on the wrist of the wearer, especially in combination with the striking reddish-pink dial.
Presented in a tonneau-shaped white gold case, the Kalparisma Ombellia is also powered by an in-house automatic movement; the Calibre PF 331. What I like best though when looking at this watch is how the shapely curves of the case ensure it hugs even the most delicate of wrists snugly, guaranteeing not only a comfortable fit but also an elegant one. The price for the Kalparisma Ombellia is $52,900.