The 4 Top-Notch Movements from Parmigiani Fleurier that Prove this Indie’s Watch

The 4 Top-Notch Movements from Parmigiani Fleurier that Prove this Indie’s Watchmaking Prowess

From perpetual calendars and dual-time travel watches to split-chronographs and exotic pantograph displays, this maison in Fleurier excels in crafting complicated yet irresistibly elegant timepieces.

By Henri Lee

Established in 1996 by the esteemed master watchmaker and restorer Michel Parmigiani, Parmigiani Fleurier is the rare independent watch brand that crafts its movements, dials, cases, and all other components in-house.

However, alongside producing its own timepieces, the maison also provides components to other watch brands. Only a few other independent watch brands are capable of this feat, namely Chopard, Kari Voutilainen, and F.P.Journe. That is some distinguished company.

In recent years, Parmigiani has also enjoyed a surging interest from watch collectors and enthusiasts, owing to its delightful and intriguing novelties, particularly the Tonda PF collection, which has had nine of its models selected as finalists in the 2022 and 2023 GPHG competitions.

Over 27 years, Michel Parmigiani and his team have developed over 30 in-house movements. So, to showcase Parmigiani’s unparalleled watchmaking expertise, today, we are spotlighting four of the brand’s significant calibres, encompassing manually wound, automatic with a micro-rotor, perpetual calendar, and split-seconds chronograph movements.

The PF111 & the Ovale Pantographe

The very first movement developed at Parmigiani Fleurier is the tonneau-shaped calibre PF110. A manually wound movement oscillating at 3Hz, the PF110 is beautifully decorated, featuring a “Côtes de Genève” pattern, beveled bridges, and circular graining, and boasts two barrels that offer an impressive eight days of power reserve, which is a remarkable feat even today.

Inspired by an English pocket watch from the 1800s with two retractable hands that Michel Parmigiani helped restore, the PF110 was adapted to create the calibre PF111 that powered the Pantographe model in the Ovale Collection, with the main difference between the two being an additional module on the PF111 for the Pantograph’s hands.

Why did the PF111 need a special module for the hands? Because the Ovale Pantograph’s hands are telescopic, meaning the hour and minute hands extend and retract as they rotate around the oval dial. It is an exotic and ingenious design!

The PF051 & the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante

Parmigiani excels in crafting exquisite travel watches featuring dual-time displays. Its Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde even clinched the top prize in the 2017 GPHG “Travel Time Watch” category.

Then, in 2022, Parmigiani once again captivated the watch world with its Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante. The design is simple yet elegant and boasts two hour hands: one hand made from 18K red gold for home time and another rhodium-treated gold hand for local time.

When not traveling, the red gold hand hides beneath the other, resembling a typical watch. However, upon reaching a destination, a pusher at the 8 o’clock position allows for easy adjustment of the local time, advancing the rhodium-treated hour hand with each press, thus revealing the red gold hand that indicates home time. Once home, a mere push of the crown realigns the local time hand with the home time hand.

Powering the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante is the PF051 movement, an automatic winding manufacture calibre featuring a micro-rotor in 22K rose gold adorned with Grain d’Orge guilloché. Like the PF111, this calibre is an adaptation of another movement, the ultra-thin PF703 automatic movement, and adding a module, which, this time, was a dual-time function.

However, accommodating this added function required the number of components to increase from 160 to 207, while the thickness expanded from 3.07mm to 4.90mm. Still, the PF051 exemplifies Parmigiani’s strategy of leveraging existing base movements to swiftly develop innovative complications, ensuring rapid time-to-market.

The PF333 & the Toric Retrograde Perpetual Calendar

There is only one modern watch brand offering an annual calendar, a perpetual calendar, a Chinese complete calendar, and a Muslim/Hijri calendar. That is Parmigiani Fleurier.

Suitable for daily wear, these calendar watches rank among the most complicated timepieces a watchmaker can attempt, with the number of movement components ranging from 350 to over 400, and need to be recognized as tremendous contributions to high horology. Still, it’s the PF333 perpetual calendar movement inside the Toric Quantieme Perpetual Rose Gold that really stands out due to its ingenious design, slim profile, and exquisite finishing.

Unlike typical perpetual calendar designs, there are no sub-dials cluttering the dial. Instead, the day and month are displayed in apertures in the middle of the dial, while a retrograde date display around the periphery makes it a breeze to read (especially when compared to a 31-day sub-dial). Plus, the intriguing moon phase indicator depicts the lunar cycles in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

At the heart of the PF333, the cam that moves the months is equipped with a planet gear that controls the variable number of days in February. The indicator for this device is released from the central wheel at the right point in time, jumping the date instantly to the first of the next month. This type of mechanism is highly complex to create, especially on the minute scale of a wristwatch.

The PF361 & the Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph

While some brands enlist celebrity ambassadors, Parmigiani boasts a high-profile client that money cannot buy: King Charles III. The King acquired a Toric chronograph in a gold case during a visit to a Swiss resort in the early 2000s and has been spotted wearing this timepiece on many significant public occasions.

However, the Calibre PF361 movement inside the 2021 Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph featured here is an even higher-end chronograph than the one Charles sported because, while a chronograph is often deemed by watchmakers as more challenging than a tourbillon, a split-seconds chronograph elevates the complexity to a whole new level.

The PF361 is an integrated calibre with all elements affixed to the main plate, without using any modules, and includes two column wheels and a vertical clutch. Furthermore, the movement operates at 5Hz, an incredible feat that enhances the chronograph’s accuracy, meaning the Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph, powered by PF361, can time two separate events and measure them to the tenth of a second.

Flipping the watch over, we encounter a manual-wind movement with a spectacular bridge layout and splendid finishing. The bridges and plate are crafted from sublime 18K rose gold and feature an openworked design that offers a view inside the movement.

Finally, its two column wheels emerge as the main feature of the movement, springing to life with each chronograph operation. The movement’s finish is simply exquisite, with every bevel and internal angle meticulously hand finished.

To learn more about Parmigiani Fleurier, check out the brand’s website.

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