From Restoration to Creation
Michel Parmigiani is widely recognised as one of the foremost restorers of vintage clocks and watches. In 1976, in the midst of the Quartz Crisis, he opened his own workshop, where he most notably brought back to life several pieces which now sit in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, building his appreciation and understanding for traditional watchmaking. Interestingly, it was in the Parmigiani workshop that Kari Voutilainen first began his own watchmaking journey, restoring vintage masterpieces for nearly ten years, from 1990 to 1999. It was there that he learnt “everything they don’t teach you at watchmaking school," Voutilainen once commented.
Alongside restoring historic pieces, Parmigiani also began to branch out, attempting more original creations such as minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, and other pieces. In 1996, he established his own manufacture, in Fleurier. Backed by the Sandoz Family Foundation - whose collection of watches and clocks were restored by Parmigiani - he was afforded greater creative freedom through this financial backing, with the foundation also acquiring dial, movement, and case makers to allow for greater freedom and in-house production.
A Tribute to the Past
Many of the early Parmigiani Fleurier pieces paid tribute to the archives of watchmaking, displaying the admiration for vintage pieces that Michel Parmigiani developed over his years in restoration. This split second chronograph speaks to that approach, by taking a vintage calibre Venus 179, then modifying and refinishing it to a remarkably high standard. It is understood that this model was first introduced around 2000, making it amongst the earliest pieces to leave the manufacture.
The Venus 179 was first introduced in '40s, and remained in production for close to two decades, before being phased out of production. The depth of the movement, as well as its mechanical complexity, remains as impressive today as it was during the mid-20th century. In the process of production, Parmigiani Fleurier even added two jewels and incabloc shock protection to the base movement, to improve its reliability and function.
First invented in the 19th century by Adolphe Nicole, a Swiss watchmaker, this complication is perhaps more commonly known as a split-seconds timer. One of the more challenging and complex mechanical feats to pull off, the rattrapante complication is similar to a chronograph but allows the wearer to time two intervals instead of just one. The rattrapante function on this piece can be activated by the pushers found on either side of the crown.
The design of this Parmigiani Toric Rattrapante combines classic elements with distinctly modern colouring. The case is polished, with stepped and fluted bezels that are inspired by classical Greek and Roman “Doric” columns, in addition to the curvature of the Golden Ratio. The two pushers found on the right-hand side of the watch are also beautifully polished.
The dial of the watch is a dark blue, with engine-turned silver sub-dials placed at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock sections, representing a 30-minute chronograph counter, a 12-hour chronograph counter, and a sweep seconds counter respectively. The Breguet-style applied Roman numeral at 12 o’clock serves to give the piece a balanced look, with applied silver dots representing the other hours. A tachymeter dial encircles the main part of the dial, with light blue indicators that provide a modern touch to the design.
The manufacture’s signature can be found just below the 12 o’clock marker, and is enclosed by a light blue ring in a similar colour that draws subtle attention to the name. The piece also features polished javelin-style hands rendered in silver, which provide a contrast against the rest of the dark-coloured dial. The second hand can also be seen in silver, with a stylised half-moon at the base, while the flying-seconds hand is rendered in blue.
This Parmigiani Toric Rattrapante is powered by the calibre 271, which is based on the vintage calibre Venus 179 and is a manually-wound chronograph movement. The calibre is fitted with 21 jewels and has a power reserve of 49 hours. When viewed through the sapphire caseback, the movement has a combination of hand-chamfered bridges and mechanisms, with circular-graining, straight brushing, and Côtes de Genève, making it equally as attractive as the dial.
The watch is accompanied by an outer and inner box, as well as a certificate of origin, several booklets, and a pamphlet detailing the chronograph specifications. Included is a bespoke grey grained leather strap and the original white gold buckle and black alligator strap.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Toric Rattrapante will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.