A watchmaking legend comes to town
Having Michel Parmigiani come to town and talk about his watches is like going for a test drive with Enzo Ferrari.
The world of high-end watches is a fantastically exclusive club. You have Vacheron Constantin, founded in 1755, Patek Phillipe in 1855, Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1833—heck they still refer to Rolex, founded in 1919, as the new kid. So it’s exceedingly rare for a new brand to be considered among the greats. For starters it requires the insane attention to detail that is almost extinct in modern world. It also requires a refusal to chase the fickle winds of fashion on the premise that a serious watch will outlast even the strongest fashion trend a hundred fold. And it requires a sense of history, a connection to a craft that’s existed for 3 centuries.
So when someone satisfies all three it’s a big deal. When that someone—in the form of Michel Parmigiani—rolls into town to talk about the art of watchmaking it’s momentous. Parmigiani spent the first part of his career as an acclaimed restorer who was tasked with the salvation of some of the greatest timepieces ever created. When he was done with a piece it didn’t go onto someone’s wrist but into a glass case in a museum. So when he struck out on his own in the mid-1990s it was with a deep appreciation of the master’s to went before him. He appeared at Palladio Jewellers (the only retailer of Parmigiani Fleurier watches in B.C.) last week to chat about his watchmaking philosophy and show some of his famed creations—including his Bugatti Super Sport, perhaps the most buzzed about watch of the past five years. The handmade watch was created in partnership with the car brand know for it’s 220 mph $2,000,000 supercar and features an angled face that allows the wearer to tell the time without taking their hand of the steering wheel—probably a wise decision if you’re pushing 200 mph. And while it costs the same as a well appointed 1-bedroom Vancouver condo, we’re betting the purchasers of either are not hard comparison shoppers.
And while not all the watches are so pricey that they probably need to file their own tax returns, they are all in their own way, exceedingly rare. Even the most modestly priced watch is still assembled by hand and takes upwards of 400 hours of work. This beauty is from the Kalpa line.
And unlike so many other elite watches, we’re pretty sure you’re not going to run into someone else wearing the same watch.