Parmigiani Fleurier embraces its inner panda with the new Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black and the Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black, both now with ‘panda style’ sporty bi-color dials.
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Blackis both a chronograph and annual calendar, and as with all annual calendars, this indicator requires adjustment only once per year, from February to March.
The back of the steel model allows the owner to see the movement’s 22-karat gold rotor through a sapphire case back. You’ll also see a host of decorative finishes, including the circular côtes de Genève pattern on the bridges.
In comparison to its black-dialed predecessor, which utilized orange numerals and details, this new model displays higher-contrast elements in white, panda style.
“With this new model we wanted to exalt the contrast between the counters and the silver dial,” says Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Guido Terreni. “Taking out the orange indicators of the first edition helped us obtain a pure and long-lasting aesthetic.”
The 42mm Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Silver Black is a follow up to last year’s Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue, and like that model is powered by PF071, a 36,000-bph integrated chronograph caliber. This is a COSC chronometer-certified movement based on Parmigiani’s GPHG award-winning Caliber PF361. It offers 65-hours of power reserve.
The integrated chronograph function uses a smooth column wheel rather than a cam, and a vertical clutch rather than a horizontal one. These are said to increase accuracy by enabling the chronograph to start without an initial jolt.
As you might expect from this brand, the movement is expertly finished by hand. You’ll find chamfering and polishing, sandblasted surfaces, a sunray pattern on the 22-karat gold oscillating weight and beautifully hand-finished bridges.
As we noted last week, Parmigiani Fleurier celebrated the 70th birthday of its founder, watchmaker Michel Parmigiani, with a seventy-piece limited edition steel Toric Heritage watch in honor of the first watch he designed.
The new watch’s blue dial is decorated with eye-catching, radiating Grain d’Orge guilloché, a pattern also found on the gold rotor. Inside, the in-house COSC-certified Caliber PF441 features two barrels and seven hand-beveled bridges.
As is standard with Parmigiani Fleurier, the movement within the 42.8mm steel-cased watch is finished to haute horlogerie standards, with Côtes de Genève stripes, spiral-wound and circular-graining on the plates alone. The watch’s solid 22-karat rose gold rotor, visible through the clear sapphire caseback, features the same Grain d’Orge guilloché engraving seen on the dial.
The company chose to echo its founder’s first watch in large part because the Toric design (which was updated in 2017) reflects Michel Parmigiani’s own history and interests.
Michel Parmigiani was born in the Swiss canton of Neuchatel and grew up with a devotion to both watchmaking and architecture. He has described the Toric case as a design inspire by the famed Fibonacci mathematical sequence and by the Golden Ratio that has inspired thousands of years of art and architecture.
According to Parmigiani, every aspect of the Toric’s design starts with the Golden Ratio, including the relationship between the hands, the fluted angles in the crown, the length-to-width ratios, the rate of curvature of the lugs as they taper away from the case, even the caseback design and placement of the sapphire crystal.
While he opted to formally study watchmaking (at the Val-de-Travers watchmaking school in the La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum) Parmigiani started his career restoring historical clocks, pocket watches and related objects. Among the clients who came to Michel for restoration and maintenance was Switzerland’s Sandoz Family Foundation, which owned a significant collection of historical automata and clocks.
Parmigiani eventually established his own restoration workshop, attracting a list of haute horlogerie clients that also included the Patek Philippe museum.
“I remember feeling a bit like a pariah, starting this adventure against all advice,” Parmigiani says in a press release. “Restoring antique timepieces saved me from nihilism. Working, as I was during this period, on so many wonders from times gone by, made the idea that traditional watchmaking might disappear absolutely unthinkable to me. Restoration gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my watchmaking dreams, despite the naysayers.”
The Sandoz foundation encouraged Parmigiani to create his own watch brand– with their full support. This was the beginning of Parmigiani Fleurier, which launched in 1996.
Today, Parmigiani Fleurier encompasses five specialized Swiss firms. Each of the factories also produces parts for other haute horlogerie clients, including La Montre Hermès, the watchmaking division of the celebrated French leather goods house, which is a co-owner of the Vaucher movement manufacturer.
Parmigiani Fleurier will make seventy examples of the new Toric Heritage watch. Price: $17,700.
Parmigiani Fleurier earlier this year underscored its technical mettle by adding the Tondagraph GT to its Tonda GT collection. That limited-edition chronograph features a large date display and, unusually, an annual calendar, all placed into a case inspired by the highly acclaimed Tonda Chronor Anniversaire watch, for which the Manufacture received the Chronograph Watch Prize from the GPHG in 2017.
For Fall 2020 Parmigiani Fleurier revisits that same fluted-bezel case, but makes it in rose gold and fits it with an impressive integrated chronograph built on the foundation of that award-winning Chronor Anniversaire.
The brand’s new Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue, houses Parmigiani Fleurier’s new PF071 movement, a COSC-certified, automatic chronograph with large date, that boasts all the specifications you’d expect from a high-end in-house integrated chronograph – the brand’s third – with such pedigree.
Thus, the new high-frequency (36,000 bph) caliber is built with a column wheel instead of a cam, utilizes a vertical clutch instead of the more common horizontal clutch, and secures its balance using a double-attached cross-through bridge rather than a single-point bridge.
Parmigiani Fleurier explains that this type of bridge attachment “minimizes the effect of impacts to the balance with gold inertia blocks and has been designed so that its height can be adjusted and adapted precisely to the rest of the movement.”
With its high frequency chronograph caliber, which is accurate to the nearest 10th of a second, Parmigiani Fleurier has added two additional markers and hands within the subdial at 6 o’clock for the tenths-of-a-second timing display.
Parmigiani Fleurier has also integrated the big date aperture directly into the movement rather than adding it as a module, which the brand says enhances its reliability.
On the dial the watchmaker blues its traditional hobnail-style “clou triangulaire” guilloche, while the back reveals the high-end finish it applies throughout the new caliber PF071. The clear sapphire on the back exposes the movement’s sunray satin pattern finish and the 22-karat gold oscillating weight with eye-catching “angel wing” bridges.
Parmigiani Fleurier is making the Tondagraph GT Rose Gold Blue as a limited edition of twenty-five pieces each on a blue rubber strap ($41,000) and also on a gold bracelet ($65,500).
Parmigiani Fleurier introduces a sportier Tonda with the release of its new Tondagraph GT, a steel-cased chronograph inspired by the excellent Tonda Chronor, which won the Chronograph Watch Prize from the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2017.
The watchmaker also adds the Tonda GT, a three-hand version of the new model, a more leisurely design to be made as a limited edition in both a steel and a rose gold case.
Both the chronograph and three-hand model (with date) measure 42mm in diameter and feature a distinctive Parmigiani Fleurier “clou triangulaire” guilloché dial, a three-dimensional hobnail-type pattern that serves to nicely separate each dial display.
Parmigiani Fleurier powers its new sporty chronograph with the in-house PF043 automatic caliber that features a chronograph with, unusually, an annual calendar. As a reminder, an annual calendar shows the correct date and day all year, with only one correction required (on February 29). Combining these features places the watch among only a few high-end Swiss Made watches available with both these features.
Two subdials are dedicated to the chronograph display; the display at 3 o’clock is shared by the month aperture and the running seconds.
Parmigiani Fleurier has accented the large date and month displays with an orange color to both highlight and separate that function visually from the time and the chronograph timing. In fact, ‘annual calendar’ appears – in orange –within the subdial to visually tie the function together.
The case itself, designed by Dino Modolo, reprises the fluted bezel seen on the brand’s Toric models and on at least one model of the limited edition Tonda Chronor, but with smoother curved lugs that perfectly integrate the case with the new steel bracelet.
The dial features delta-shaped hands with a black luminescent coating. Water resistant to 100 meters, the Tondagraph GT also offers a screw-down crown and a 45-hour power reserve.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF043 automatic movement, with a power reserve of forty-five hours, powers the watch and is finished with Côtes de Genève stripes visible through the open caseback. Price: $18,500 (on an integrated rubber strap) and $19,500 (bracelet). The Tondagraph GT is limited to 200 pieces.
The Tonda GT offers a cleaner guilloche dial finished with the same pattern as the chronograph, but here the dial underscores a simple hour and minute hands display with a large date at 12 o’clock and a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Parmigiani Fleurier’s PF044 automatic movement, with a power reserve of forty-five hours, powers the watch.
Unlike the chronograph, the Tonda GT will be made in both steel and rose gold. The latter precious metal model further differentiates itself with a stunning blue dial and can be had with either a gold bracelet or a sporty blue rubber strap matching the dial. The Tonda GT Steel, likewise, is available with a steel bracelet or a black rubber strap.
The Tonda GT Rose Gold Blue is limited to 150 pieces, while the steel model is limited to 250 pieces. Prices: $13,500 (Tonda GT Steel on rubber strap), $14,500 (Tonda GT Steel on bracelet), $49,500 (Tonda GT, blue dial on a rose gold bracelet, and $24,900 (Tonda GT, blue dial in gold case on rubber). Availability: Pre-order now with delivery in August (Tonda GT with bracelet only in September).
I would like to share a hopeful story with you about an American Master Watchmaker working to achieve his lifelong dream.
For the past forty-five years, Don Loke has enjoyed a long and successful career as a professional master watchmaker and most recently has launched D Loke, his eponymous bespoke watch collection.
Loke’s deep watchmaking training and industry history has prepared him well for this most recent venture.
Don Loke graduated in 1978 from the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then worked with a master watchmaker in Meriden, Connecticut.
After this experience, he went back to Bowman and took clock making courses to finally finish in 1984. After Lancaster, Loke attended WOSTEP, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where he graduated first in his class.
Learning from Masters
While he was at school he met Michel Parmigiani and Philippe Dufour—two master watchmakers and renowned personalities in the Swiss luxury watch industry.
This was just the beginning. Post-graduation, he was invited by Breguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre for training in Switzerland and became the official after-sale person for Breguet in the U.S. when it was still owned by Chaumet. He also worked for two years with Master Watchmaker Dennis Harmon, in Waterbury, Connecticut, after which he became Technical Director of movement maker ETA for the American market. Loke soon joined UTAC Americas (which distributed Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Bertolucci, and Girard-Perregaux) as its technical director.
During this time, Loke also learned from Master Watchmaker Daniel Roth in Switzerland, who taught him the ins-and-outs of the highly complex tourbillon mechanism. By the mid-1990s, Loke worked with prominent companies such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Gerald Genta, and Daniel Roth.
When Loke found out that Michel Parmigiani was striking out on his own, Loke reached out to his old friend and eventually became the U.S. representative for Parmigiani Fleurier for more than six years. Don even interacted with legendary horologist George Daniels, discussing his new escapement and the double-wheel escapement Loke eventually developed. After seven years, he turned the escapement into a Solidworks program.
When Don Loke is not working on his own bespoke projects, he services incredible watches, ranging from minute repeaters to chronographs. He also restores intricate timepieces that require special attention, recreating parts from scratch to make identical versions of the original components. At the same time, he currently is in charge of the North American Service Center for Louis Moinet—a brand that makes exceptional watches that range between $80,000 and $350,000.
As you can see, Loke’s specialty is working on high-complication timepieces and his passion for watches and watchmaking has only augmented over the decades.
Own brand: D Loke
After all these years of dedicating his time to other brands and watches, Don Loke recently began to make eponymous bespoke watches. He established two shops. One is the “clean room” to house machinery for fine turnings, cuttings, wheel making, and pinion producing. He has a microscope for measuring, a guilloché machine with forty-two discs for dial decorating, and an oven for enameling.
This room is also where Don Loke stores his sketches, drawing, layouts, and 3D modeling. The other is the “dirty room” for more heavy type work. Prototyping takes place at his shops and production models are executed with CNC technology.
The first D Loke watch model is a chronograph dress watch—an idea Don Loke stored in the back of his mind for decades—where the chronograph pushers are hidden from sight.
Inside the 5 ATM water-resistant titanium case is a dial with asymmetric sub-dials and ornately cut center hands resembling blades. The rich blue details on the dial change color depending on the light, and there’s a crown at 9 o’clock to rotate the inner timing bezel.
The limited edition D Loke dress chronographs run on chronometer-rated Concepto calibers, a hybrid Swiss movement based on the ETA Valjoux 7750.
The watches took six months from design to manufacturing, and while the watch is made in Switzerland, the quality control and finishing are done in the U.S. There are twenty-five examples of the white-dial version, twenty-five examples of the white dial (with a blue bezel) version, and 300 examples of the blue dial version.
Although the watches are currently only available for purchase directly from Don Loke, his goal is to be in stores like Manfredi Jewels or Betteridge.
Loke is already working on his second watch model and is currently completing the prototype of a new lever escapement. At the heart of the watch will be a 100% proprietary movement, based on Don Loke’s design and technical drawings – his very own invention.
Loke says he will source handmade gold dials from J.N. Shapiro in California. As a result, this will be a handmade watch made entirely in the United States. Don expects to manufacture five prototypes in the first year and he will become the first American watchmaker to make his own high-end watch powered by his own movement. The aim is to present this timepiece to the U.S. market by the end of 2020 with a price tag of $65,000 to $75,000.
The third D Loke watch model will be a model with a double pivoted and spring detente escapement—invented by Don Loke based on conversations he had with George Daniels.
Yet again, this is his invention, with designs and technical drawings built from scratch. With already twenty-five orders in the books for this upcoming watch model, the American market should see it by the second quarter of 2021 with a price tag of $175,000.
Ultimately, it is Don’s dream to have his own watch on his wrist. Another goal of his is to bring his three children into the business. All are highly skilled engineers.
With all of these ideas and designs, including a future tourbillon piece, Loke is going to need plenty of talent and skill.
I love this spirit of entrepreneurship, and I wish Don Loke the very best and abundant success with his new company. Stay tuned for the end of the year when he unveils his new watches.
Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com (where this article first appeared) or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com