Hands-On Review – Parmigiani Toric Heritage Limited Edition

The Skinny

Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 10 mm
Movement: PF 441 In-house automatic
Water Resistance: 30 M
Price: $17,700
Limited to 70 pieces

Happy Birthday

The Toric Heritage limited edition series was made to celebrate Michael Parmigiani’s 70th birthday by revisiting the first watch he designed for his eponymous company. As we have previously discussed here and here, Parmigiani Fleurier is a vertically integrated independent watch brand founded in 1996 with an investment by the Sandoz family.

The Toric line is the company’s round dress watch. The special features are that the dial is blue with an interesting guilloché pattern and the case is in steel.

Why Should I Care About Guilloché?

The dial is what draws you into this watch. It deserves to be examined carefully under a loupe. Cheaper imitations made by stamping or CNC machines lack the complexity and luster of true guilloché. The guilloché pattern is applied using a rose engine lathe with a master craftsman who rotates the dial and operates the lathe by hand. This produces cuts in the metal which show off the grain and is capable of producing complex geometric patterns. The painstaking process takes tremendous skill and experience and the slightest slip results in discarding the dial.

The pattern of this dial is described by Parmigiani as “sprouting barleycorn.” It is an apt description. There are rows of seed-like oval shapes radiating from the center that get progressively larger as they approach the edge of the dial. The individual seeds have a peaked spine along the long axis so that light hitting the dial will illuminate one side of the seed and not the other. This produces a sunburst-like effect that appears as straight lines radiating outwards from the center. Each seed is also separated from the other seeds by wavy lines that goes from the center to the outer part of the dial. The wavy lines get thicker as they move outwards and also have a central spine with a wavy sunburst effect to complement the straight lines produced by the seeds. The effect is mesmerizing, especially when seen under magnification.

The hour markers and Parmigiani logo are skillfully applied directly to the guilloché dial. They are in 18K white gold with rhodium plating. The applied logo helps to distinguish this watch from others in the Toric line which typically have a printed logo in either a circular or rectangular flat frame. The hour marker font is described as “Hindu-Arabic” which describes its curvaceousness. The 6 o’clock is a triangle above which the typical Toric wide date window shows the date by odd numbers alternating with dots. The wideness of the window allows you to see the numbers on either side if the date is an even number. Above that is a flat area on the dial similar to how the logo normally is framed except that this has the printed limited edition number. On the outer dial is a simple circle with outer hash marks, slightly longer with the hours. The minute and hour hand have a lance shape, skeletonized closer to the center and with luminous tips. This in contrast to the dial which has no lume. The seconds hand has a half moon counterweight.

The Case and Movement

The case is a normal Toric case except in steel. The knurling of the bezel and the claw like lug application to the mid case is very characteristic for Parmigiani. The sapphire crystal is slightly rounded. The sapphire caseback is secured with four screws. The embossed crown is large and easy to wind. The watch comes on a luxurious blue Hermès alligator strap with a deployant buckle.

The movement is an in-house PF441. This is a COSC certified automatic movement with a guilloché decorated 22K gold rotor. It has a 55 hour power reserve and beats at 28,800 vph. There is a variable inertia balance, meaning that rather than regulating the watch by adjusting the length of the hairspring, the regulation occurs through adjusting screws on the balance wheel. This is considered a superior method of regulation. There are also two barrels for the mainspring instead of one and allow each to be smaller. The movement is nicely decorated though it looks a bit small in a 41 mm watch case.

On the Wrist

The watch sits surprisingly comfortably on the wrist due to its thinness and sharply curved lugs. The guilloché dial catches the light and gives it a more complex radiance than a sunburst finish. Combined with the knurling on the case, the fancy hands, and the semi-claw lugs, the watch has a formal appearance. Although comfortable, it is larger than most dress watches of this level of finishing.

Overall I appreciate the fine details and distinctive design language of the Parmigiani Toric Heritage. I think it brings a lot to the table in terms of a sophisticated guilloché dial in a stainless steel watch. As a matter of personal taste I did find the watch a bit large which also has the effect of making the movement appear small when viewed through the sapphire caseback. If you like large dress watches with more complex design features, this is a watch to give serious consideration.