King Charles’ Surprisingly Tasteful Watch
No one who saw the newly crowned King Charles III perched atop a solid gold throne and dripping in jewels would accuse him of partaking in ‘stealth wealth’, but the new monarch does have a few tricks up his sleeve. The new head of the British Royal Family is known for his discreet fashion taste, even launching his own sustainable label last year, and he’s often been spotted sporting some rather interesting timepieces. From his much-photographed Patek Phillippe Calatrava, similar to that owned by pop-artist Andy Warhol, to his vintage gold Jaeger Le-Coultre Reverso with roman numerals, the King has endeared himself as a man of great taste in the watch world. Perhaps that’s why his choice of timepiece in recent settings has turned so many heads. In almost all engagements following the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles has been spotted wearing a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph, proving once and for all, he’s a man that will go his own way.
While the new King’s watch doesn’t exactly hold the same level of esteem as his Patek Philippe and Jaeger Le-Coultre pieces, it’s no less impressive. A stunning celebration of traditional style and watchmaking prowess, the Toric Chronograph follows in the footsteps of the great timepieces of old, despite not having the heritage to back it up. Officially, Parmigiani Fleurier only kicked off in 1996, led by esteemed watchmaker Michael Parmigiani, however, his ties to the industry cut deep. The Swiss watchmaker opened his own restoration workshop back in 1976, right in the midst of the global Quartz Crisis.
Parmigiani’s focus on traditional mechanical watchmaking practices saw him amass an almost cult-like following in Switzerland and it wasn’t long before he was tapped by the likes of Patek Philippe and famed writer, composer and collector Maurice-Yves Sandoz for restoration projects. In fact, it was the Sandoz Family Foundation that finally gave him the means to start his own brand, and more than 25 years on, Parmigiani Fleurier is thriving. Now, the Swiss independent looks to be on the cusp of a second wave of support, backed by some pretty famous fans.
King Charles’ Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph is a unique timepiece that walks the line between modern horology and traditional aesthetics. The timepiece was likely crafted in the mid-2000s, which is important in the sense that it represents an early iteration of the brand’s watchmaking philosophy. This particular chronograph is powered by a Zenith El Primero movement, one of the last to be created before Parmigiani started working on its own in-house movements, however, Parmigiani did add some touches of its own, most notably with the gold guilloche rotor. In terms of design, the Toric Chronograph cuts a distinctly regal silhouette, complete with Swiss hallmarks under the lugs and a distinctive date window at 1:30. It’s a quirky addition that isn’t for everyone, but then again, neither is the Royal Family.
Importantly, it’s not the first time we’ve seen King Charles wear the Parmigiani Chronograph. He was previously photographed with the watch during the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, so it’s been firmly in the rotation for the past few years and despite what you might think, it’s surprisingly affordable. A 2019 Christie’s auction of a similar timepiece went for USD$8,125, which isn’t cheap by any means, but significantly less than the Crown Jewels, however, recent auctions have the piece priced as high as USD$45,000.
While the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph might not be the household name that many would expect of a King, it’s a solid piece of horology ingenuity that marries the best of tradition with a more forward-thinking production ethos. Some might even say Charles’ choice to ditch the tried and tested favourites of the past is a symbol of the kind of monarch he plans to be, but then again, maybe he’s just got good taste.
King Charles Parmigiani Fluerier Toric Chronograph
Brand: Parmigiani Fluerier
Model: Toric Chronograph
Circa: Mid 2000s
Case: 18k pink gold
Dial: Silvered guilloche
Functions: Chronograph, date