The Rise Of Ultra-Thin Calibres (And Why You Should Care) Part 3 Of 3
The PF 701 is one of the best looking ‘base’ calibres on the market. It calls the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda range home and is capable of accepting complications that only marginally pad-out its 2.6mm thickness. Whereas the NOMOS Glashütte DUW 3001 is unusual for its centrally mounted rotor weight, the PF 701 employs a more traditional layout for an ultra slim watch. An eccentric platinum oscillating weight not only keeps this calibre slim, but also raises the level of luxury to new heights.
With 146 components, 29 jewels, an operating speed of 21,600 vph, a power reserve of 42 hours, and bridges and plates treated to a variety of traditional finishes, these movements have plenty to shout about, but a lot of these features are available at a lower price point. So why should we hand over our cash to Parmigiani Fleurier when there’s cheaper alternatives out there? As with most things, it comes down to taste and personal style.
Founded in 1996, Parmigiani Fleurier is owned by the Sandoz group. The advantage of this subsidiary status is that Parmigiani are able to benefit from the manufacturing capabilities of other Sandoz-owned companies. Within the portfolio is Vaucher – a long-established movement manufacturer responsible for the development and production of the PF 701. This means the movement is about as close to in-house as a proprietary movement can be, and is almost the latter by technicality alone.
Michel Parmigiani is a talented watchmaker, but he has another skill: the Frenchman is a gifted draftsman, able to explain his ideas with charcoal when words will not suffice. Because of his penmanship, Parmigiani’s unique lug design came to life from a daydream no words could do justice. The result is, in my opinion, iconic.
In an industry where market separation is as simple as a micron here or a split-second there, the shape of a case and its ability to stand out from the crowd is a pretty sharp arrow to have in your quiver.
With the industry’s current preference for classic diameters, and the evermore-essential ability to stay slim, Parmigiani Fleurier are on the cusp of something potentially game changing. The PF 701 has already had several complications added to it, and it seems likely more will come to satisfy the growing demand for complicated, wearable watches. And despite being slim, it’s no waif – the 30mm diameter is able to fill the cases offered by Parmigiani in a very pleasing fashion indeed.
Brands like Parmigiani and NOMOS Glashütte – the two prime focuses of this series on ultra thin watches – are poised for exceptional growth as, more by chance than design, their core principles are suddenly on trend. Brands accustomed to the production of oversized watches may need to scrabble around in the dust of smaller, more aesthetically in line watchmakers while they blaze a trail all will surely follow.