Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT
Parmigiani Fleurier SPECIALLY FOR THE EVENT
A super rare and probably unique, charismatic and impressive platinum tourbillon and minute repeating wristwatch of the Swiss haute horlogerie brand Parmigiani Fleurier, founded in 1996 by the famous watch and clock restorer Michel Parmigiani, with financial help from the Sandoz Foundation. Estimated production period: mid-2000s. Case made of platinum 950, diameter 42mm, 15mm thick, sapphire caseback. Open-worked dial, Parmigiani Fleurier blued steel ‘javelin’ hour and minute hands. Caliber PF255 (255.01), manually-wound, power reserve up to 75 hours. Functions – indication of hours and minutes, tourbillon at 6 o’clock, minute repeater with Westminster chime on four gongs for hours, quarters and minutes, 24-hour second time zone or day/night indicator at 2 o’clock. Black leather strap, Parmigiani Fleurier Toric 18k white gold pin buckle.
Currently, we are seeing a significant increase in the interest of collectors in watches created by independent watchmakers and small creative brands. For many such brands, including Parmigiani Fleurier, the early period of their activity should be recognised as especially interesting from the point of view of collecting. As a rule, during this period the founders of a brand implement their own concepts, thought out in advance and often unique. Their subsequent activities show an increase in the importance of such factors as customer requests, which, though inevitable, often leads to a significant correction of the original concept, to the point of completely abandoning it. In the early days of Parmigiani Fleurier, this brand, led by its founder Michel Parmigiani, predominantly offered collectible watches. They were characterised by a special aura, which we prefer to call ‘museum spirit’, cultivated in the collection thanks to the efforts of company founder Michel Parmigiani. His restorer’s background predetermined a collector’s approach to the design of the brand’s watches, which played a significant role in the formation of the early collection.
The museum spirit is most clearly expressed in the inaugural Torus collection, which around the year 2000 received the new name Toric. The museum spirit inherent in the early Torus/Toric models surfaces in the design of this watch most notably in the finish of the bezel and rim of the caseback. It is very important to note the high-class execution of the caseback, which from the very beginning was a reflection and confirmation of the high positioning of the Parmigiani Fleurier collection. The multi-tiered architecture of the bezel and rim of the caseback creates a symmetrical case profile when viewed from the side, while when viewed from the front, the bezel’s stepped shape is emphasised by two rings with finely made ribbing. In addition, the wide bezel required in this design let the brand follow the trend of large watches that emerged and gained momentum in the late 1990s as it allowed for a harmonious design using calibers previously developed with the aim of producing smaller watches.
The present Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT is an extremely rare release. Only a handful of these platinum pieces were ever made, and it is reasonable to assume that this is in fact a one-of-a-kind piece.
The present example is one of the most complicated watches of the early period of the brand. At that time, Parmigiani Fleurier usually produced very complex watches on private orders and as unique pieces, many of which are included in the Tecnica series. The release of the Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT, conceived as a regular, unlimited series, implied a different strategy – the creation of watches that are most in line with the vision of the brand and Michel Parmigiani himself, including his museum spirit concept. In the Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT we find an open-worked dial and a sapphire caseback, allowing the highly complex and finely finished caliber to be fully opened for inspection. The same approach is found in the earlier Torus/Toric Tourbillon, based on the Girard-Perregaux 9900 ‘three bridges’ movement-blank.
The caliber 25501 of the Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT was created in collaboration with the Christophe Claret complications atelier. It uses the same base as the Girard-Perregaux Opera One piece unique, introduced in 1998, and the more complex Opera Two piece unique, introduced in 2001 – both are Christophe Claret developments. The same basic minute repeater and tourbillon caliber appeared in the Ulysse Nardin Genghis Khan Minute Repeater Tourbillon, introduced in 2002. The Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT is endowed with a small additional complication – a 24-hour second time zone indicator, which can also be used as a day/night indicator. For this complication, a large 24-hour wheel was installed on the back of the movement under the bridge of complex curved outlines – it is the main visual difference from the movements of the Opera One/Two and Genghis Khan watches.
Despite Parmigiani Fleurier’s clear commitment to serial production of highly complicated watches, the present Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT is an extremely rare release. Very occasional examples in white gold and rose gold pop up on the market, but we have not been able to find any information or even a mention of a platinum piece like the present one. This leads us to believe that only a handful of these platinum pieces were ever made, and it is reasonable to assume that this is in fact a one-of-a-kind piece. Also known is the ‘Pour Jean Todt’ platinum Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT piece unique, made in 2006 featuring a special officer-type case with an additional hinged back cover in 18k white gold with a scene of two speeding horses overlaid with translucent enamel, sold by Christie’s in 2022.
The Toric Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT Platinum would be an excellent chance for the collector to obtain a super-rare, and probably one-of-a-kind, highly complicated tourbillon and minute repeating wristwatch from Parmigiani Fleurier, a world-famous haute horlogerie brand. Early in its history, the brand built a reputation for museum-class collector’s watches, and this watch seems to have been made to reaffirm that status. Sophisticated minute repeater and tourbillon complications complemented by high-end traditional finishing and decoration, which gives the feeling of the watch as a museum piece, are typical quality of the best Parmigiani Fleurier watches. Undoubtedly, this is one of the finest pages in the history of the brand. Furthermore, the appeal of this watch is greatly enhanced by the fact that only a handful of Westminster Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT watches were ever produced.
|Case||Platinum case 950/1000 with double stepped fluted bezel, sapphire caseback & round 24 hour dual time zone pusher & blue cabouchon crown at 3 o'clock, slide repeater at 9 o'clock|
|Strap||Original dark blue Alligator strap, with a platinum Parmigiani Fleurier pin buckle|
|Dial||Openworked skeletonized dial, Geneva striped with gmt time zone indication at 2 o'clock, Tourbillon display at 6 o'clock & minute repetition function|
|Movement||Rhodium-plated hand-wound movement, with a seconds time zone, Tourbillion and minute repeater complications|
|Case:||Very good, small signs of wear|
|Strap:||Very good, small signs of wear|
|Movement:||Very good , all functions working properly|
|Amplitude (Dial on top/Lift angle 52):||Approx 280°|
|Accuracy (Dial on top):||Approx +4 sec/day|
|Extract from archives:||Yes|
Swiss watchmaker of Italian origin, Michel Parmigiani became famous as a virtuoso restorer of antique pocket and interior watches.
Having spent decades restoring rare pieces of art, then restoring masterpieces belonging to the Sandoz Family Foundation, established by the heirs of the founder of the Swiss pharmaceutical empire, he created his own watch brand in 1996 with the support of the foundation.