Many would not consider leaving home without a watch, some even claim they “feel naked” without one – over the last hundred years the wristwatch has become an essential accessory. Not only “toys for boys” but mechanical works of art developed in the finest of materials by the finest of craftsmen.
The wristwatch first became popular in World War I as servicemen found accessing a pocket watch in the heat of the moment more than a little awkward. The trend was rapidly adopted by the population at large. Cartier set the standard for other watchmakers by issuing the first Swiss made wristwatch in 1911.
Today the early Swiss wristwatches are regarded as vintage pieces and are highly collectable – with the best reaching the elusive six-figure mark in specialist auctions. The collecting of vintage pieces really caught hold in the 1970s and 1980s as a reaction to the introduction of quartz technology to the mass market.
The vintage houses of Cartier and Rolex are well-known even to those outside the collector’s market. However, the key to a good investment is looking for those craftsmen who will, perhaps, rise up to meet the great names in the future.
The watch shown here, which we sold in June 2011 for £12,000 (premium inclusive), is made by one of the more recent watchmakers of the late 20th century, Michael Parmigiani. Parmigiani Fleurier was established in 1996, however, the idea was originally conceived in 1975 as Michael Parmigiani worked as a horologist and restorer.
The model is a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph with an automatic movement that has a power reserve of fifty hours and chronograph action. The Toric was one of Parmigiani’s earlier models but still continues to be issued with slight variations on the original design. The model being sold has the original box and is cased in a warm rose gold – a quality addition to any gentleman’s collection; or even the start of one.
Each beautiful Parmigiani watch takes over 400 hours to produce, the investment in time that is visible in every model. Such pieces of craftsmanship will always be a joy to own but it is also worth bearing in mind as a final note the tax advantages of collecting watches. Under the classification of “mechanical items of a wasting nature” they are exempt from capital gains tax – when talking about watches that can often be in excess of £15,000 ($24,000) this could be an advantage.