When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018, where were your eyes drawn? To the electrified Jaguar E-Type the Duke of Sussex drove to his wedding reception? Or to his impeccable military uniform, deftly tailored by Savile Row’s Dege & Skinner? Or maybe to another of the well-dressed guests; David Beckham, or Suits’ very own Harvey Specter, Gabriel Macht?
For us, the answer is none of the above. Our gaze was well-and-truly caught by Prince Charles — or, more specifically, his wristwatch. What timely timepiece was that, glinting from below the Prince of Wales’ double cuff? Could it have been his beloved Patek Philippe Calatrava Disco Volante? His custom 60th birthday present from Breguet? Or the gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso he favoured back in the 80s?
Once again, the answer is none of the above. It was, in fact, the watch that has served as Prince Charles’ favourite since 2015; an 18-carat gold automatic Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph.
Parmigiani Fleurier may not be as famous a name as Rolex or Omega, but the Swiss luxury watchmaker — founded fairly recently in 1996 — is something of a well-kept secret among watch enthusiasts. The brand’s collections include Kalpa, Tonda and Charles’ Toric, and only a few thousand pieces are created every year to maintain exclusivity.
So where did HRH pick up his yellow gold chronograph? Though several outlets have reported that Prince Charles purchased the watch by proxy, sending a member of his inner circle to the brand’s London boutique, these rumours are only half right. It may be true that the Prince of Wales bought the watch himself — it wasn’t a gift from the brand like the Breguet above — but he didn’t buy it from London.
In fact, he picked it up closer to the home of Parmigiani Fleurier — in Switzerland. The watchmaker tells Gentleman’s Journal that the timepiece was obtained from its retailer in Klosters — the storied Swiss resort where the British Royal family have long spent their winter holidays. It also, they reveal, dates from the late 90s to the early 2000s.
Both Prince Harry and Prince William learnt to ski in the Prättigau village of Klosters, staying at the famous Chalet Eugenia. Nearby, Maissen Klosters AG is a watch boutique and official seller of Parmigiani Fleurier watches. Today in its third generation, Clau Maissen sells watches to the great, the good — and to Prince Charles himself.
The watch itself is an elegant 39mm in diameter, and features blued hands, a date window between 1 and 2 o’clock and roman numerals. There’s the three subdials to be expected on a calibre of this calibre, a ridged double bezel and even more subtle blue detailing on the gold crown — itself situated between two pushers.
It’s a handsome thing — and has been spotted on Charles’ wrist by watch aficionados on several occasions. Most recently, it made an appearance during an IGTV broadcast on the Clarence House Instagram page, in which the Prince of Wales broached the subject of the pandemic. When next we’ll see it, we don’t know — but it’s nice to know the heir apparent has impeccable taste in timepieces.