Why King Charles III’s Royal Watch Is a Surprising Choice

Fashion
Charles’s longtime piece comes from a brand from outside the mainstream.

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TOPSHOT – Britain’s King Charles III greets the members of the public in the crowd upon his arrival at Buckingham Palace in London, on September 9, 2022, a day after Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96. – Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history and an icon instantly recognisable to billions of people around the world, died at her Scottish Highland retreat on September 8. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

Which watch does a king wear? Rap royalty opts for the world’s rarest Patek Philippes. King James, his highness of the Lakers of Los Angeles, favors Richard Milles and Audemars Piguets. But what about an actual freshly coronated monarch? In the case of King Charles III, newly installed on the throne, the watch of choice lines up with everything we know about the man: he’s quietly stylish and has a fondness for artisanally made and long-lasting objects.

While fulfilling his royal duties and attending to mourning crowds in the wake of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles wore a Parmigiani Fleurier automatic Toric Chronograph. Parmigiani Fleurier isn’t a household name, unless your living quarters are made up of folks who debate the merits of different complications. Parmigiani Fleurier was launched in 1996, which makes it a relative newcomer in a world where diamond jubilees are common. However, given what we know about how Charles dresses, it’s not so surprising he sought the brand out.

King Charles III greets well-wishers during a walkabout, on day two of public mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, in London, UK, on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Elizabeth IIs death at the age of 96 marks the start of a tumultuous 10 days for the UK that will see a queen buried, a nation mourn its longest-reigning monarch, and a new king proclaimed. Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBloomberg/Getty Images

“I’m lucky because I can find marvelous people who are brilliant makers of the things that I appreciate, and because of that, I try to keep them going for longer,” Charles told British Vogue in the fall of 2020. Marvelous people who are brilliant makers? Parmigiani Fleurier founder Michel Parmigiani fits that bill exactly. Michel got his start working as a restorer, taking on high-profile jobs for the likes of the Patek Philippe Museum, until investors encouraged him to launch his own brand.

Michel launched his brand with the Toric model. Like many prestigious watches, the goods are in the details. Pay close attention to the moon counterweight on the seconds hand, the elegant numerals in the date window, and that uniquely textured bezel. The bezels are “knurled” by hand, a groove-creating process you’re most likely to see out in the world on the grippy handles of dumbbells.

Maybe what Michel and Charles have most in common, though, is philosophy. In his British Vogue interview, Charles talked about his distaste for waste and his desire to “buy once, buy well.” In that case, he picked the right watch. Michel said that his hope for the Toric was for it t “become a timeless model with an aesthetic that would survive the test of time.”

According to a rep for Parmigiani Fleurier, Charles purchased the watch sometime between the late ‘90s and early 2000s at the Klosters resort in Switzerland, which the Royal family frequents in the winter. It’s been on his wrist for many big occasions since: it’s the same piece he wore in 2018 for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

Charles, like several others in the royal family, sticks mostly to this single watch. Prince William is known for exclusively wearing an Omega Seamaster, while Harry seems to only own two watches: a Rolex Explorer II and a Breitling Aerospace. These choices look practically austere when compared to the late queen’s collection, which included at least one Audemars Piguet and multiple Jaeger-LeCoultres and Patek Philippes.

King Charles’s rise to the throne brings a new royal watch to the forefront. This is no small deal, given the influence of royalty. Last September, Drake seemed to cite Queen Elizabeth II as his inspiration for rocking a pretty Patek Philippe Ellipse, like the one the former monarch wore for a 1984 portrait. People buy Cartier Tanks to be like Princess Diana, and even the Seamaster is now closely linked with Prince William. There’s no telling the effect Charles’s choice might have on a smaller brand like Parmigiani Fleurier. Long live the king’s watch.

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