David Linley, Earl of Snowdon and honorary Chairman of Christie’s talks to QP about the Parmigiani Toric Chronograph that’s at the heart of his collection
By James Buttery
“The dial is a lovely shade of blue, which these days seems very chic and on trend. I put it on most days because it’s just a really lovely watch to wear. The Hermes strap is also something that doesn’t seem to age; most watch straps seem to get ‘scuzzy’ with age, but this one doesn’t. It’s amazing.
It’s one of my personal favourites because it’s not a brand that is overly familiar. William Asprey introduced me to Parmigiani personally when William & Son were on Mount Street around six years ago. My father and I would collect things of low value but of high design; our ethos was to find things that were slightly amusing or did something unusual. So as children we’d be given a Swatch or a Timex or a Swiss Army watch with a compass under it.
This one, the Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph, is what I’d call high design and of a slightly higher value, but nevertheless it’s so under-the-radar. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve got because nobody knows what it is. I remember having an F.P. Journe and nobody knew what that was except other people with F.P. Journe watches. I like that, that’s some of the humour in it I enjoy.
Similarly with a world-renowned designer like Gerald Genta, who designed a lot of the great watches, knowing him and his now-widow was one of the great treats of my life. Meeting someone who has created some of the things you grew up knowing and looking up to, whether that’s the Cartier Pasha, Royal Oak or the Nautilus, all classics he designed.
It’s that subtlety of design and engineering, trial and error: as a designer, I know that to be the case of great design, you continuously refine and hone and tune. I suppose that’s why watch collecting is something that I have always admired other people doing and in a small way, and not at a very high value, have enjoyed myself because it’s a combination of craftsmanship, design and wearability and fun and having something with an energy to it.”