Raymond Weil Parsifal: 20 Years Later, Out of the Department Store

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Let’s face it, most Hodinkee readers probably haven’t paid much attention to Raymond Weil. Founded in 1976 at the nadir of the Swiss watch industry, the company has been largely known as a denizen of department store watch cases serving as many people’s entry point into "nicer" timepieces.

But what most of us don’t know is that Raymond Weil, the company’s namesake founder, has a solid watch background, having started his career with Camy Watch, and served as the President of the Geneva Watch Manufacturer’s Union. Some of Raymond Weil’s more recent offerings are making horology fans sit up and take notice, such as the Nabucco and the Freelancer.

2010 marks the 20th anniversary of Raymond Weil’s most popular model, the Parsifal. Named after Wagner’s opera, the Parsifal has always been an elegant dress watch. But in its twentieth year, the chronograph gets an exhibition caseback that displays a finely decorated top shelf movement. The ETA 2892 with Dubois Depraz chronograph module has Geneva stripes, circular graining and an engraved rotor.

This fine movement drives a three-register chrono (small seconds, minutes, hours) with magnified date aperture on a Roman numeral-ed matte black dial. Chronograph minutes sweep around the subdial unlike the familiar tick-over of Valjoux-driven chronos. Timekeeping in our test watch was outstanding, well within chronometer specifications.

Though firmly planted in dress watch territory, thanks to its rose gold bezel and alligator strap, the Parsifal chronograph still has a screw-down crown and is water resistant to 100 meters. So if you fall into the pool at the wedding reception, all that will be ruined is your tux. Raymond Weil might just be worth a second look as you pass the watch counter during your holiday shopping this year.