Man. Meet Woman. Two recent tourbillon releases by Parmigiani Fleurier that reveal the best of what the Maison has to offer for both sexes
The new Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph Tourbillon and Tonda 1950 Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow are both impressive inside and outside. But this is the first time that I have reviewed two watches side by side — one for the men’s market and one for the ladies’ — and going against the stereotypes, the former has come out shining for its visual grandeur and the latter for its technical prowess. Usually it is the other way round.
Michel Parmigiani started the namesake company back in 1996. That was 24 years ago. Imbibing values of expert craftsmanship and cutting edge watchmaking skills, in this time they have expanded into five collections: Toric, Kalpa, Tonda, Bugatti, and Ovale.
While we wait for their new 2020 releases to be announced at the new Watches and Wonders online platform come April 25th, let’s have a refresher of the two Parmigiani Fleurier releases from recent times, all from their Tonda collection, one for men and one for women.
The Feminine Touch – Tonda 1950 Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow
The Lead In: I gotta be honest; I am usually critical of brands that release a watch for the feminine market but instead of putting much technical know-how behind these — one of my many pet peeves is featuring a quartz movement — they simply embellish them with diamonds. Now the latest Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow may be covered in a shower of 572 snow-set diamonds equaling ~ 1.4020 carats, but underneath this bedazzling exterior lies an in-house ultra-thin movement featuring a tourbillon.
They now have my attention. There is nothing understated or quiet about this one; it’s a full on if-you-got-it-flaunt-it kind of a watch.
Following on the footsteps of the Tonda 1950 Rainbow launched back in 2015, it seamlessly fuses the arts of high jewellery with high horology. Almost forming a disjointed figure of an off-centred eight — bit reminiscent of Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde watches — the bigger counter at 1’o clock is a crescent shaped aventurine sub-dial surrounded by a gradient ring of 32 baguette-cut coloured sapphire gemstones equaling ~ 0.31 carats. This off-centred look however, is not simply at the whim and fancy of the Masion. The larger counter is complimented by a smaller sub-dial at 7’o clock featuring the tourbillon. The positioning of the tourbillon is in-fact a nod to Michel Parmigiani’s birth date. He was born 7:08 am on December 2nd, 1950.
To complete this eye-catching look, the dial has been encased inside a rose gold body with 40 peripheral baguette-cut amethysts, rubies, tsavorites & sapphire gemstones on the bezel equaling ~ 2.50 carats.
Quick Tech Specs: The reference PFH279-1064600-HA2121 in 18ct rose gold features the ultra-thin calibre PF517 which is an automatic tourbillon movement. The movement measures 32mm in diameter and 3.4mm in height, comprises of 29 jewels and 207 components, beats at the frequency of 3Hz (21’600 A/h), and is encased inside a 40.2mm diameter and 9.4mm thick case. The watch offers an okay 48-hour power reserve and a 30m (3 ATM) water-resistance.
The watch face shows the functions of central hour and minutes, and a 60 seconds tourbillon with skeleton Delta-shaped hands.
What we like: Besides the full on colourful and shiny dial, it’s got to be the ultra-thin movement. The movement has been inspired by an enamelled gold pocket watch originally commissioned by Tsar Nicolas I back around 1840. The ultra-thin watch movement that powers it is known as a ‘Bagnolet’ which is an “inverted” calibre in which the gears rotate in the opposite direction to allow the time to be read in the conventional way.
In the Tonda 1950 Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow the ultra-thin PF517 movement used comprises of a platinum micro-rotor and flying tourbillon where the the tourbillon is integrated in the movement’s main plate to ensure the slim thickness.
The Masculine Vibe – Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph Tourbillon
The Lead In: The new Tondagraph Tourbillon features another slate dial red gold combination. We were first blown away by it with last year’s Tonda Chronor Slate release, the reference PFH282-1000200-HA1241.
The dial is the runaway hero here.
The combination of tourbillon and the chronograph is not only technically impressive but visually stunning on the slate-coloured guilloché backdrop. The third Tondagraph since its debut in 2009, the watch also features an in-house movement that as usual is beautifully decorated evident through the bevelling of the tourbillon bridge and the circular graining on the barrel.
These various finishes can be admired through the sapphire crystal at the back of the timepiece. The new watch can be paired with a Hermès Havana alligator strap with a rose gold pin buckle.
Aesthetically, it’s a stunner of watch.
Quick Tech Specs: The reference PFH236-1000200-HA1241 in 18ct rose gold features the PF354 which is a hand-wound movement. The movement measures 29.9mm in diameter and 7.6mm in height, comprises of 29 jewels and 298 components, beats at the frequency of 3Hz (21’600 A/h), and is encased inside a 43mm diameter and 13.4mm thick case. The watch offers a decent 65-hour power reserve and a 30m (3 ATM) water-resistance.
The watch face shows the functions of central hour and minutes, small seconds, a tourbillon, chronograph counter, and power reserve.
What we like: Hand’s down, the dial. Slate coloured dial featuring a “Guilloché Grain de riz ” pattern is a wonder to look at. Despite there being numerous complications — at 6’o clock is the ultra-sophisticated tourbillon; a counter at 3’o clock displays the minutes of the chronograph; small seconds takes its place on the counter at 9 o’clock; and a power reserve indicator is displayed at 12’o clock — on the dial, the watch is surprisingly legible.
The ‘Grain of Rice’ pattern works exceptionally well with the counters at 3,9, and 12’o clock, contrasting with their plain surfaces. Top that with rose gold plated appliques and skeleton Delta-shaped hands — that compliment the colour of the case, crown and push-pieces — for added legibility and you simply can’t deny the charm of this new release.
For a watch that costs 199’000 CHF, everything should be perfectly executed. The dial simply reminds us of that.
The Verdict: While both watches are impressive inside and outside, I still think its kind of ironic — but in a good way — that the women’s watch is more admirable for its movement while the men’s watch is more of a beauty on the outside.
For more information on these two and other Parmigiani Fleurier watches, head to their website here.