True art doesn’t portray but evokes: Introducing the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow

True art doesn’t portray but evokes: Introducing the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow

Rainbows make most people happy. In the Maison’s own words, the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow is a re-imagination of a lunar rainbow with colourful gems on the bezel and a spiral galaxy on the blue dial. Usually brands don’t go all out for a ladies watch. But this stunning combination of an aventurine base and a tourbillon is a work of art in its own right. 

After the storm comes the rainbow, they say. Well, the Covid-19 storm ain’t over yet, but there is a rainbow, in the form of the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow.

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

What’s a Moonbow?

A moonbow is a nocturnal weather phenomenon that is less common than the usual day time rainbows. Also called lunar rainbow or white rainbow, it is a rainbow produced by moonlight instead of direct sunlight.

Blue, pink, orange and yellow sapphires, rubies, tsavorites, and amethysts make up the 40 baguette-cut gemstones (weighing 2.59 carats) and are seen on the bezel that make up this moonbow.

To show how the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow shines amidst the context it lives in, we have broken up this review into internal (same brand) and external comparisons with other watches.

The Internal Comparison

Parmigiani Fleurier recently released the diamond studded Tonda 1950 Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow. Vibrant, colourful and covered in a shower of 572 snow-set diamonds equaling ~1.4020 carats and coloured stones on the top, and featuring an in-house ultra-thin tourbillon movement under the hood, it was truly a well balanced offering from the Maison. 

In terms of the movement specifications, in-fact it’s exactly the same as the new release. It is in the dial layout where the difference takes place. 

While the Flying Tourbillon Double Rainbow boldly graced the world of bling, the new Tonda 1950 Moonbow is more of a subtle dance of a rainbow around the glittering night sky.

The External Competition

Ladies watches usually don’t get the credit that they should. So we figured it would be nice to put this new release in comparison with what’s around in the market, and by placing it into context we hope our female readers can make a more informed decision.

All these watches have a few things in common: mechanical, so no quartz movement; celestially inspired, so representative of the sky and the stars; and ultra-chic and classy feminine appeal. 

1. The 2020 release, Girard-Perregaux 1966 Orion Trilogy that comes in two different aventurine dial colours (one blue and one black) to choose from.  — Again inspired by a sky full of stars, the thin aventurine dial of these has been masterly curved into a domed shape. The leaf-shaped hands, usual for 1966 collection, give it a nice added touch of elegance. The self-winding mechanical movement — GP03300-0132/0139 — comprises of 218 components, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h) allowing for a decent (min.) 46 hour power reserve.

2. Another Girard-Perregaux watch, the Cat’s Eye Lotus Arabian Jasmin (reference: 80488D52A401-CK4A) again has a self-winding mechanical movement — GP03300-1062/1051 — beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h) allowing for a decent (min.) 46 hour power reserve. The case is made out of pink gold and is set with 62 brilliant-cut diamonds (totalling approx. 0.85 carats). The most stunning feature of the Cat’s Eye Arabian Jasmin is the astronomical Day/Night complication.

3. Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Embrace embraces femininity through a poetic expression of mechanical watch art. Released earlier this year around Valentine’s Day, the new watch model is essentially a homage to the idea of love. The watches include a unique seconds display at 9’o clock where two hearts rotate, a metaphor for the highs and the lows besetting all relationships, however, they always remain together, locked in a perpetual embrace. The heart used — calibre ML258 — is an automatic winding manufacture movement beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h). It comprises of 37 jewels and boasts of a 36-hour power reserve.

4. Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Rainbow 39 featuring the calibre HUB1710 is a self-winding movement with a date window at 6’o clock and comprises of 185 components & beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h) allowing for a decent 50 hour power reserve. The bezel is polished 18K king gold and is set with 62 baguette-cut coloured gemstones with iconic 6 H-shaped titanium screws.

There you have it, different watches that are similar to the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow in their appeal, all with their unique personalities.

These explained, I do firmly believe that this new release by Parmigiani Fleurier has what it takes to shine and stand out in a class of its own. The Tonda 1950 Moonbow also beats at a lower frequency than the above ones — they all clock in at 4Hz while the Tonda comes in at 3Hz — thereby allowing the wearer more appreciation of the tourbillon. 

So what sets the new Tonda 1950 Moonbow apart?

Four aspects; first, the use of an ultra-thin tourbillon movement in a ladies watch. Second, the backstory, the inspiration behind the mechanisms and the dial. Third the look; the combination of a night sky blue aventurine dial surrounded by a rainbow, only punctuated by a tourbillon. And fourth, the diameter of 40.2mm making it both women and men friendly. 

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

The Movement 

The new Tonda 1950 Tourbillon Rose Gold Set Rainbow Blue Aventurine “Galaxy” reference PFH279-1062500-HA3221 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 — slightly more than the above listed watches besides Hublot — and a 30m (3 ATM) water-resistance. 

The watch face shows the functions of central hour and minutes with skeleton Delta-shaped hands, and a 60 seconds tourbillon.

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

The Inspirations 

Inspiration for the 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 Moonbow the hand-finished ultra-thin PF517 movement used comprises of a platinum micro-rotor and flying tourbillon where the tourbillon is integrated in the movement’s main plate to ensure the slim thickness.

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

Inspiration for the Aventurine dial 

The use of an aventurine dial in this watch has been inspired by Michel Parmigiani’s restorative works, in this case from the restoration of a songbird cage dating from the early 19th century. The cage is suspended in the air by a clock on its base and features a dial that can only be seen from below. 

According to historical records, aventurine glass was once used to decorate the panels of this clock but went missing in the past and was replaced by blue metallic paint.

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It

Look, let’s just make this official – no point in resisting it, the rainbow bezel watches are now a sub-genre of their own. From Rolex to Hublot, they are everywhere.

Rainbows make people happy. Rare phenomenons get people curious and excited. Combine the two aspects and scale them down to fit a wrist and you get the new Tonda 1950 Moonbow. 

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
New Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow| Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

Following on the footsteps of the Tonda 1950 Rainbow launched back in 2015, it seamlessly fuses the arts of high jewellery with high horology. The striking dial is punctuated by the tourbillon at 7’o clock. 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.

Available on red or blue Hermès leather strap or gold bracelet options, this new ladies offering is also befitting for men of colourful tastes given the 40.2mm diameter and 9.4mm case thickness.

In terms of use, we would usually say it may or may not be a daily wearer as it would change with people’s tastes and professions, but the lack of diamonds on the dial face and the timeless charm of the aventurine dial really lift this watch into something owners can wear more than once a week. It would definitely be the limelight of a party though, given its striking appearance. 

A dress watch par excellence, given the dimensions, it will even fit comfortably under the cuff, and to be honest I would love to see someone daring enough to wear this at a business meeting.

new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow
Courtesy © Parmigiani Fleurier

It is definitely a head turner that people around you would surely notice and admire. If we may make a suggestion, you know what would have been even cooler? Given the dial is sans hour markers, minutes track, and even the hands are skeletonised, wouldn’t it have been cool to even remove the hands and the branding texts, and just have the dial plain with just a tourbillon surrounded by a night sky surround by a rainbow?! 

The red strap version, reference PFH279-1062500-HA2121, costing CHF 155’000, is our favourite. These watches are something that Parmigiani Fleurier fans and watch enthusiasts should definitely check out — once it’s safe after the virus drama is over —  and decide if they are the right option for them.

The Polish-American novelist Jerzy Kosinski once said, “The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke”; and the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Moonbow evokes a new sense of colourful & celestial luxury.

For more information on these and other Parmigiani Fleurier watches, head to their website here.