Parmigiani is a relatively new name in the market of high-end timepieces. The brand has remained a niche player for the past 18 years, and they have exclusively focussed on the absolute top-end in the world of Haute Horlogerie. Just think of the Bugatti timepieces, several minute repeaters (see here and here) and the recently introduced skeleton version of one of our favourite dress watches in the market, the Tonda 1950 Squelette. Today we’re gonna have a closer look at the Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe.
Parmigiani’s Tonda collection comprises watches with a round case; something that might be more or less standard for most brands out there, not so for Parmigiani. The Tonda 1950 is one of our favourite dress watches that won our hearts because of it’s quirkiness, with its rather unusual, outsize lugs. Similar design cues can be found in the Bugatti Aerolithe and Tonda Metrographe – introduced earlier this year – that we had the pleasure to wear for a week.
The design is a mix of classic design codes and some quirky ingredients. The recognizable Parmigiani lugs – which I happen to like a lot, but I can imagine these can be considered as polarizing – are there, and there’s a green luminescent “8”. The two circles that form the number “8” are the chronograph registers. The luminescent material used for these two circles is green, instead of the white luminescent material that is used for the regular hours markers and hands. It looks great and the green eight immediately catches the attention. There are two other dial version: one in mint green with only white luminescent material, and one in grained white with only luminescent hands (no luminescent material on hour markers and no “8”).
The green luminescent “8” is hard to be missed and looks cool. As you will probably expect, it shines bright during the darker hours, really bright, and that looks very cool. However it also prevents from properly reading the time during these darker hours of the day. While the hands, or one of them, is going over the luminescent “8” the hand(s) can’t be distinguished from the very bright luminescent “8” and it all becomes one bright “8”. Maybe not very practical, but it does look very cool. If you don’t like it, there’s are other choices of dials.
The black dial has applied hour markers, executed in white gold, and filled with white luminescent material. At the 3 o’clock position is the small running seconds, and inside the chronograph’s hour totalizer is an aperture for the date. At the 12 o’clock position is the applied brand logo that adorns all dials from Parmigiani Fleurier.
The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter and is roughly 12mm thick (quite thin for a chronograph). In my opinion a perfect dimension for a dressy / sporty watch that the Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe actually is. Especially on the black leather strap it has that sporty/dressy feeling. And if you wonder, no, it is no alligator leather, but a calf leather strap made by non other than Hèrmes. The Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe wear very comfortable, and the relatively wide leather strap add to a bold and masculine look.
The photos above show that the side of the lugs are beautifully mirror-polished and are shaped to follow the curving of the wrist. The photo of the crown and pushes (see above) shows the first indication that we’re dealing with a chronograph module. This is something to remember! When the crown is lower than the chronograph pushers, that means a chronograph module is placed on top of movement. With an integrated chronograph movement crown and pushers are in one line.
The movement – calibre PF315
That brings us to the movement, which is a in-house developed and manufactured movement, named calibre PF315, that indicates time and date. This movement has two series-coupled main spring barrels, which together hold 42 hours of autonomy when fully wound. For the critical reader this might sound strange. Most movements with a single main spring offer 42 hours of power reserve, so why does a movement with two main springs, coupled in series, deliver exactly the same? There’s a perfectly good reason for this and one that testifies that Parmigiani Fleurier is doing a proper job when it comes to high-end watchmaking.
Contant power and the quest for perfect chronometric rates
With all mechanical timepieces, there’s a simple rule. The power, coming from the main spring, going through the gear train to the escapement, has to be as stable as possible to ensure good chronometric rates (and thus close to perfect timing.) Since every spring has more torque when it’s fully loaded, and less torque when the spring is close to being unwound, the power coming from the mains bring varies. To compensate for this variation, a constant force mechanism is an option. Another option is to use an abundance of potential power (in this case two coupled main springs) and cut of the power supply at the point where the torque drops below certain values. This ensures a relatively stable source of power for the movement, and thus a superlative timing.
The movement ticks at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), has 46 jewels in total and 351 components (that’s including the Dubois-Deprez chronograph module). The finishing is beautiful, and all done by hand: Côtes de Genève on the bridges, which are also bevelled and feature polished angles, pèrlage on the main plate. The movement comes from the Vaucher manufacture, which is owned by Parmigiani.
Summarizing everything, the Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe is a beautiful, and elegant timepiece. It’s sporty, and also a bit dressy. The finishing of everything, meaning the movement, the case, the dial, and even the strap, is of the very highest level and oozes quality. The only thing to nag about is that it’s simply not possible to read the time at night, despite the abundance of luminescent material. But during the week we had the Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe on the wrist, it simply didn’t matter and I enjoyed wearing it a LOT.
The Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe is available for € 8,678 Euro (excluding taxes) here at Ace.