What to do next when you already have one of the world’s thinnest automatic movements on your portfolio? Well, for Parmigiani Fleurier whose Tondo 1950 collection has been the flagbearer for this movement, the answer to that particular riddle was to have that movement shed any excess weight by stripping it right down to its barest essentials, and then put it all on display, and the result of all of this effort is the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tondo 1950 Squelette.
At a mere 2.6mm the Calibre PF705 is a special accomplishment, with only Piaget’s P1208 trumping it in the battle for the ‘world’s thinnest’ bragging rights, and here in the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondo 1950 Squelette the in-house manufacture movement becomes the focal element of the watch. The ‘dial’ is a clear sapphire crystal above a grooved peripheral band, and onto which to the delicately tapering indices have been applied, extending out on the sapphire and over the open mechanism beneath, meaning that apart from the luminous coated ‘delta’ hands, everything else on display is pure movement.
The mainplate has been machined by hand before being beveled and brushed to leave a smooth grained finish on its grey arterial-like form, which intertwines with the bridge and reveals the working parts and the constant play of the escapement and balance. However it’s the unusual dial side view of the solid platinum micro rotor which first catches the eye and focuses attention as it spins away merrily at the 11 o’clock position.
The same attention to every little detail is also in evidence when it’s turned over as a sapphire caseback reveals yet more immaculate metalworking on the bridge components and an even better view of the complex arrangement inside.
Of course the micro rotor is key to the almost wafer thin construction of the PF700 series of ultra-slim self-winding calibres, as it retires the need for a space hungry surface mounted oscillating weight and tucks it away, integrated into the movement itself. It also demonstrates the innovation and technical abilities of the manufacture behind the apparent simplicity of a two hand timepiece.
There are two variants of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondo 1950 Squelette, each with slightly different personalities; a gents which is cased in white or rose gold and the subject of the description above, and also a ladies version which also comes in white or rose gold, except set with 84 diamonds on the bezel. Unusually, both male and female watches share the same 39mm case size, but where they do differ most noticeably is in the use of a gentle frosting on the sapphire dial on the ladies model, through which the movement appears demure in silhouette.
Thanks to the reduced dimensions of the movement, the cases are pretty thin too, the white gold gents piece only 7.8mm and the ladies at 8.4mm, presumably due to the diamonds which adorn the bezel. Each come on Hermés alligator straps with ardillon buckle.
For me skeletonisation, whilst interesting, does not always work and it’s obviously tricky to execute to get it just right, but Parmigiani Fleurier have done just that with the Tondo 1950 Squelette. It’s not too shouty or overdone, indeed it’s almost sleek and certainly classy.
Calibre PF705 has 144 components and operates at 21,600 vph with a power reserve of 42 hours. Prices are €35,300 for the gents and €38,300 for the diamond-set ladies models.
More info: www.parmigiani.ch