PARMIGIANI FLEURIER TONDA METROPOLITAINE - RED-FACED
by Angus Davies for Parmigiani Fleurier - www.escapementmagazine.com
I exhibit an embarrassing trait whenever I encounter something of exceptional beauty. On seeing a beautiful lady, I have been known to experience a bright red glow to my cheeks. In addition, my body temperature will often rise a few degrees as I resemble a pressurised vessel, amassing an internal pressure as if my whole body is ready to explode.
Recently, I experienced a red flush to my cheeks whilst cradling a feminine timepiece in my hands. At first, my wrinkled cheeks evinced a fuschia-like shade, typical of when a statuesque lady enters a room. My rouge-tinted appearance was the product of my close proximity to a new timepiece from Parmigiani Fleurier. The refracted tincture from its breathtakingly gorgeous dial illuminated my face.
The Tonda Métropolitaine, launched earlier this year at SIHH 2014, is one of the latest feminine timepieces from the haute horlogerie brand based in the Val-de-Travers. The company, which bears the name of the founder, Michel Parmigiani, is a wonderful exemplar of no-compromise artisanal watchmaking.
With the arrival of this latest timepiece, the Fleurier-based company is hoping to appeal to an increasing number of female watch collectors desiring high-end mechanical timepieces. Over recent years, it has become apparent that, whilst many ladies still continue to select quartz models, a growing number are seeking the charms of a finely executed mechanical movement, freely disclosed via an exhibition case back.
Parmigiani has also noted an increasing interest in mechanical watches coming from buyers yet to reach their 45th birthday. Indeed, young, dynamic male clients are indulged with the arrival of the new Tonda Métrographe, whereas female clientele are wonderfully served with the advent of the new aforementioned Tonda Métropolitaine.
Would-be buyers have a choice of three dial references, black flinqué, white mother-of-pearl or the amarante flinqué. This latter variant exhibits an engaging reddish shade and is the focus of this review.
Red is such a powerful, emotive colour. It encourages reaction in both wearers and onlookers, alike. Some may prefer a more muted aesthetic and these customers are suitably served with the black flinqué or white mother-of-pearl options. However, the vibrant red dial is my favourite.
The flinqué dial features undulating waves, encouraging the eyes to be swept away on a sea of elegance and finesse. I adore the way the waves refract light, enhancing the depth of the textured surface. Parmigiani has also masterfully exploited depths with the hour markers residing above the dial surface.
Applied Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock, constructed of rose gold, look resplendent and confer fabulous legibility. The intervening hours are denoted with matching, tear-shaped appliqués, guiding the eyes towards the centre of the dial display.
Located above 6 ‘clock is a small seconds display, framed with a circlet of rose gold and featuring an elongated date aperture. The prevailing date is indicated with a small baton, resembling an isosceles triangle. The dates before and after are charmingly displayed alongside. The melancholic may reflect on a moment missed and the optimistic can dream of a bright tomorrow. Perhaps I am a hapless romantic, but I wish all dates could be presented in this way.
Below noon is an oval-shaped cartouche, proudly proclaiming the nomenclature of this exalted Manufacture.
Ordinarily, I select watches with straps. Moreover, when choosing a timepiece for my wife, I invariably pick a model with a leather strap. However, in this instance, the highly polished steel case ensnares my admiring glances with its resplendent form. This bracelet oozes luxury from every micron of its exquisitely executed links. The flamboyance of the bracelet has a slightly decadent, but thoroughly modern, character. Whilst I accept this ensemble of dial, gem-set bezel and highly polished bracelet may prove a tad too extrovert for some, I adore its confident demeanour and elegant lines. If I was a woman, I would pick this version and reveal my inner diva.
Those readers who prefer the charms of a leather strap can specify their Tonda Métropolitaine with a sumptuous Hermès calf skin leather strap. However, try on the bracelet first, it is stunning.
The gem set bezel consists of 72 diamonds, totalling 0.51 carats. It exhibits a brilliance which accentuates the appearance of the dial and case ensemble. This is a horological creation which seduces with its profound beauty but, as I explain later, this is a beauty which is more than skin deep.
The lugs arc with a graceful line and the bracelet is steadfastly joined to the case with four neat screws visible from the underside of the case. Indeed, the lug design elongates the appearance of the case, heightening the perception of slimness. The case height is a restrained 8.65 mm.
Measuring 34 mm in diameter, the Tonda Métropolitaine suits a diminutive feminine wrist whilst still conferring an easy to read dial.
Female purists with a strong desire to see the mechanical mastery of Parmigiani Fleurier are indulged with a spectacular view of the movement, courtesy of the sapphire crystal affixed to the case back. The case back is held in position with four screws.
The PF310 self-winding movement proffers much of the convenience of quartz but with a palpable quotient of emotion and character. In my opinion, there is no substitute for the beauty of a mechanical movement.
The oscillating mass is open-worked with two large apertures according a view of the finely decorated bridges beneath. The spiral shaped motif gracing the rotor stands testament to the adroit skill practised by the Swiss watch company.
Côtes de Genève adorns the bridges and, despite this watch being positioned more accessibly than some Parmigiani Fleurier models, it is still executed to a peerless standard. The stripes are wonderfully resolved with distinct lines, contrasting with their neighbouring Genevan wave. They retain a sublime smoothness which is the product of patiently applied craftsmanship. Indeed, the beauty of this watch extends beyond the exterior of the timepiece to the outstanding movement within.
The PF310 features two series-couple barrels which collaborate to deliver an impressive power reserve . A fully wound watch can be removed from the wrist for a couple of days and returned to the arm, functioning perfectly and continuing to draw power from the kinetic motion of the wearer’s wrist. There is little justification, in my opinion, in purchasing a quartz watch with its inert character.
A new dynamic female audience beckons for Parmigiani Fleurier. Based on the beauty of this Tonda Métropolitaine, I suspect a greater number of buyers will join the ranks of admirers who succumb to the abundant charms of this exceptional maison.
When I hold the Tonda Métropolitaine with amarante flinqué, my face becomes red, not merely as a result of its refracted glory illuminating my face with a reddish tinge, but because its beauty is so profound it could readily make men blush.
I am seduced by this exquisite horological masterpiece.