The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 fits into a big trend of the Sinophile watchmaking; the (colossal) Chinese market is fond of plain Hours-minute-second with a classic diameter.
Yet, in this field, there were a tremendous number of reissues of pieces from the 50’-60’s; many brands merely reproduced these codes without the era’s magic.
However, certain brands, like Lange & Söhne or Vacheron Constantin, make very fine things in this vein.
Parmigiani recently took up the Quest for the Bauhaus’ horologic Grail: the quintessential horologic layout.
Minimalism is too often mistaken for dullness and the functionalism for the banality.
If making a white classic 3 hands is easy, it is a bit, or even a hunk more difficult in black…
Many brands make (or subcontract) superb powdered or grained silver;
They produce « liquid-paint » enamellings (©www.Watchonista.com), eggshell whites, “Silver-Surfer” silvers, more than perfect whites…. In short, some fine white which conveys quality.
But regarding the black, it is despairing. Dull colors, light sinks, corny textures on a B-uhr made by a “little” German, the final result is poor in terms of quality.
Weak product management? Lazy suppliers? Color more difficult to master?
With this Tonda 1950, Parmigiani Fleurier demonstrates that it is possible to achieve a beautiful black.
This Tonda’s black is surprisingly powdered/shimmering/eggshell (just wear the watch, you will understand).
For the lovers of more sportive watch (without white dial), it is bliss.
Because the vivacity of the dial’s black combines with the distinctive PF lugs and the sharp hands, to produce a very dynamic look.
As a result, the watch seems larger than the advertized 39mm… Still in this idea of “perceived quality”, the brand name circled in gold combined with the narrow indicators complete the effect.
Even if the white Tonda 1950 is a success, it is with the black version that Quadrance (PF’s dial department) demonstrates its Know-how. Sportive, dressy, neo-classic, it is an achievement.
Tonda Retrograde Calendrier Annuel
Nowadays there is a crack in the very high-end watchmaking, between sports-chic (Royal Oak, Overseas, Nautilus…) and classic dressy watches.
This distinction was created by some big wigs of the Helvetian design, such as the late Gerald Genta.
And since the 70’s, the design of high end classic watchmaking collections almost hasn’t evolved aesthetically.
But nowadays, Parmigiani Fleurier punches a hole in the establishment of the high end dressy watches, by modernizing the classic codes. Hence, the movement of the “Tonda Retrograde Calendrier Annuel”, completely designed, assembled and finished in the Parmigiani-Fleurier manufactory, represents the horologic “swissness” pinnacle.
The annual calendar movement is of course automatic, to allow the use of a watch winder Even if the circular-graining of the 22K gold balance is superb, one could almost regret that it blocks the light which perfectly enhances the subtle Côtes de Genève and beveling. The dial is a surprise: a neo-classic design featuring grainy silver at the center and powdery at the periphery; you will notice the many details, especially the PF logo circled with gold.
But the centerpiece is of course the Grande date, indicated by a retrograde hand instead of an aperture.
The day is indicated at 9 o’clock and the month at 3 o’clock, when the moon phase for the Northern and Southern hemisphere sit at 6 o’clock. This super-accurate complication only has to be adjusted every 120 years.
The watchcase is 40mm across, but the exclusive and dynamic lugs, together with the Hermes wide alligator sports wristband make it look like a 42mm.
The bet on the Tonda line seems to be worthwhile for Parmigiani: that of having the Swiss conservatism evolve while keeping with the tradition. It is not really a novelty, but this watch is rare and interesting enough for us to dwell upon, lengthily!
Bugatti Super Sport
In 2004, Parmigiani presented the Bugatti Type 370 (which is the top speed in Km/h of the first Veyron), featuring a first: a movement with a transverse architecture, just like a super car engine block.
While the actual trend is to produce movements as large and as flat as possible, PF did the exact opposite: a movement as small and as thick as possible, in order to fit it transversely in a watch case which is reminiscent of the hoods of the Bugatti from the 30's, such as the famous "Type 35" and "Type 41”.
In order to satisfy the increasing market and to pay an ultimate tribute to the Bugatti Veyron, the most mythical
Super car from the 2000's, PF just presented the "Super Sport", dedicated to the limited eponymous edition of the Veyron. Rather than perform a makeover on the "Type 370" with orange and black, the brand of Fleurier proposes an entirely different watch. It keeps the lateral display, so useful to tell time without having to let go of the wheel.
Thus, the caliber and the watch case of the "Super Sport" are completely new.
While the 370 paid a tribute to the classic Bugatti's front part, the Super Sport is still a tribute to the case that contains the Bugatti's engine, but this time with the Alsatian intergalactic fighter's rear part as an inspiration.
The bow is curved like a raindrop, the most aerodynamic natural shape. As a coincidence, the typical wing shaped case lugs of Parmigiani are reminiscent of the Bugatti Super sport's rear part, thus, multiple aesthetical references.
The watch is as unusual in its dimensions as it is in the way it feels on the wrist. One finds again the sensations experienced with the "Type 370". It is such a surprising and innovative watch in the way it displays the hour, that wearing it is more indispensable than ever. The crowning touch is that the astonishing work performed on the movement, with its bridges and plates with "Black Gold" colored Côtes de Genève, is visible through six sapphire crystals: the contrast with the white gold case is stunning. Therefore, like the two Veyron Super Sport's coupled V8, one can see two barrels that provide a 10-day power reserve (circular graduated scale displayed on top of the watch).
The watch is manually wound through a dynamometric crown, which retracts with simple pressure.
With the Bugatti series, Parmigiani signs one of the most successful partnership of the motor sports world, by producing an elitist and groundbreaking watch, all the way through to the architecture of its engine.
A piece worthy of the independent high-end watch making's most original creations.