Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue features a modular chronograph movement. It blends a bewitching blue dial, ergonomic case and impressive finishing. Angus Davies describes this watch in detail and proffers his thoughts based on a recent ‘hands-on’ encounter.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

A prestigious hotel in London will often employ a concierge. This hospitality professional will have intimate knowledge of local tourist attractions, current West End shows and the finest dining venues within the vicinity. They are said to be ‘in the know’.

A person ‘in the know’ is aware of information that is only familiar to a limited number of people. In the world of fine watches, affluent buyers invariably gravitate towards those brands they have heard of. Sometimes, this interest is heightened further by the aesthetic appearance of a watch. However, many would-be buyers lack sufficient expertise to recognise a model’s technical attributes or artisanal details. They are essentially venturing into the unknown.

Parmigiani Fleurier is an exemplar of haute horlogerie and a brand often only familiar to those in the know. Based in the Val de Travers, a sparsely populated region in the canton of Neuchâtel, this firm is termed a ‘Manufacture’. This epithet is used to describe a watch company that makes its own movements. However, Parmigiani Fleurier goes beyond this. With the aid of five sister companies, the Swiss firm makes every part of a watch, save for rubies, sapphire crystals and the Hermès straps gracing its no-compromise timepieces.

The expertise of the Maison attracts the patronage of rival brands seeking dials, cases and movements, each made to the most exacting standards. The brand’s quality is renowned within the watch industry. A consequence of Parmigiani Fleurier’s unwavering obsession with quality precludes the firm making tens of thousands of watches. However, the limited production capacity of this marque grants a high degree of exclusivity, a characteristic much appreciated by the cognoscenti.

A few months ago the Swiss brand unveiled a new chronograph, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue. This watch, unlike its costlier sibling, the Kalpagraphe Chronometre, contains a modular chronograph movement but continues to encompass a number of attributes. Recently, I had the privilege of wearing the Tonda Metrographe for a number of days.

The dial

As its nomenclature implies, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue features a blue dial. However, to describe this dial as merely blue would be an injustice. The dial membrane interacts wonderfully with light, eliciting shades ranging from Prussian blue to sapphire.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

Most timepieces made by Parmigiani Fleurier feature delta-shaped hands. In the case of this model, the hour and minute hands uphold this design but are openworked. The danger of employing openworked hands is they can seemingly melt into the background, making them difficult to see. However, at no stage did this potential pitfall afflict the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue.

The centre of the display features three subdials. At 3 o’clock, a twin-tipped hand points towards two tracks, both indicating the running seconds. It sits beneath the main dial plane and, unlike the neighbouring chronograph registers, eschews snailing.

A 12-hour chronograph register resides at 6 o’clock, while a 30-minute chronograph register is positioned at 9 o’clock. The latter subdial is smaller, sharing similar dimensions to the small seconds display.

Below noon, an elongated aperture reveals the date. Arabic numerals are used to indicate odd-numbered values, while succinct dots denote even-numbered dates. The brand’s nomenclature is positioned beneath the date display and is framed with an oval-shaped border.

Applied rhodium plated indexes sit upon a snailed hour track, imbuing the dialscape with alluring depths. A tachymeter scale occupies the periphery of the dial and proves useful for determining the speed of an object over a known distance.

While the dial of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue features an array of indications and various aesthetic details it does not look cluttered or prove confusing to read. Indeed, this harmonious composition is eminently legible.

The case

The Swiss firm uses the name, ‘Tonda’ to identify its collection of watches. However, while the dial and bezel of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue are unequivocally round, the case is almost tonneau-shaped. Its prominent lugs and caseband seem to stretch the profile of the 40mm case, making it appear larger than its stated dimensions.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

Presented in a highly polished 18-carat rose gold case, this watch exhibits a notable degree of luxury. Its warm tones heighten the allure of the case without the watch ever appearing unduly flamboyant.

Michel Parmigiani, the founder of the eponymous company, has always obsessed over aesthetic details. He always considers the ‘golden ratio’ when styling watches and has even designed timepieces inspired by Doric columns. This model incorporates the brand’s favoured teardrop lugs which gently arc and exhibit a notable degree of grace. Moreover, the shape of the lugs also proves practical, ergonomically enveloping the wearer’s wrist and, by default, bestowing sublime levels of wearer comfort.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

Despite the crown being partially recessed, it proves simple to operate. The elliptically-shaped pushers have a sweet action, commanding the chronograph to start, stop and reset with impressive efficiency.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue is supplied on an ‘Abyss Blue Hermès strap’, paired with an 18-carat gold pin buckle. It proffers a tactile quality unlike no other and delivers unparalleled levels of wearer comfort.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

The movement

A few years ago I interviewed Michel Parmigiani and we discussed the subject of chronographs at length. At the time, most of Parmigiani Fleurier’s chronographs were of modular construction. Michel explained that the brand intended to release new models featuring a new fully integrated movement, endowed with a column wheel and vertical coupling. This type of movement is technically superior to a modular chronograph and will always prove more appealing to purists.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue

With a fully integrated movement, endowed with a column wheel and vertical coupling, the feel of the pushers is generally superior. Moreover, when the chronograph is actuated, the central chronograph seconds hand commences its journey without any hesitation or wobble. However, unfortunately, a fully integrated movement with column wheel is invariably more expensive than its modular counterpart.

Parmgiani Fleurier now offers would-be buyers a choice of either type of chronograph movement. The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue contains a modular movement, making the watch accessible to a wider audience.

As stated earlier, the pushers confer a silky action. However, when I started the chronograph, there was a short delay prior to the central chronograph seconds hand circumnavigating the dial. Some perfectionists may be irritated by this behaviour, but I suspect many potential buyers will overlook this issue, choosing to focus on this timepiece’s many attributes.

Irrespective of the price, the initials ‘PF’ signify exemplary movement finishing and the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue proves no exception. The bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and golden engraved text. The automatic movement features a 22-carat solid gold oscillating weight adorned with an exquisite ‘Grain d’Orge’ motif. Everything is refined to the highest order.

The Calibre PF315 is equipped with a variable inertia balance, delivering superior performance to a simple balance fitted with a curb adjuster. This is because a variable inertia balance allows the hairspring to breathe more concentrically, enhancing precision. Four c-shaped massellotes are fitted to the spokes of the balance wheel and their positioning mitigates air turbulence, again improving precision. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz).

The movement contains 351 components including 46 jewels. The power reserve is 42 hours.

Closing remarks

The dial of Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue is achingly attractive. It has a wonderful depth and quality, exhibiting a myriad of shades depending on the prevailing light conditions. The 18-carat rose gold case radiates luxury, courtesy of its highly polished, supremely smooth surfaces. Furthermore, the teardrop-shaped lugs are beautifully formed and help confer a magnificent ergonomic fit with the wearer’s wrist.

On discovering that this watch contains a modular movement, some connoisseurs may bemoan the brand’s decision not to equip the Tonda Metrographe with an integrated calibre. I understand this viewpoint and concede that there was a small delay prior to the central chronograph seconds hand commencing its journey. However, by using the Calibre PF315, the Swiss brand is able to enjoy cost savings, allowing it to offer this watch at a comparatively keen price.

The Calibre PF315 encompasses the high-end finishing for which the brand is renowned. Moreover, the variable inertia balance is another specification highlight which will resonate with many discerning horophiles.

During my time with the Metrographe rose gold blue, I repeatedly gazed at my wrist, eager to absorb its refined composition. This is a watch which pairs beauty and functionality to glorious effect. While it could never be described as ‘cheap’, a word that would unjustly diminish its numerous attributes, its price of £25,300 does represent excellent value for money. Moreover, as this article clearly demonstrates, this timepiece may not be familiar to the novice watch buyer, however, to those in the know its excellence is manifestly clear to see.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe rose gold blue
  • Reference: PFC274-1002500-HA3241
  • Case: 18-carat rose gold; diameter 40mm; height 11.8mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date and chronograph
  • Movement: Calibre PF315; automatic movement; 46 jewels; power reserve 42 hours; 351 components
  • Strap: Abyss Blue Hermès alligator strap, paired with 18-carat rose gold pin buckle
  • Price: £25,300 (RRP as at 6.8.2019)