Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate
Angus Davies extolls the many virtues of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate, a wonderful example of haute horlogerie. This fine timepiece indulges the desires of purists with its exalted movement finishing, platinum case, 30-second tourbillon and the most becoming dial vista.
This detailed review of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate includes live images, specification details and pricing.
There are many times in life when it is preferable to start afresh, setting aside the past and working with ‘a clean slate’. This is a notion familiar to high-end Swiss watchmaking company, Parmigiani Fleurier.
Unlike some practitioners of fine watchmaking, Parmigiani Fleurier often creates timepieces without the constraints imposed by using an off the peg movement. This maison is a ‘manufacture’ par excellence, crafting exquisite timepieces which few marques can surpass.
Parmigiani Fleurier is unusual in that it sits alongside several sister companies which specialise in the creation of various watch components, including dials, cases, springs, screws etc,. Indeed, with the exception of rubies, sapphire crystals and the Hermès leather straps affixed to many of the maison’s watches, everything is made by Parmigiani Fleurier or its sibling firms.
This degree of vertical integration is remarkable. I have witnessed, first hand, the no-compromise gestation of infinitesimally small parts, executed to an exalted standard. Moreover, the capacity of said companies to craft blemish-free parts has led several other famous watch brands to procure components from this highly capable ensemble of factories.
Recently, I happened upon a perfect illustration of Parmigiani Fleurier’s famed proficiency, the Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate, a comparatively rare timepiece, limited to only 100 pieces.
Looking at the dial of this Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate, I was reminded of this maison’s mechanical expertise, courtesy of the Côtes de Genève motif occupying the outer area of the dial. This wave-like pattern, a decoration typically employed on movements, is presented in a comely slate hue, evincing different tonal shades depending on which position the watch is held.
Located centre-stage, a white ‘velvet’ sea of loveliness provides a tasteful backdrop for the ‘Delta-shaped’ luminescent hour and minute hands to articulate time with becoming style. A minute track frames this central velvet area, marking the boundary between the contrasting light and dark coloured dial regions. The hours are indicated with supremely slender, long batons.
Positioned below noon, a crescent-shaped power reserve indicator reveals the amount of stored energy held within the two series-coupled barrels, expressed in days.
Wherever the eyes choose to dwell they are met with resplendent details. For example, the central sweep seconds hand usurps the merely functional, charming onlookers with its lithe profile and crescent-shaped counterweight. There is nothing perfunctory about this timepiece; everything feels special.
However, despite the assemblage of said niceties, the pièce de résistance has to be the tourbillon occupying the lower portion of the dial. The tourbillon bridge gorgeously gleams with mirror-polished splendour, revealing to those in the know that many hours of adroit skill have been employed to realise its matchless form.
The aperture for the tourbillon permits the wearer to see through the watch, front to back, enjoying sight of the whirlwind at play with its hurried gait.
A timepiece of this stature is deserving of a noble case. In this instance, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon is delivered in a platinum housing. This most precious of metals is supremely rare, softly-spoken and provides the perfect accompaniment to the aforementioned drop-dead gorgeous dial. While an alternative version of this watch is available in 18-carat rose gold, in my opinion, it pales by comparison.
Measuring 42mm in diameter, with a comparatively modest height of 11.5mm, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate exhibits an unassuming character. The dimensions and styling of the case may seem a tad reserved, but any modesty shown is unwarranted; this is an accomplished performance which should be proclaimed.
The lugs are seamlessly affixed to the case, exhibiting a lachrymose profile. They gently taper downwards, luring the strap into enveloping the wrist. The lugs, in keeping with other facets of this horological gem, exhibit an exquisite air of grace.
The circumference of the crown is gorgeously crimped, casting comely pockets of shade in the recessed sections of its grip. The Parmigiani Fleurier logo, on the vertical plane of the crown, is presented in relief. Despite its discreet profile, the crown remains simple to manipulate, fulfilling any functional requirements it may be called upon to fulfil.
While holding a timepiece, I feel a compunction to admire the mechanical movement within and validate the level of finishing manifest. Parmigiani Fleurier sates my inquisitive nature, equipping the Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate with an exhibition caseback.
Seldom does a leather strap justify discussion, however, seldom does a watch come supplied on a black Hermès alligator strap. This splendiferous means of affixing the watch to its fortuitous owner’s arm outperforms any other piece of leather I have ever encountered.
The Calibre PF510 is a hand-wound movement containing 237 components, including 30 jewels. The balance has a frequency of 21,600 vph (3Hz) and the two series-coupled barrels ensure autonomous operation for one week.
However, where the Calibre PF510 sets itself apart from lesser movements is with its distilled creation. Few movements eclipse the peerless finissage found on the Calibre PF510. Three bridges, adorned with Geneva Stripes, dominate the caudal view of the movement. Each wave-like stripe is pristinely expressed and contrasts wonderfully with neighbouring stripes. The jewel sinks are polished to an eye-searing brilliance. Towards the centre of the exposed movement, beyond the lone, visible, circular grained wheel is a pocket of peerless perlage. Each pearl is crisp and delightfully delineated from its neighbour.
The bridges are engraved with gold lettering and feature polished screw sinks. The screws, visible via the sapphire crystal, have chamfered rims and bevelled slots. It is clear that the word ‘expedience’ is absent from the Parmigiani Fleurier vocabulary. The chamfered edge of each bridge, presented at a 45° angle, perfectly illustrates the adroit skills practised by the craftsmen who work for this maison.
And then there is the tourbillon bridge. The expanse of specular polished metal, which sits in the southern hemisphere of the movement, is virtually, but not quite, a facsimile of the tourbillon bridge at the base of the dial. The neighbouring screws also share the same mirror-like quality, the outcome of patiently dragging a tiny part over diamantine paper in a figure of eight until a flat, blemish-free result is achieved.
The exacting execution of the movement provides the perfect foil for the beguiling spectacle of the tourbillon revolving. The tourbillon makes one complete revolution every 30 seconds, sidestepping the more customary one revolution every 60 seconds pace. This accelerated pace delivers a hypnotic sight and will readily ensnare any onlooking purist’s heart.
My fondness for the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate is most profound. When I cradled this timepiece in my deferential hands, mindful of the inordinate amount of hours spent bringing it into being, I readily succumbed to its abundant charms.
Writing about this watch, I found there was nothing to criticise. Indeed, my love for this timepiece is unreserved. Moreover, I struggled to find sufficient superlatives to convey the magnitude of its excellence.
By enjoying the capacity to start anew, Parmigiani Fleurier has not been restrained with the design of this timepiece. Everything has been optimised from the outset without the inhibition of adapting a third party movement. This is evident when appraising the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate.
There is an abundance of elegant details on this watch shown on the beautiful case and the expertly finished hand-wound movement.
However, my personal highlight of this watch is the dial canvas. It is a masterpiece, supremely attractive and, courtesy of its slate dial, incredibly clean. Indeed, considering its place of origin, this exemplar of haute horlogerie can most aptly be described as a chef-d’œuvre and is deserving of due reverence this description confers.
- Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Tourbillon Platinum Slate
- Reference: PFH251-2000200-HA1441
- Case: 950 Platinum; diameter 42.00 mm; height 11.50mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; power-reserve indicator; tourbillon.
- Movement: Calibre PF510, hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 30 jewels; power reserve one week; 237 components.
- Strap: Black Hermès alligator strap presented on an 950 platinum pin buckle.
- Price: £187,000.00 (RRP as at 12.8.2016)
- Limited Edition: 100 pieces