Watches: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Meteorite (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on February 16, 2015

For a timepiece with such a classic design and conservative proportions as the “Tonda 1950”, Parmigiani Fleurier surely managed to create a model with a lot of character and versatility. It seems that no interpretation could alter the effortless elegance of this 39.00 mm round watch with a thickness of 7.80 mm. To the contrary, every look from ultra-classic to highly avant-garde seems to highlight the natural beauty of this timekeeper.

In a way, the Tonda 1950 is born to be appreciated in the purest and most timeless form possible and it will come as no surprise that the rose gold model with opaline dial or the white gold rendition with black dial are absolutely timeless and drop-dead gorgeous.

What may be more surprising, though, is to realise how well this frame can adapt to a less conventional titanium case and “LIGA grille” dial combination. Even when a women’s touch is added in the form of a diamond-set bezel and mother-of-pearl dial, the harmony of design is still the same.

Daring renditions like the Tonda 1950 Pomellato Turquoise with its colourful dial made of turquoise and contrasting Hermès white calfskin leather strap may not be everyone’s taste but there is no denying the watch remains elegant in more fashion-forward attire.

Earlier this year, the Manufacture also revealed the technical side of this iconic model with the Tonda 1950 Squelette and proved that a modern approach to skeleton design suits the Tonda 1950 admirably. Here again, a slightly different (frosted) sapphire placed on the face of the watch made the technical relooking even suitable for women’s wrists.

For the SIHH 2015, Parmigiani Fleurier unveiled another side of this “Tonda 1950”, namely its sportier appeal, with two “Special Edition” models boasting a refined titanium case and a stunning meteorite dial: the Tonda 1950 Black Meteorite and the Tonda 1950 Blue Meteorite!

The use of a natural material for the dial of a watch always brings another dimension to a timepiece. With its crystal structure gradually revealed by a series of acid baths and unique to each piece of meteor rock, the meteorite is no exception. Unpolished, irregular, fragmented, there is something mysterious and fascinating in its structure that perfectly complements the more rational charm of a watch’s mechanism.

Despite being extremely difficult to machine and process, Parmigiani Fleurier master dial-makers managed to come up with a way of producing two beautiful colours: an intense black and a gorgeous Abyss blue. The former has been paired with a black alligator strap and the latter received an indigo blue alligator, both from the Maison Hermès.

Combining these stunning dials with titanium was of course a way of making these models more contemporary and young than they would have been with a gold case but it is also an optimal pairing on a more philosophical point of view. Titanium is a natural element found in the period table and not an alloy like the 18-karat gold used in Haute Horlogerie and High Jewellery. It was important for the brand that something as pure and as natural as the meteorite be used to produce the case.

From a pure watchmaking viewpoint, there is no surprise as to what we find inside these two beauties: they are both powered by the excellent self-winding PF 701 calibre with a micro-rotor. This time-only movement with a small seconds at 6 o’clock is as exquisitely finished as it is technically reliable. The nickel silver main plate is sand-blasted, circular-grained, and then rhodium-plated. The bridges are sand-blasted, drawn out or Côtes de Genève decorated, then bevelled by hand and, finally rhodium-plated. All the wheels are perfectly bevelled and circular-grained on both faces before being gilded and cut and the micro-rotor beautifully hand-engraved.

I personally prefer the Tonda 1950 Blue Meteorite as I have a particular weakness for the colour blue on watches and also because in this rendition one can better appreciate the texture of the dial, but the Tonda 1950 Black Meteorite is also extremely appealing and I would be happy with either rendition. This “Special Edition Meteorite” is decidedly an extremely exciting addition to this impressive “Tonda 1950” collection. Well done!

For more information please visit the Parmigiani Fleurier web site.