Watches: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 42 Tourbillon Solo de Jazz

By Thierry Ané on July 30, 2015

Even if the sources for inspiration are generally extremely different, the very few elite brands that are unveiling true “Métiers d’Art” timepieces often resort to the same decorative techniques to create their works of art. Surprisingly, though, and despite yielding stunning results, one such craft has remained relatively uncommon: the wood marquetry.

Yet, applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures is a very ancient artistic approach that has been extremely successful to enhance furniture over the course of many centuries.

Watch enthusiasts may remember that Cartier brought back this decorative skill into fashion in 2011 with the superb Rotonde Jumping Hours Bear Wood Marquetry. But apart from a recent use by Vacheron Cosntantin in 2014 for two masterpieces of the "L'Eloge de la Nature" trilogy: namely the Chamois and Horses, Parmigiani Fleurier stands out as the only high-end brand with a lasting experience with the craft.

One of the previous music-inspired creations from Parmigiani Fleurier using Wood Marquetry, the Tonda 42 Tourbillon Woodstock

For the history lesson and also for the pleasure of discussing these beauties again, let me briefly remind you of the exceptional wood marquetry creations presented so far by this Manufacture. It all started in 2013 with the magnificent Tonda 42 Tourbillon Woodstock also available in platinum and featuring a Gibson guitar overlaying the Union Jack flag. The brand then moved to another collection, the “Pershing”, but retained the music-inspired theme for the Pershing Tourbillon Samba Madeira released the same year. Last year, in honour of the Montreux Jazz Festival the brand's gifted artisans also created the Tonda 42 Tourbillon Mambo.

The newly unveiled Tonda 42 Tourbillon Solo de Jazz thus represents the brand’s fifth experiment with wood marquetry. For this new creation, the brand came back to the prestigious and timeless “Tonda 42 Tourbillon” model. Inside the elegant 42 mm case with a thickness of just 11.50 mm beats the manually-wound PF 510 calibre. Entirely developed in the Fleurier workshops, this high-end calibre offers central hours, minutes and seconds as well as a sectorial power reserve at 12 o’clock indicating the energy left on its impressive 7 days of autonomy. A generous aperture at 6 o’clock provides an uncluttered view of the tourbillon escapement under its perfectly polished bridge.

The drawing used to create the dial of the Tonda 42 Tourbillon Solo de Jazz

As all Parmigiani Fleurier models, the Tonda 42 Tourbillon Solo de Jazz is mounted on a strap crafted by Hermès talented artisans. For this new creation it is in Havana brown alligator to offer a luxurious and refined complement to the polished rose gold case. The future owner (yes, singular as the watch is a unique creation) will be able to appreciate the outstanding Fleurier finish of the movement through the sapphire crystal placed on the back of the watch.

The elaborate process of selection, cutting and assembling of the tiny pieces of wood to produce the desired result

Like every “Métiers d’Art” timepiece, though, the real attention-grabber remains the exquisite dial. Tiny pieces of veneer are cut with the utmost precision to represent a musician playing the trumpet. Walnut, Ceylon lemon tree or boxwood: an entire palette of wood is selected for its colour and texture in order to create the most refined illustration in all shades of beige and grey. The Tonda 42 Tourbillon Solo de Jazz is undoubtedly an outstanding addition to the list of magnificent wood marquetry creations this Manufacture has introduced. It will stand out in the collection of one lucky watch lover, however large and impressive it can already be!

For more information please visit the Parmigiani Fleurier web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: