The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe
30 minutes on the wrist with the
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe
I discovered the brand Parmigiani Fleurier, by chance, ten years ago. I'm crazy about cars and an avid reader of fine mechanics books. I was reading through an article about a new Bugatti while, into a small part of that page was a photo and a description about a timepiece dedicated to that car; its name was Parmigiani Fleurier Bugatti Type 370.
The desire to create something unique named after the most powerful and exclusive among modern hypercars gave life to a product even more exclusive than the car it was going to celebrate: a horizontal mechanical marvel such as the 370 had never been conceived nor anybody had even talked about a "time machine" until then.
Eight years before, in 1996, Michel Parmigiani had founded the manufacture that was named after him thanks to the support given by illustrious patrons, represented by the Sandoz family. They gave a young Michel their vintage watches to be fully recovered and he, a man grown up with a burning passion for Swiss watchmaking, had perfectly restored them. His skills were so evident that the Sandoz supported him in setting up one of the very few integrated manufactures, which make the most (if not 100%) of their components fully in-house, making his dream come true by creating the maison Parmigiani Fleurier.
I've waited ten years before going hands on with a Parmigiani Fleurier, a brand whose timepieces produced per year are very few and its retailers carefully selected. If you live in Milan, the official retailer is Pisa Orologeria and you need to meet one of its experts in haute horlogerie, such as Antonio Bergo, to discover the Parmigiani Fleurier's history and the Parmigiani Metrographe, the luxury chronograph sports watch for him from the Tonda collection.
In Parmigiani Fleurier's mission statement the term “Restoration” is often used; I've tried to give it a proper Italian meaning but I do think that nothing is as meaningful as the english word, that is all about restoring Swiss traditional watchmaking, Michel's desire since the quartz revolution spread in Europe in 1970, perhaps because of a poor vision from the Swiss industrial watchmakers too. The Parmigiani Metrographe's design is classic yet sporty and has in the case shape, lugs and dial its three main features.
The case is round and 40mm wide, lugs are in the shape of a tear drop but they do somehow remind me the most classic part of an engine (a cam). Their shape is intentionally asymmetric (but you need to take a closer look at the dial to get it) for, on the right hand side of the carrure, they are elongated to protect the winding crown and make a single block case.
The Parmigiani Metrographe is a chronograph, whose registers feature a classic V displacement design with a special touch: the minute and hour counters are enhanced and in the shape of an eight, a number that often recurs in a Parmigiani Fleurier's design language as unmistakable are its delta shaped hour and minute hands. On the black dial version these two counters are covered with SuperLuminova too.
In-house caliber PF315, visible through the transparent case back secured to the case via four tiny screws, is automatic, made of 351 parts and has the balance wheel that vibrates at 4Hz, is Cotes de Gènève decorated but has in its thickness one of its greatest strenghts, as it has made Parmigiani possible to design a 12,2mm thick watch.
The Metrographe is very comfortable on the wrist either on a stainless steel and titanium bracelet or on a leather calf strap, black or brown. In both cases you may choose it with a black dial (or a green one) with rhodium plated applied indexes or with a champagne dial and a mixture of applied indexes and Arabic numerals made of rose gold. The first one retails for 10.900€, 400€ less for the leather strap version. The steel on steel is unrivaled if you're in search of comfort as it is way perfect even during summer, is not that heavy and the bracelet design is aesthetically fully integrated (on the outside as well as on the inside), included the hidden folding clasp but I think the stainless steel case on leather strap is unrivaled in terms of look and feel.
The mixture of rose gold indexes and the leather strap with red border provided by Hermès is truly appealing. About its price: it is not that cheap and, moreover, if you're looking for a chrono it is hard to decide what to choose out there. If you're looking for other timepieces in the benchmark be ready however to discard all the industrial brands that do offer similar chronographs in terms of features, are technically very good but are produced on a large scale. Not so many Parmigiani Metrographe timepieces are produced each year, they do boast a manufacture movement, are handmade and need an expert's description.
For futher info please visit the Parmigiani Fleurier 's official website.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Karin Vettorel)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter - Watches & Luxury