December 1, 2022
Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène

Unveiled in 2016, the Tonda Métropolitaine is a feminine piece designed to represent the lunar phases. With its two bronze-coloured lunar discs, which appear and disappear behind the wisps of a cloud, the Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène has the hallmarks of a conventional moon phase model. Despite this classic appearance, this timepiece features numerous distinctive touches. Its russet-coloured moon radiates a magical glow. It is magnified thanks to its surface made up of craters obtained by applying successive layers of transfers, a complex process which involves great skill.

Lotus flower

The aesthetic power of the piece resides in the lotus flower – which blooms at night, just as the moon appears, also symbolises the female gait – adorning the centre of the dial.

The flower is created using mother-of-pearl lace designs measuring barely 0.2 mm thick, applied in two layers. The first underlying sheet is varnished then satin-finished, providing a contrast with the upper polished layer. The alternating satin-finished and polished surfaces produce a captivating reflection, which is further enhanced by the inherent depth effects of the two mother-of-pearl layers.

Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène

© Parmigiani Fleurier

In 2017, two dial colours – a pastel pink and a subtle sky blue – have been added to the existing versions in Abyss blue and white. The colours of these two special editions are obtained by applying a varnish to the back of the underlying mother-of-pearl sheet, which suffuses through to the surface, enhancing the reflections generated by the material. The bezel, which is set with 72 brilliant cut diamonds, and a “pearly white” leather strap, enhance the rich, lustrous texture to envelop the wrist. The indices, in 18 carat solid gold, stand out elegantly from the dial.

Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène

© Parmigiani Fleurier

Moon phase

The PF318 movement and its moon phase module were entirely manufactured in the Parmigiani Fleurier workshops. The moon phase operating principle is based on a gear moved by the hour wheel, which rotates at half the speed of the gear. This means that the gear drives the moon disc every 24 hours via a flexible blade integrated in the centre of its wheel.

Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène

Movement PF318 © Parmigiani Fleurier

A corrector at 9 o’clock enables the wearer to independently index the moon in relation to the day and date in order to match its phase to the geographic reference location. This moon correction device features a safety system thanks to the blade, which is flexible to prevent irreparable damage to the gear in the event of incorrect operation.

The PF318 self-winding movement has a power reserve of 50 hours and excellent isochronism thanks to its two series-mounted barrels that regulate the power reserve. Visible through the watch’s transparent case back, this calibre is entirely circular-grained, decorated with Côtes de Genève and bevelled to the finest haute horlogerie standards customarily applied in the L’autoritratto Parmigianino manufacture.

Tonda Métropolitaine Sélène

No, the case design is not for all wrists, but then again… it sure is not meant to be. Dimensions are 37.6mm wide by 44.8mm tall and 12.2mm thick. It wears a bit larger than it seems, given the broad lugs, also in 18k rose gold it seems absolutely lovely. I want to use the phrase “elegance” again to explain my view of how it seems. To me this implies it’s the graceful curves of an organic kind, while also being aesthetically pleasing to the eye with a cohesive form. It’s essentially a dress watch that gets extra attention since it is different, but in no way misplaced or of questionable taste. The fact that it’s a fancy tourbillon is the pricey icing on the cake.As much as I can think about, Parmigiani knows the Ovale XL case is unique, and doesn’t use it for anything under $50,000 USD. That is a shame because I would love for there to be a steel or ceramic model using a simple automated movement (still in the tonneau-shape) that is priced considerably less. It would serve as a slightly more daring counterpart to the Parmigiani Tonda 1950. I find the relative width of the strap (thanks to the wide lugs) for a flattering appearance, and in addition, it will help enrich the formal, yet masculine stance of the timepiece’s in general form. The case also happens to be water-resistant to 30m. A 30 next tourbillon will spin faster (obviously) compared to the usual 60 second tourbillon, and thus its actual objective is to supply an improved feeling of visual cartoon on the dial.