Just the other week we broke the news of the (new) world’s thinnest mechanical watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Squelette, which measures only 3.60 mm in height. With such thickness (thin-ness) it broke the old record of Piaget by just 0,05 mm. However it also brings skeletonisation to the table. Today we’re introducing the new Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Tourbillon, which features the world’s thinnest automatic micro-rotor movement with a flying tourbillon.
In the last few years a select number of high-end watch brands seems to be in a prestigious battle to create the thinnest watch. Besides the thinnest watch – the honour goes to the aforementioned JLC with a skeletonised manually wound movement – there’s also the thinnest automatic movement with full rotor (I believe that this honour still goes to cal. 2121 that is used in the AP Royal Oak Ultra-Thin), the thinnest automatic with micro-rotor, thinnest minute repeater, thinnest hand wound with tourbillon and just now the thinnest automatic movement with micro-rotor and flying tourbillon. That does not means persé that the entire watch’ profile is the slimmest in its kind, however Parmigiani brings more to the table!
So the first record set by Parmigiani, is creating the thinnest automatic movement with micro-rotor and flying tourbillon that measures only 3.4 mm in height. That’s an interesting record, however this does not mean that the entire watch is the thinnest watch with automatic micro-rotor movement featuring a flying tourbillon. Since the cased up movement measures 8.65 mm in height, it’s not likely to be the thinnest automatic tourbillon watch. Nothing bad, especially when you consider that the Tonda 1950 has a high domed sapphire crystal, which also makes up for a part of the watch’ thickness. One way or another, the Tonda 1950 remains a very elegant and slim dress watch, and also with the tourbillon it is a stunning timepiece with classic looks.
Furthermore Parmigiani claims to have created the world’s lightest tourbillon cage. The entire cage is crafted from titanium and weighs only 0.255 grams. Atop the tourbillon cage is the small second hand. That’s actually a logical position for the second hand, since the tourbillon already makes a full 360 degree rotation every 60 seconds. The hand, executed in blued steel, has been designed to precisely counterbalance the weight of the other components that make up the tourbillon cage.
Another novelty, at least for Pamigiani, is the variable inertia balance instead of a screwed balance. In every mechanical watch, either the balance has to be regulated, or the balance spring (also called hair spring), or both, in order to get perfect chronometric rates. You’ll notice that most proper high-end watches feature a balance that can be regulated by means of screws in the rim of the balance, or with variable inertia (sometimes referred to as poising weights).
Variable inertia are small weights that can be rotated, in order to poise the balance, and thus regulate the rhythm of the balance. With a screw-balance, the small screws serve the same purpose as the poising weights, however these small screws protrude outwards and catch more ‘air’. The use of variable inertia offers a more streamlined structure, giving the tourbillon more stability throughout its operation.
The Tonda 1950 Tourbillon comes with a choice of dials, and that does not mean that they only offer various colours! Parmigiani is a vertically integrated company, with their own movement manufacture (Vaucher, which is co-owned with Hermès), dial manufacture Quadrance et Habillage, a case maker named Les Artisans Boîtiers (or short LAB), Atokalpa for all escapement parts including the balance spring, and Hermès supplies the straps. This means that the company has an enormous artistic freedom and the collection shows that they use this to the fullest. The choice of dials comprises a white or black jade dial, a grained white dial, and a blue abyss dial with Côtes de Genève decoration.
And there’s a fifth choice, being a grey mother of pearl dial. The grey mother of pearl version features, similar to the other variations and the original Tonda 1950, sleek, tapered indices. The bezel of the white gold case is set with stones , and in crown you will find a real ruby cabochon.
Some Specs & Price
- Case: 18k rose or white gold, 40.20 mm in diameter and 8.65 mm thick, polished, 30 meters water-resistant
- Movement: Calibre PF517, automatic winding with micro rotor, 42 hours of power reserve, 21,600 vph (#Hz), 3.4 mm thick, 205 individual components, circular Côtes de Genève striping, hand-bevelled bridges
- Strap: alligator leather strap by Hermès, with tang/ardillon buckle in the same colour gold as the case (18K)
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Tourbillon will be priced at $130,000 USD, except the diamond set version with mother of pearl dial and genuine ruby cabochon come at a price of $135,000 USD.