Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Tourbillon
When a maison d’haute horlogerie wants to challenge itself, a tourbillon is not enough, it will go further, always looking for new solutions to make the caliber thinner. We saw that with the Arnold & Son UTTE, or with the Breguet Classique “Grande Complication” Tourbillon Extra-Thin.
This week, Parmigiani Fleurier presented their response to this trend, the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon, powered by PF517 movement with a thickness of only 3.4 mm. Considering that this is an automatic movement with a flying tourbillon, Parmigiani just set the barrier a lot higher — or thinner if you wish — for all the other brands.
Let’s take a closer look at how this feat was achieved.
First of all, when a watchmaker wants to make an automatic calibre thin, the most probable solution they will chose is a micro-rotor, as it is directly integrated in the main plate and it won’t add an extra layer to the movement. The 517 is no different, featuring one crafted from platinum. The most difficult part that Parmigiani had to solve, is managing to integrate the micro-rotor, the barrel, the tourbillon cage, the time-setting mechanism and the central display system in the same main plate. An easier solution would have been to offset the time display, but Parmigiani Fleurier preferred to go with its own approach, by arranging all the components in a way that keeps the time display centered.
To economize on space, Parmigiani Fleurier created a “flying” tourbillon whose special feature is a cage mounted on a single support bridge. A highly sophisticated ball bearing replaces the mounting function, without adding to the thickness of the movement. Flush with the surface and therefore visible in the foreground, the cage appears to float weightlessly in front of the movement.
The tourbillon cage made of titanium, weighting only 0.255 grams, is the world’s lightest. Usually, tourbillon cages are made of steel and by opting for titanium, Pargiani Fleurier was fully aware that they are taking a risk as titanium is very flammable during machining, and very difficult to produce in such small dimensions. However, it is thanks to titanium that the Manufacture is able to produce the world’s lightest tourbillon cage. It’s very low weight and inertia enable rotational movement with almost no loss of torque. The tourbillon’s efficiency is increased and the chronometry of the timepiece improved.
The tourbillon cage is equipped with an inertia balance which offers a very streamlined design. It differs from a traditional balance, on which the screws protrude outwards. This offers a much more streamlined structure, giving the tourbillon more stability throughout its operation.
The Tonda 1950 Tourbillon is now available with five dial versions: grey mother of pearl, white or black jade, grained white, and blue abyss with Côtes de Genève decoration.
The three part round case, measuring 40.2 mm in diameter and 8.65 mm in height, is crafted from 18 ct rose gold, or 18 ct white gold.