At SIHH 2015, Parmigiani shortly debuted a duo of skeletonized watches for “him and her” in the Tonda collection known as the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches. At the time, Parmigiani only mentioned the 18k white gold version for men and the 18k rose gold model with the diamond-decorated bezel with frosted dial for women. It appears as though Parmigiani decided to produce two variations of the watch for men as well as three variations of the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette for women.
Certainly, these timepieces all begin with the still very successful Parmigiani Tonda 1950 case which we enjoyed ever since Parmigiani debuted it a few years ago. While there are some larger versions of the case, the 39mm-wide Parmigiani Tonda 1950 is still the most versatile model, offering a truly unisex look that, depending on the decoration and dial, looks great on both men and women. What is added in the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches is a skeletonized version of Parmigiani’s popular and very attractive in-house-made automatic micro-rotor-based movement.
Skeletonized luxury watches are becoming more and more popular for good reason, and it signals the fact that when it comes to paying big bucks for a mechanical timepiece, collectors are deeply interested in the movement. They are so interested that they not only want to view the movements, but they also want to see them generously decorated. There is a reason we sometimes use the term “movement porn” to describe the view of a wonderful mechanical movement – especially when it has been lovingly skeletonized. Seeing stuff like this can be a very intense emotional experience, showcasing the glorious operation of what is actually a very simple machine in a way that is very attractive.
People don’t often tend to give enough credit to movement decoration. I would feel comfortable saying that at least 50% of the appeal of a mechanical movement is the decoration. That means less decorated mechanical movements are far less appealing, while wonderfully decorated movements are much more appealing. Take, for instance, the famed work of Philippe Dufour – prized almost exclusively for the fact that his finishing is legendary.
Frankly speaking, we love movements and movement finishing, and I think people need to be more cognizant of this. Finishing is also one of those rare areas that remains tightly within the luxury space. The time and effort required to meticulously hand-finish and decorate most of the tiny metal pieces that go into a mechanical movement isn’t something that you can rush or do on the cheap. I don’t care what functionality or complexity less expensive mechanical movements can replicate, high-end finishing is something that will always come with a premium price. I would venture so far as to suggest that in many high-end watches, most of the time involved in actually producing that watch is in finishing and decoration.
Getting back to the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches, I’d like to point out the high level of careful finishing and polish on these movements, done in a way that is not over the top but really emphasizes the inherent beauty of industrial finishes such as brushed or polishes surfaces. Thanks to some very close-up photography, you can identify small imperfections and lines that only a human could make. A trained eye can often immediately tell you whether a watch movement has been finished by hand or machine – and the human effort is almost universally more attractive. Perhaps, there is something innately attractive about seeing that work is “human.” That is, after, all the fantasy of buying luxury timepieces – that someone skilled and far away dedicated intense amounts of time to put it together… for your wearing pleasure.
After viewing the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches, I was much more impressed than my initial reaction. I actually feel that the particular style and design is stunning – mixing legibility with a fantastic view of the skeletonized movements. Part of this is thanks to a thin transparent dial that sits over the movement which has been applied with thin tapered hour markers and lume-filled hands. On two of the women’s models of the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette, Parmigiani has included a white frosted dial that in reality looks amazingly interesting and feminine. The idea there is to offer a glimpse at the skeletonized movement powering the watch without that element being the main focus.
The Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches for women with the frosted dials emphasize a slick combination of horological fascination with an elegantly feminine and celebratory feel, with a diamond-decorated bezel. I actually do think that this is one of the most impressive skeletonized watches for women currently available. At the same time, if there is a female interested in the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette who wants the full skeletonized experience, there is a model with the much more transparent dial like the men’s models – yet with the diamond bezel and a more feminine strap.
The movement that we are talking about is the in-house-made Parmigiani caliber PF705 with 42 hours of power reserve operating at 3Hz (21,600 bph). Produced from 144 parts with an automatic micro-rotor, the movement has been richly and artistically skeletonized with a lot of lovely hand-beveling and other polishes as well as some light engraving in the automatic rotor. Everything has been minimized so the movement indicates just the time with hours and minutes.
Don’t forget that the PF705 also happens to be a very thin movement, at just 2.6mm thick. Inside the watch, the entire Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette is just 7.97mm thick. That might not be record breaking, but it does qualify as an impressively low profile timepiece which is good for both comfort and sleeves. Just don’t take the watch swimming, with its 30 meters of water resistance.
For men, the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette is offered in both 18k white or 18k rose gold. The former is matched to a black Hermes alligator strap, while the latter comes on a brown one. On the wrist, these really look smashing – combining an high-taste elegance with a distinct appeal for horological aficionados that is not at all “watch nerdy.”
Women also get 18k white gold and 18k rose gold versions of the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette with the frosted dial and diamond-set bezel. It isn’t a huge amount of diamonds, which helps the watch look a lot more “tasteful.” As I mentioned, there is also a non-frosted dial version of the ladies’ Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette in 18k rose gold only. The rose gold watches for women come on “cord” colored brown Hermes alligator straps, while the white gold model comes on a red alligator strap.
Comfortable, easy on the eyes, and with a beautiful yet not over-the-top style of decoration, these Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Squelette watches are not cheap, priced at $39,500 for the men’s and $46,000 for the ladies’ versions, however easy to lust for and should make enough watch lovers quite happy.