Parmigiani Fleurier updated its sporty, round chronograph model, the Tonda Metrographe, in 2017, streamlining its somewhat idiosyncractic, asymmetrical design to a more classically sporty three-register look — and Parmigiani being Parmigiani, it did so without sacrificing the aesthetic flourishes and distinctive technical touches that make the timepiece unmistakably its own. Here are insights from a few weeks spent with the revamped Tonda Metrographe, with an oxidized black dial and rose-gold detailing.
The round case is not overly changed from that of the original Metrographe — a satisfyingly contemporary 40 mm in diameter and 11.7 mm thick, with a host of mirror-polished finishes, and anchored to the bracelet by Parmigiani’s hallmark ergonomically curving lugs. The elegantly rounded, ovoid chronograph pushers flanking the crown are set close to the case for an understated profile; these buttons require just the gentlest of pressing to stop, start, and zero the stopwatch function. (In fact, upon close examination, their oval shape echoes that of the framed Parmigiani logo.) The crown pulls out to two positions, the first to quick-set the date, the second, full extracted position to rotate the hour and minute hands around the dial to set the time.
Where the redesigned Metrographe differs substantially from its predecessor is, of course, the dial, whose major new elements are the addition of a tachymeter scale around the dial’s periphery and the re-sized subdials, with more understated framing, for the chronograph hours and minutes at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
This new arrangement results in a more subtle version of the figure-eight design of these two subdials, which was more prominent on the original Metrographe models: the borders of the figure eight are now only slightly raised rather than defined by a flat layer of luminescent coating, which some might have found too distracting when trying to read the time in the dark.
The black, oxidized dial of my review watch is accented by rose-gold details, including the hands and the oval frame of the applied Parmigiani logo crest at 12 o’clock. Another elegant detail: the snailed decoration underneath the hour track and inside the subdials — which Parmigiani’s watchmakers achieve by means of a chasing tool that removes tiny amounts of material — adds depth to the dial with its concentric circular motif.
The small seconds counter at 3 o’clock is far from conventional, employing a double-sided hand to count off the running seconds on two concentric 30-second tracks — a device that debuted on Parmigiani’s Tonda Chronor Anniversaire and helps to set this timepiece apart from other “conventional” three-register chronographs. (The most recent versions of the Metrographe had a more conventional and understated 60-second subdial, which of course helped to further draw attention to the larger, more prominent figure eight of the two other subdials.)
Another element that visually identifies this watch’s pedigree from Michel Parmigiani’s watchmaking atelier in Fleurier is the curved date window at 12 o’clock, directly above the Parmigiani logo plate — moved from the previous Metrographe’s date position in an aperture inside the large 6 o’clock subdial. Parmigiani has reinstated the red numeral “1” on the date disk, a feature on earlier versions of the Tonda Metrographe. The numerals are in a lilting serif font; only odd-numbered days are printed, with even days represented by dot indices. The date is very legible at all times, though the clockwise motion of the disk means that, of the three date positions visible on any given day in the window, tomorrow’s date is always the one to the left, and yesterday’s to the right — not the most intuitive way to read the passage of days, as the eye tends to want to read left to right, but not overly difficult to become accustomed to. And of course, sweeping over the entire dial are Delta-shaped hour and minute hands — perhaps the most readily recognizable elements on a Parmigiani dial — slightly domed in shape and coated with luminous material.
The movement in the modern Metrographe remains the same: Parmigiani’s self-winding PF315 caliber, with 46 jewels, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a 42-hour power reserve stored in two coupled mainspring barrels. On display behind a sapphire caseback, it has been equipped with a module for the 1/4-second chronograph, created by the complication experts at Dubois Dépraz, and boasts côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges. These bridges are beveled, with polished angles, and the mainplate is decorated with perlage. The openworked rotor has a Parmigiani Fleurier “PF” emblem in a central oval.
Finally, the steel bracelet integrates very nicely into the wrist-hugging lugs of the case and draws the eye with its “lobster”-style three-row design, with large domed middle links sporting a satin-brushed finish and smaller domed end links with a polished finish. Once the bracelet was sized to my wrist, it was extraordinarily comfortable, with no pinching or irritation. After a few days of wearing the Metrographe, it became clear that this watch is a rarity among “sports luxury” chronographs in that it accessorized perfectly with both casual wear and formalwear. One would think (at least I did initially) that a Parmigiani watch with these luxurious appointments should be saved for dressy events, but more and more I found myself putting it on for weekend excursions with short-sleeved polo shirts.
All in all, most aficionados of luxury-sport chronographs should consider the makeover of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe as a success, and its streamlined, more technical look should appeal even to the diehard fans of the original. It carries a retail price of $12,000.