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Tourbillons  - Weighing your Tourbillon Options

Tourbillons Weighing your Tourbillon Options

Same frame of mind, different executions, totally different weight. These two timepieces are in fact as night and day

Isn't it strange how brands sometimes come up with the same products at the same time ? It's even funnier seeing them simultaneously at opposite sides of a specific spectrum. During Watches & Wonders 2022, a few hours apart, I tried on two tourbillon watches that look quite similar. Yet, on the wrist, they're as far apart as one can imagine.

What unites the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon and Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton is their spirit. They're both full metal timepieces, with integrated bracelet, both very swanky. Both are fitted with high end movements, each featuring an unusual approach to automatic winding. They both belong to the same category, very chic and on the sporty side. Their sizes are similar, 42 vs. 42.5 mm. But in their tech specs lies a heavyweight difference.

 

Weighing your tourbillon options

Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon © Parmigiani Fleurier

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton is entirely made of titanium while the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon goes full platinum. Their respective densities are heralded by their face. The former is a skeleton, the latter has a full dial. And putting each one on is equally surprising.

Weighing your tourbillon options

PF Flying Tourbillon, full platinum, 225 g © David Chokron/WorldTempus

The full metal look of the Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton is puzzling at first. The eye can't identity what it's made of exactly. Familiarity kicks in and one wonders why Vacheron Constantin is showing this watch as a novelty. As a matter of fact, this is their first ever all-titanium timepiece. Holding it is like lifting pumice. One expects a certain mass and ends up with much, much less. Muscles face so little resistance the arm even goes up a bit. Comfort turns out to be extraordinary. One almost ends up forgetting it's there, even though it looks so sophisticated. And yet its calibre 2160SQ is fitted with a 22k gold annular rotor.

Weighing your tourbillon options

Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton © Vacheron Constantin

One doesn't expect much in the way of weight when first glancing upon the Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon. There it is, one thinks. They've made a version of the Tonda PF, their incredible best-seller, with an in-house tourbillon movement. That was to be expected. And then the weight kicks in and it's unbelievable. Platinum is so dense ! 4.75 times more so as titanium : almost 5 times heavier at identical volume. Yet balance on the wrist is perfect. Load distribution is optimal and even though they're not quite used to it, the arm and hand muscles settle in...or they don't. 225 grams, that's not for everyone. The case and bracelet are not alone in creating such mass. Caliber PF517 is fitted with a micro-rotor made of...solid platinum

Weighing your tourbillon options

Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton, full titanium, 110 g © David Chokron /WorldTempus

In truth, the difference in perception of these timepieces reflects that of consumer choices. There's a platinum fan club. Its members like the weight, the constant reminder of value, the ultimate luxury. Comfort comes last. Titanium has its aficionados. They like its weightlessness, forgetting it's there, the ultimate luxury of premium comfort. Can these two preferences be reconciled ? That's highly doubtful. These are two timepieces, and mentalities, too far apart, despite appearances.

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