Let me introduce you to the Tonda MÃ©tropolitane SÃ©lÃ¨ne. It’s an automatic ladies’ piece by Parmigiani Fleurier that was released almost a year ago. I was finally able to spend some time with this watch, and, try as I might, I can’t quite identify with it. Maybe I’m jaded, maybe I’m asking for too much, or maybe I’m just not sure of what I want in a watch. But what I do know is that this watch doesn’t speak to me the way so many others do. Now allow me to explain why.
The SÃ©lÃ¨ne starts with a 33mm stainless steel case, with or without diamonds, and with or without a bracelet. There are two dial styles too, silver and navy blue. The watch we have here has the blue dial, has diamonds on the bezel, and is worn on a navy blue strap. The modest case has an unusual shape with downturned, semi-tear-drop lugs applied to the side of the case.
The SÃ©lÃ¨ne is powered by the automatic (yay!) caliber PF318 with a pierced rotor and the watch has a sapphire crystal caseback to show it all off. For me, the back is the most interesting part of this watch â Parmigiani knows what it’s doing when it comes to finishing and this movement is a fun one to look at.
It’s the other side that gives me pause. Let’s start with the matte navy dial with mother-of-pearl inlay. Usually I love a good navy dial, but I think the particular shade of blue, combined with the matte texture, makes this one fall a little flat. There’s just no wow factor. The mother-of-pearl inlay occupies the center of the dial in a symmetrical lace pattern. Because women like frilly things like lace, right? The dial also features applied yellow gold dagger indexes and bold gold hands with large sections of white lume.
The dial has a large subsidiary seconds dial at six o’clock with a rather clunky cut-out at the bottom. As polarizing as I know this statement is around HODINKEE HQ, I personally like a date function on my watches. It is, after all, the second most relevant bit of information on a watch. But I find the date window on the Selene a little crude â it doesn’t seem to fit the proportions and styling of the rest of the dial at all. At 12 o’clock is the moonphase aperture, with a rose gold moon peeking through. It shows some of the texture of the lunar surface and is quite well done and refined. It’s my favorite feature on the dial side of the watch.
Let me just say at this point that I respect Parmigiani as a watchmaker. The men’s pieces, while certainly not to everyone’s tastes, are technologically solid and sometimes seriously interesting, like the Pantograph and the Centum Perpetual Calendar, for example. Parmigiani also makes some straight-up beautiful timepieces, like the Tonda 1950 with meteorite dial, so it is clear to me that the brand does make attractive watches with impressive capabilities. That’s not in question here at all.
Even with this watch, I give Parmigiani credit for using an automatic movement with an open sapphire back, and for giving this watch a reasonable $14,800 price tag. This is (sadly) fairly modest for a women’s watch these days, especially one with diamonds.
But the SÃ©lÃ¨ne, like most a lot of ladies’ watches, feels like an afterthought, a mere checklist of what the maker thinks makes up a ladies’ watch. Diamonds? Check. Moonphase? Check. Mother-of-pearl? Check. 33mm? Check. It’s more paint-by-numbers than Mona Lisa, which would explain why it leaves me so flat.Â
To be fair, Parmigiani Fleurier isn’t the only manufacture to fall into this trap. I hope to see a shift in this trend and a move towards more thoughtful women’s pieces in the future. Luckily SIHH is right around the corner, so I shouldn’t have to wait too long.
For more information, visit Parmigiani Fleurier online.