The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronograph Steel
An integrated, high-frequency chronograph movement inside a luxury sports watch that whispers understatement and refinement.
Parmigiani Fleurier‘s Tonda PF collection was unveiled in September 2021, coinciding with the brand’s 25th anniversary. Marking CEO Guido Terreni’s first collection at the helm of the brand, the Tonda PF, is a refined interpretation of an integrated bracelet timepiece (aka luxury sports watch). The key concepts during the development of the Tonda PF collection were understatement, elegance and fine craftsmanship, essential features of Michel Parmigiani’s approach to watchmaking at Parmigiani Fleurier since its foundation in 1996. Clearly targeting purists who don’t want to knock somebody’s teeth out with their XXL lumed-out chronograph, the Tonda PF is comprised of four models, including the chronograph we’ll look at today and the magnificent platinum split-seconds model we reviewed earlier. Equipped with an integrated in-house chronograph movement with a column wheel and a high frequency of 5Hz, the case and dial reflect the elegant pared-down aesthetic pursued by the two men who are defining the brand’s roadmap: Michel Parmigiani and Guido Terreni.
Michel Parmigiani started his career as a restorer of antique timepieces, including the priceless collection of automata and clocks belonging to the Sandoz Family Foundation. Talking to Michel Parmigiani in 2015 for The Jewellery Editor, he described the exceptional joy of “freeing an antique clock or a pocket watch from the ravages of time” and “the beauty of breathing life into antique objects“. His impressive horological culture and backing of the Sandoz Foundation led to the creation of the brand Parmigiani Fleurier in 1996.
Michel Parmigiani’s respect for the past and his refined taste have resulted in a very personal array of watches that are now represented by three main families – Tonda, Toric and Kalpa. There are also ‘exceptional pieces’, like the world’s first Hijri perpetual calendar fitted inside a wristwatch or the exceptional La Rose Carrée pocket watch, a beautifully restored 19th-century grande sonnerie and minute repeater movement housed in a stunning case showcasing the brand’s high level of artistic crafts.
In January 2021, Guido Terreni, the man behind the remarkable turnaround of Bvlgari’s watch division with the contemporary ultra-thin record-breaking Octo Finissimo collection, was appointed CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier. In charge of Bvlgari’s watch division since 2009, Guido Terreni repositioned the Italian luxury brand as one of the best global watch brands. Our team met up with Terreni during Geneva Watch Days to record a video about the first Parmigiani Fleurier collection launched under his tenure: the Tonda PF collection.
As Terreni recognises, Michel Parmigiani has a very independent mindset, and Parmigiani Fleurier is very much a niche brand. Parmigiani’s vast technical knowledge is combined with the “important value of understatement“, a feature that caters to a clientele with a taste for refinement, not ostentation. The Tonda PF collection, a luxury sports watch line-up, captures many signature design codes of the brand with what Terreni describes as a “sartorial attention to detail“.
Coinciding with PF’s 25th anniversary, the Tonda PF luxury sports watch collection was launched in four models: the pristine time & date Micro-Rotor model, the high-frequency Chronograph, the Annual Calendar with retrograde date and the spectacular all-platinum Split Seconds Chronograph. Without getting into the interminable debate of whether or not the Tonda PF Collection qualifies as a luxury sports watch (please read Brice’s in-depth article on this subject), the facts are that it does have an integrated bracelet, it is water-resistant to 100 metres, and it doesn’t imitate the shaped case of a Nautilus or a Royal Oak.
Shared features across all models are the PF logo in an oval cartouche, the grain d’orge guilloché dial pattern (not featured on the split-seconds chrono), the gold delta-shaped skeletonised hands, the knurled bezel, the short applied gold indices, and of course, the high-end in-house movements.
The Tonda PF Chronograph
Also available in 22k rose gold, we spent some time with the steel model. The case, which measures 42mm across and has a height of 12.4mm, is executed in stainless steel with a platinum bezel. The screw-down crown for water resistance is flanked by two PF teardrop-shaped chronograph pushers that echo the signature PF teardrop lugs. Since this watch is all about refined details, the case displays a mix of polished and satin-finished surfaces. The casebands and the internal links of the integrated bracelet are finely satin-finished, and looking closely, you can see the thin lines in the metal. The crown, pushers, and the surface of the bracelet’s external links are brightly polished. It might not be easy to appreciate, but the raised, stepped bezel, with its hand-knurled and hand-polished platinum periphery and polished interior, emits a whiter, more radiant shine than steel. Those of you familiar with the brand will recognise the hand-knurled bezel that is also featured on other Tonda and Toric models.
As Terreni points out in the video, the streamlined yet simple bracelet is like a second skin and sits beautifully on the wrist thanks to its ergonomic design and hallmark teardrop lugs that flow so smoothly from the casebands.
There are many references to tailoring in the brand’s new communication strategy – not surprising given Terreni’s Italian background and appreciation of Italy’s sartorial tradition. The analogy works particularly well when addressing the dial with its miniature guilloché grain d’orge pattern that looks almost like the material of a suit. Unlike many luxury sports watches with stamped dials that look like guillochage, the PF Tonda dial is executed by hand in Fleurier using a rose lathe machine; given the small size of the pattern, it must have required a lot of magnifying devices and a very steady hand. Described as ‘Milano Blue’, the colour of the dial is complemented by the three sub-dials with their greyish-blue rings that don’t disrupt the serene and impressively uncluttered dial. With 30-second and 12-hour chronograph registers at 3 and 9 o’clock and small seconds at 6 o’clock, the three sub-dials are also slightly recessed and decorated with a micro-sandblasted blue background, just like the date window at 4 o’clock. Made of solid gold, the slim delta-shaped hour and minute hands are openworked, while the chronograph hands and small seconds are made of rhodium-plated steel.
Another novelty introduced in the new Tonda PF collection is the brand logo placed inside an oval cartouche appliqué at noon. Although Michel Parmigiani designed it as a hallmark for precious metal cases and to be engraved on movements, the medallion had never appeared on the dial before. Getting rid of the brand name inscribed in full was a good idea for this collection, reducing the amount of information on the dial to pursue the ‘understated’ spirit outlined for the watches. The peripheral area of the dial features a detailed sandblasted seconds/minutes track for the central chronograph hand. You’ll notice a very slight dip on the seconds track and how the hand-applied white gold rhodium-plated indices rest on the track and extend onto the dial.
The sapphire crystal caseback reveals the in-house automatic calibre PF070, an integrated, high-frequency column-wheel chronograph movement with a 22k rose gold openworked rotor decorated with the PF medallion. A COSC-certified chronometer with a 5Hz/36,000vph frequency, the 315-component movement delivers a 65-hour power reserve. Finishings are in line with PF’s high level of watchmaking and include hand-bevelled edges as well as sandblasted and polished details on the rotor.
Availability and Price
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronograph in steel with blue dial (reference PFC915-1020001-100182) is not limited and retails for CHF 28,000. More information at Parmigiani.com.
Lovely watch, but with one fatal flaw. From a design point of view – the fine vertical patterns on the bezel and the fine radial fine patterns on the dial clash. A little too much. It’s like wearing a checked tie with a striped shirt. Avoid if you can – but if you must, atleast make sure that the size of the patterns are different.
My big problem with PF – would love to own their watches but they consistently lack coherence in design.
I don’t know. Feels like they worked real hard to deliver a great chronograph, then at the last minute someone realized oops we forgot the date window and voila, a square opening on a full round design in the middle of nowhere, take that! An interesting choice…
I was thingking the same @phil, not even 4,5 but placed evenly between the subdials. Maybe in the subdial at 6 would be better or just leave it out.