If you read Monochrome on a regular basis, you should know that the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 is a favorite of ours. Reasons are simple: it is a superb watch, with a great design, both elegant and slightly original (it sets apart from the masses of dress watches, without being too original) and it features a great, technical and hand-finished movement. For this 2017 edition of the SIHH, the brand comes with a great gift: the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950, now in steel (good for the wallet), still with the same micro-rotor movement and its beautiful decoration (good for amateurs) and with a few updates. Overview.
As said, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 is a great watch. It combines the elegance of a dress watch, with its 39mm case, a 7.97mm profile (slim enough to be worn with a suit, not too slim either to keep a good wrist presence), a design that can be extremely subtle at first but with great details that makes it different (see the water-drop lugs) and sleek dials, with many color options. Add to that the calibre PF701, a micro-rotor, ultra-thin movement produced in-house by sister company Vaucher, with an absolutely perfect hand-finish and you’ll have one of the greatest dress watches available on the market. We love that watch, simple as that. Still, there’s one issue. To the exception of a few limited editions with meteorite dial and titanium case, the Tonda 1950 was only available in gold (white or pink) for a price starting at 15,000 Euro. It does fly under the radar when worn, but not under your banker’s radar when you have to pay for it. Parmigiani knows that the market is not the best these days and will offer the Tonda 1950 now in steel, with two dial options – and for a much more accessible price.
Well, basically, what you could look at is a steel version of an existing watch. Yes, it shares 90% of its DNA with the existing gold models. The overall shape is the same (sleek central case with signature water-drop lugs), the display is the same (two hands + small second) and the dial looks very close. Furthermore, and that is the best of all news, the movement is exactly the same as the gold models, and not only in terms of specifications (it’s even improved…), but also in terms of finishing. Thus, you’ll have a real haute horlogerie engine in an accessible steel case. Great deal. But Parmigiani wanted to slightly differentiate the steel version from the gold editions, with one or two updates.
First of all, the case is 1mm larger, with now a 40mm diameter, and slightly thicker (8.2mm vs. 7.97mm – so to say, nothing). Being crafted in steel, it will be quite resistant to a daily wear and also lighter – some prefer the weight of gold, some the lightness of steel… Compared to the Tonda 39mm, the lugs seem to be a bit different. They still use the signature drop shape but appear slightly concave and shorter, to compensate the increase of diameter. On the wrist, the watch retain a very restrained look – for our pleasure.
The dial is also different, again to create the difference with the gold models. The Tonda 1950 Steel is available with a black or silver-coloured dial, which features an external minute track, with a similar track on the seconds counter – something that was absent of the clean, almost nude gold editions. It adds a bit of casualness to the quite dressy and rigid dial of the Tonda. Also, while the gold editions have a grained / paper-feel finish for the dials, this steel versions are more likely to have a classical opaline finish – again, no big deal and it allows to offer a more accessible watch. The hands are the same Alpha-shaped as the gold editions of the Tonda, made in polished steel with white luminescent material.
Finally, the movement. These new steel versions of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 come with the calibre PF702. The Gold editions have the calibre PF701. With my journalist’s eyes, I can’t spot any difference. The shape of the bridges, the engraving on the micro-rotor, the placement of the technical elements, the variable-inertia balance wheel or the finishing of the parts seem the same to me. Still, Parmigiani announces that the PF702 movement of the steel versions have 48h of power reserve (vs. 42h for the gold versions). It means an update of the mainspring or less energy consumption. And that is again great news. For the rest, the movement is a pleasure for the eyes, with hand-finishings all around – polished chamfers, circular graining on the main plate, Geneva stripes, polished sinks and screws… Undoubtedly pleasant.
Now comes the final hammer stroke… The price of these Steel Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950. Well, you will be able to get them (white or black) for 8,950 Euros (retail price). With a movement of this pedigree, it’s a bargain, believe us. parmigiani.com.
Specifications of the Steel Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950
- Case: 40mm diameter x 8.2mm height – stainless steel, polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistance
- Movement: Calibre PF702, in-house – automatic via micro-rotor – 2.6mm thick – 3Hz frequency – 48 hours power reserve – hours, minutes, small second
- Strap: alligator leather with steel folding buckle