Earlier this week at the inaugural Watches & Wonders Miami, the under-the-radar-watch-manufacturer Parmigiani Fleurier debuted its new Tonda Annual Calendar. A subtle yet stylish evolution of the Tonda Quator, launched by the brand in 2011, the new Tonda Annual Calendar pairs a complex mechanical movement with an attractive and easy to read display, presenting a viable alternative to the more mainstream brands. We were lucky enough to get a preview of the watch before its official launch and it did not disappoint.
I don’t know about you, but I love the Annual Calendar complication. Sure, it’s not as functional (or as cool) as a perpetual calendar, but it’s also nowhere near as expensive. Plus, I actually regularly look at my watch to check the date and so knowing I only have to correct it once a year instead of five times is a pretty big selling point for me. As an added bonus, the Parmigiani Tonda Annual Calendar is calibrated for 29 days in February, which means every leap year, you don’t have to worry about adjusting it at all.
Presented in a 40mm round case crafted from your choice of 18ct rose gold with a white grained dial or white gold with a black opaline dial, the Tonda Annual Calendar straddles the line between elegant dress watch and everyday wear. It’s practical and functional, yet refined and sophisticated at the same time. At first glance, you might mistake it for the earlier Tonda Quator, but look closer and you will notice the brand has made several subtle changes to the watch to further enhance not only its aesthetic appeal but also its legibility.
For a start, the bezel has been made thinner to create more space for the dial, allowing for the minute track to be transferred to the outer periphery in the form of a chapter ring. Previously, it appeared in the inner part of the dial and was interrupted at several points by the Annual Calendar indicators. Not only does this allow for a more accurate reading of the precise time, but it also just looks cleaner in my opinion. The delta-shaped hands, coated with luminescent material, are also slimmer and more elongated than previous versions, whilst still maintaining a sense of proportion with the rest of the dial.
Likewise, the Annual Calendar indicators have been made slightly smaller and easier to read, with the days of the week appearing on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock and the months on the sub-dial at 3 o’clock, both indicated by blued hands. The months are now shown in a more classic abbreviated form, whereas previously they were listed as numbers from 1 – 12. Arcing around the top half of the dial is the retrograde date display, with the current date indicated by blued hand with a red crescent tip. I don’t love the fact that some of the numbers of the date are obscured behind the annual day and month sub-dials, but I understand why the design had to be this way and I think it’s a worthwhile compromise, which doesn’t detract too much from overall legibility.
At 6 o’clock the eye is drawn to Parmigiani’s precision moon phase, which represents the age of the moon in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Capable of compensating for the difference between a classic lunar cycle (29 days and 12 hours) and the actual lunar cycle (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds), it only requires correcting once every 122 years. Assuming it’s kept running that entire time of course. Set against a stunning aventurine glass sky complete with twinkling stars, the moon discs and surrounding display are hewn from solid rose gold.
Turning the watch over, a sapphire caseback offers a nice view of the automatic calibre PF339 inside. Based on the manufacturer’s PF331 automatic movement, it features an additional Retorgrade Annual Calendar module with precision moon phase. Impressively thin at just 5.5mm, it’s equipped with a series-mounted double barrel and offers up to 50 hours of power reserve. Crafted from 359 components, it has been finished to the high standard we’ve come to expect from Parmigiani, including hand-bevelled bridges with Côtes de Genève decoration. The oscillating weight is in solid rose gold and is adorned with an attractive guilloché barley grain motif.
On the wrist, the Tonda Annual Calendar is comfortable and attractive, and I could imagine myself wearing it in a variety of situations, which is an important consideration for any major watch purchase. Parmigiani hasn’t provided an official case height in the press release, but the Tonda Quator was 11.2mm thick and this looks and feels very similar (if not the same). It’s not slim by dress watch standards but it’s certainly not bulky either and I really do love those distinctive ‘tear-drop’ shaped curved lugs.
Presented on a black alligator strap made by Hermès, the new Parmigiani Tonda Annual Calendar is 30m water resistant and is available in either white or rose gold for CHF 29,600. More on www.parmigiani.com.