All-New Parmigiani Tonda PF Collection: Elegant Simplicity, Even When Complicated
by Martin Green
Time flies when you’re having fun! This must surely have gone through the mind of Michel Parmigiani when he realized that his manufacture is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021. Many highlights by Parmigiani have delighted watch aficionados over the past quarter of a century, but what better way to celebrate them than with new highlights?
So for 2021 Parmigaini introduces the new Tonda PF, a collection consisting of four watches, three of which are offered in either stainless steel or pink gold with a fourth in platinum.
The new Tonda PF might be best thought of as the more elegant sibling of the Tonda GT. It shares the same streamlined look, knurled bezel, and integrated bracelet but is differentiated by a more understated appearance.
The key elements of the Tonda PF are the refined finishes of the dial (more on that later) and the new logo, which no longer features the full Parmigiani name but replaces it with a plaque with the letters “PF.”
While I applaud the clean look, I am not necessarily enamored of the logo. While I know that the brand has been using it for some time, and it never really bothered me much, seeing it on these watches makes me think twice. Is it a deal breaker, though? Definitely not as I consider the new Tonda PF models some of Parmigiani’s best work in recent years.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor: the elegance of minimalism
With a diameter of 40 mm, the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor is perfectly proportioned. On the wrist, it appears almost as one might expect from a jewelry brand as it looks like a high-end bracelet that just happens feature a watch.
Thanks to the three-millimeter-high automatic movement, the overall profile of the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor is kept to an elegantly slim 7.8 mm, while water resistance of 100 meters is further testimony that Parmigiani intends this watch to be enjoyed on a daily basis.
The hand-knurled bezel plays a more prominent role here because there are no distractions on the dial other than the date at 6 o’clock. This gives the watch a very clean look, although it is not pure minimalism. The dial itself has a beautiful grey color and features an extremely subtle hand-applied grain d’orge guilloche.
This same decoration technique is used for the platinum micro rotor that winds the movement.
The choice between stainless steel and pink gold is a hard one. While the precious metal does give the watch a warmer look, it doesn’t add anything it might otherwise be lacking. The stainless steel version has a strong enough character to compete with benchmark watches like the Vacheron Constantin Overseas and is (unsurprisingly) similarly priced.
An interesting detail on all the stainless steel Tonda PF models is that the bezel is made of platinum. Parmigiani did this because platinum can be hand-polished to a higher degree than other precious metals, so it reflects more light.
While the pink gold version is very gold, it is cleverly toned down by the dark dial and the bracelet’s combination of brushed and polished surfaces. It looks expensive, but not like you have to drive a white Ferrari through Miami wearing loafers without socks and a pastel t-shirt under your linen jacket with it.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor
Case: 40 x 7.8 mm, stainless steel with a platinum bezel or pink gold; 100 m water resistance
Dial and hands: grey dial with hand-applied grain d’orge guilloché; pink gold or rhodium-plated applied indices; delta-shaped hands
Movement: automatic Caliber PF703 with platinum micro rotor; 21,600 vph/3Hz frequency; power reserve 48 hours
Functions: hours, minutes; date
Price: $22,900 (stainless steel with platinum bezel); $53,900 (pink gold)
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronograph: a more complex case
Parmigiani opted for a two-millimeter wider case for the Tonda PF Chronograph as compared to the Micro-Rotor. A clever move as chronograph owners usually don’t mind – and often prefer – a larger watch.
At the same time, this size provides just enough space to beautifully outline the three subdials without cutting into the unique character of the Tonda PF. In that light, I also like the way Parmigiani incorporated the date in this watch at 4:30.
The design is really well thought through, which is clear from how the chronograph pushers are shaped and positioned. They are easy to use but also add a sense of dynamic to the watch. I don’t miss this on the Micro-Rotor model, but here I both notice and welcome the attention to detail.
The blue dial is beyond stunning, in particular with the outline of the chronograph subdials in a deeper shade of blue but without guilloché texture. No matter what metal you prefer, it gives it an instantly richer look. Another bonus is that despite all this beauty, legibility is superb, so form and function are in total harmony.
This is also one of the few watches that I would buy for its movement: Caliber PF070 is a modern-day manufacture chronograph movement with all the bells and whistles. It runs at 5 Hz (proudly engraved on the back of the watch, though not visible in the photo above), is fully integrated with a column wheel and vertical clutch, and features a generous power reserve of 65 hours. The cherry on top is that it is also officially C.O.S.C. chronometer certified.
The caliber features a refined finish that still includes a fitting industrial touch. It has a full-size oscillating weight made of pink gold, underscoring the precious nature of this watch.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Chronograph
Case: 42 x 12.4 mm, stainless steel with a platinum bezel or pink gold; 100 m water resistance
Dial and hands: blue dial with grain d’orge guilloché; pink gold or rhodium-plated applied indices; delta-shaped hands
Movement: automatic Caliber PF070; 36,000 vph/5Hz frequency; power reserve 65 hours, pink gold full-size rotor, officially C.O.S.C. chronometer certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: $31,000 (stainless steel with platinum bezel); $69,700 (pink gold)
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Annual Calendar: more complex doesn’t necessarily mean more appealing
The movement of the Tonda PF Annual Calendar is also complex with Caliber PF339 powering the watch. We already know this movement from the Tonda Calendrier Annuel, and I prefer that model over this new Tonda PF.
There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, there is simply too much going on on the dial for me. While this fits the character of the Tonda Calendrier Annuel, I think it takes away too much from the clean lines of the Tonda PF.
Also, the double moon phase introduces two additional colors to the dial, both concentrated in a limited space. I know that I should like them (or overlook them) as the movement powering the moon phase is so superb that it only needs adjusting once every 122 years. But it still doesn’t fit in this watch for me.
This display being too much for me is a true testimony to how powerful the original design of the Tonda PF is. I know that many people enjoy this type of moon phase, so from a commercial point of view I might be wrong, but I do wonder how this watch would look without the moon phase display.
Another thing I am not fond of is that the retrograde hand indicating the date is simply not long enough. It looks like it is waving from a distance to the proper numeral.
That might be a mere detail, but as Parmigiani gets them all right on the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor and Chronograph, it stands out.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Annual Calendar
Case: 42 x 11.1 mm, stainless steel with platinum bezel or pink gold; 100 m water resistance
Dial and hands: grey dial with grain d’orge guilloché; pink gold or rhodium-plated applied indices; delta-shaped hands
Movement: automatic Caliber PF339; 28,800 vph/4Hz frequency; power reserve 50 hours, pink gold full-size rotor
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; annual calendar with retrograde date, day, and month; high-precision moon phase for both hemispheres that only needs adjusting every 122 years
Price: $38,700 (stainless steel with platinum bezel); $77,500 (pink gold)
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Split-Seconds Chronograph: the pulse of platinum
The last member of this new collection, the Tonda PF Split-Seconds Chronograph, is perhaps also the most surprising. Here Parmigiani opted to make not only the bezel but also the case and bracelet in platinum, resulting in a highly precious and reassuringly heavy watch.
As the brand also made the dial in solid platinum with a sandblasted finish, the watch itself has a very understated look, with only a dash of color added by the pad-printed black numerals and indicators and three pink gold hands.
It makes this Tonda PF an almost private pleasure as few will instantly recognize its valuable nature other than perhaps to recognize it as a Parmigiani. One thing that I find a bit strange is that Parmigiani opted to print a pulsometer rather than a tachymeter scale around the perimeter of the dial.
Measuring somebody’s pulse is impossible to do with two people at the same time. So the main feature of this watch – to measure the elapsed seconds of two events at the same time – is rendered useless with regard to the chosen scale.
That is a pity as the complication is backed by a movement that is a true delight: Caliber PF361 is a new version of the movement we have already seen in the Tonda Chronor, which was introduced to mark the twentieth anniversary of Parmigiani in 2016.
The Tonda Chronor was the first integrated chronograph of Parmigiani’s own making and it features pink gold bridges and a stunning finish. In all honesty, I like the new version better as it lacks the large date. While a desirable complication in itself, and a handy one as well, I always found it too dominant, and I am happy that Parmigiani now forgoes it in favor of a cleaner look.
In the end, watches like this are more often worn for their visual beauty than their practicality.
Quick Facts Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph
Case: 42 x 15 mm, platinum; 100 m water resistance
Dial and hands: sandblasted platinum dial; rhodium-plated applied indices; delta-shaped hands
Movement: manual wind Caliber PF361; 36,000 vph/5Hz frequency; power reserve 65 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; split-second chronograph
For more information, please visit www.parmigiani.com/en/watches/tonda.