First Impressions: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor

Parmigiani Fleurier is a high end manufacture with pedigree that just hasn’t been able to crack into the mainstream zeitgeist of ‘hot watches’ over the years. And maybe that’s for the better. The brand has remained in their own, rather conservative lane when it comes to styling, evolving slowly into new areas, and in their own way. When they ventured into the steel sport watch space recently, they did so in their own way as well. The Tonda collection has existed for many years, but with the introduction of the Tonda PF collection last year, it got people talking. And with demand surging for exactly this type of watch, buyers and enthusiasts are finally coming around to brands like Parmigiani Fleurier as, perhaps, the next big thing. Whatever that means. 

I’ve long championed Parmigiani, though admittedly, have never felt entirely in sync with their design language. The Tonda PF collection is a curious one, taking the Tonda in a monotone direction compared to the GT collection that first broke ground in the “high end sport watch” genre for the brand. The PF watches are subtle and uniform in appearance, with a softness that begs a closer look. Lines are smooth and unbroken, textures are tighter, and contrast is kept to a  minimum. Sadly, these are qualities that don’t translate all that well in photography. In hand and on wrist is a different matter, however.

Advertisement

The Tonda PF Micro-Rotor is the entry point to the collection, offered in steel, with just time and date complications present. It is not cheap, at $22,900, but it’s a watch that offers a clear contrast to the establishment selections in this genre. Further, while it hits many of the same notes, no one will be mistaking this for a Royal Oak or Nautilus. A good thing, in my book. 

The Tonda PF features an integrated bracelet that flares at the lug to create a seamless curvature, broken only by the teardrop lug architecture that’s something of a hallmark for Parmigiani. The resulting shape of the whole package is almost egg-like, or perhaps something that came from the Oakley sunglasses design team, and this effect is exaggerated in images. In hand, though, it doesn’t read that way. The bracelet is trim and comfortable, and the case is far smaller than the expansive dial would suggest. In use, this is a watch that starts to make a lot of sense. 

The case itself measures 40mm in diameter, and a mere 7.8mm in thickness, making for a rather compelling presence on the wrist. Details like the lug to case integration, coin edge bezel, and especially that dial, really call for a closer inspection and break the at-a-glance uniformity of the design. Still, the dial is the clear focal point here, and for good reason. The finishing is “Guilloché Grain d’orge” and it’s rendered in a warm grey, nearing toupe. The pattern is tight, really pulling you in to discern its detail, while at the same time, it feels like it stretches on for miles thanks to the almost vestigial hour markers pushed to the very edge of the dial, the singular “PF” marking at 12 o’clock, and nothing else. Just Guilloché Grain d’orge as far as the eye can see. Oh, except for the date aperture at 6 o’clock. There always has to be a date window.

Again, we’re talking about a 40mm case here, so the dial isn’t that big, but it feels massive duo to the execution. A pair of delta-shaped hands read off the hours and minutes, with no seconds hand in sight. In total, it’s a striking dial that’s nearly impossible to ignore. It’s formal and refined, but toned down enough to feel at home with a pair of jeans. 

The view around back is just as lovely, offering an equally expansive look at Parmigiani’s PF703 automatic micro-rotor within. The micro-rotor itself is platinum, and features the same pattern seen on the dial. Overall the finishing is quite lovely and on par with what you’d expect in this price range for a time and date watch. 

The PF Micro-Rotor feels like a daring watch coming from a company that doesn’t often stray from its chosen path. It’s a step away, and it should come as no surprise that the man at the helm of Parmigiani these days is none other than Guido Terreni, formerly of Bulgari, overseeing watches like the Octo Finissimo. The PF Micro-Rotor, within that context, feels like the beginning of something that will indeed see Parmigiani taking further steps outside of their comfort zone. Hopefully they can manage to do so without losing too much of the old-school Parmigiani charm in the process. Parmigiani Fleurier.

Related Posts
Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
Categories: