Hands-On with the Parmigiani Tonda PF 36

Parmigiani Fleurier continues to iterate on their distinctive Tonda platform, dialing it in a bit further with each step, and the latest example of the Tonda PF 36mm is a near perfect distillation of the concept. We first saw the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor last year, and found a lot to love in the small details. We also found the dial to be expansive on the wrist, almost in its own way when it came to wearability thanks to the wide integrated bracelet. The Tonda PF in 36mm guise addresses nearly every issue we had with the Micro-Rotor, but welcomes a different movement in the process. The Tonda has come a long way, and this is the watch that has us most excited about its future. 

The modern Tonda PF is often mentioned in the same breath as contemporaries like the Vacheron 222, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo, the Chopard Alpine Eagle, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato… you get the idea, but I’d submit that this watch sits in a slightly different realm to those (also excellent) watches. The Tonda PF has a grace that’s lacking in most high-end integrated steel sport watches. In fact, I wouldn’t call the Tonda a PF a sports watch at all. This is leisure wear at its finest, and will look better than most dressed up to the nines. There is no pretense of adventure lifestyle behind the scenes with this one.


The Tonda PF in 36mm confronts this fact head on, and kind of dares you to place it into any specific genre. This specific example features a “steel sand” colored dial that doesn’t deviate in value from the actual steel case and bracelet. There’s a uniformity to the watch that dips into industrial vibes, which makes for two qualities that stand out to me. First is the contrast of this uniform gray steel and gray appearance with the high level of execution and finishing as well as the overall svelte dimensions of the watch. Second is its ability to conform to nearly any area of your wardrobe, any style you dare venture into. This isn’t a watch that will be the centerpiece of any outfit, but it will almost perfectly accent any other color and texture you find yourself wearing. 

At 36mm, this Tonda PF also finds a much greater sense of balance between dial and case. As noted in our initial hands-on of the 40mm Micro-Rotor, the tight grain d’orge guilloché pattern on the dial coupled with the relatively sterile nature of the design made for a vast looking dial space that almost overpowered the rest of the design. At 36mm, there’s a greater harmony between all elements at work, no matter how subtle they may be. It has the added side benefit of ditching the awkward date-window placed at 6 o’clock on the Micro-Rotor. The dial as a whole feels cohesive and falls into that just-right territory in use. 

Of course, the biggest benefit of the new case size is the ergonomics of the watch on-wrist. This largely comes down to the integration of the bracelet to the case. The design of the bracelet really begins at the top of the lug, which stretches nearly to the width of the case, meaning the case feels like it takes up much more area on the wrist compared to a more traditionally shaped 36mm watch. The bracelet begins just as wide, and begins to slowly taper to the first true link, so the move to a small case solves the enormous feeling of the 40mm Micro-Rotor, even though neither are large watches. It’s the same issue with the Octo Finissimo and the 222, very wide bracelets that alter the perception we have of a normal diameter measurement.

So this is a 36mm watch that feels a bit bigger than that, and at a mere 8.6mm in thickness, the overall wearing experience is downright sublime. This is also thanks to the silky quality of the bracelet itself, as the links have a high degree of rotation and never seem to interfere with one another, even at extreme angles. 

Due to its size, the 36mm Tonda PF is not using the same Micro-Rotor PF703 movement, opting instead for the time only automatic PF770, which seems to be an updated PF 441 caliber. It’s still visible through the caseback and offers a mighty fine view even with the full size rotor which has been opened up to give the high possible visibility to the bridges below. 

The Tonda PF 36mm is priced at CHF18,000 in this still configuration, though it can also be had with diamond baguette hour markers for CHF24,900, and in rose gold with baguette markers for CHF49,500. Not cheap watches, but at the entry level offers a compelling case against contemporaries from the likes of VC, Patek, and AP. Just don’t expect a tool watch in high-end clothes. This is a leisure/formal/informal watch through and through, and it’s all the better for embracing that role. Parmigiani.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life 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 Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.