[VIDEO] Hands-On Impressions Of New Watches From Parmigiani Fleurier

Last week, Parmigiani Fleurier impressed us with their novel take on the GMT with the Tonda GMT Rattrapante, offering a second, independently adjustable hour hand on demand. But that wasn’t the only thing we saw during Watches & Wonders, a pair of openworked Tonda PF references joined the fun and may have been the most surprising watches of the entire show. The Tonda PF is a slim platform that is showing its range with these new models, something we saw the potential for after getting a hands-on look at the base model right here.

The GMT Rattrapante as a concept (which we wrote about here) is an idea so simple and effective that it’s difficult to believe that this is the first time it’s been done. The manner in which it has been implemented retains the full charm and simplicity of the time and date, only better because it nixes the date aperture at 6 o’clock, so you get more of that texture pattern. That does mean no numerals, no am/pm indication, or really anything other than the hour markers with which to make use of, so while legibility isn’t on the level of a typical GMT tool watch, there’s enough there to make some practical use of.

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On the wrist, the GMT is as compelling as the Tonda PF, despite moving from 7.9mm in thickness, to 10.7mm. Obviously, that still qualifies the watch as quite thin, but the key factor is the angle of the lug, and the integrated bracelet, which gets links that easily take any shape thanks to their pivot points. 

I had the opportunity to discuss case and bracelet ergonomics with the brand’s CEO, Guido Terreni (formerly Bulgari) over dinner, and was surprised at the level of detail in which he actively thinks about such things. He even took the pen out of his coat to illustrate his thinking around the relationship between the case, lug curvature, and bracelet on the table cloth in front of us. It’s clear that a lot of care was put into the case and bracelet of these and the dividends are clear as soon as you strap the watch onto your wrist. I’ve rarely witnessed employees at this level so eager to get down into the weeds with some real watch nerd talk, and I took it as a great sign that Parmigini as a whole is in properly good hands. 

This level of thinking is also clearly present in the excellent pair of Tonda PF Skeleton watches, which feature openworked dials within steel/platinum or red gold cases. Graphite satin finished bridges provide enough contrast to be practical, while allowing enough detail and visibility to be visually arresting. The negative space between the bridge work creates organic, flowing lines that move the eye inward. It’s a beautiful sight, and distinctly different from something like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Openworked, which feels almost haphazard in comparison.

The Skeleton watches measure 40mm in diameter and 8.5mm thick, and are absolutely sublime on the wrist (see above). Taken together, these were potentially the most compelling watches we saw all week, and friends, we saw some bangers in Geneva. I can easily envision these watches being an official turning point for Parmigiani toward mainstream demand. Neither are what you’d call accessible, at CHF59,000 for the steel/platinum and CHF88,000 for the red gold, but what they represent is the main story here – not only in terms of laying the groundwork for the Tonda collection, but what they signify for the future of the Kalpa and Toric collections as well. Parmigiani Fleurier.

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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.
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