Under the guidance of Guido Terreni, Parmigiani Fleurier has made rapid progress from a niche, somewhat patriotic brand to one of the most exciting and dynamic names out there with its Tonda PF collection. Terreni showcased his talents at Bulgari with Octo Finissimo, a collection that would cement the brand’s reputation as a major disruptor in the industry. Under Parmigiani’s leadership since early 2021, Terreni has quickly taken advantage of the brand’s strong vertical manufacturing capabilities and succeeded as a result.

The appeal of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF is obvious. A strap-on sports watch with premium finishing, excellent manufacturing and an exceptionally impressive attention to detail: In a market that is hungry for exactly this type of product, Tonda PF has done nothing more than rebrand. The collection launches with a time-only micro-rotor model, a chronograph, an annual calendar, and a split-seconds chronograph. This year at Watch & Wonders Geneva 2022 we saw the launch of the second batch of Tonda PF watches. While the GMT Rattrapante deserves most of the attention for its novel application of a split-seconds mechanism to the GMT complication, I find myself equally enamored with the Tonda PF Skeleton pair of watches.

I recently spent just about a week with the red gold version of the Tonda PF Skeleton and was impressed — if not relieved to no longer have to worry about scratching a nearly six-figure watch . Indeed, I am as impressed by how successful the Tonda PF collection has become in just a few years under Mr. Terreni’s stewardship as by the impeccable design, execution and watchmaking on display here. .

Before diving into the skeleton here, I want to briefly mention some of the details that make the Tonda PF Skeleton such a cohesively designed watch. First of all, the bracelet is as refined and comfortable as any other bracelet and I appreciate how short the links are, which makes getting a good fit so much easier. While I’m not sure if the name “integrated bracelet” I see used here is technically correct, the moot point is that it looks, fits, and wears correctly. as one would expect of a luxury integrated bracelet watch. Another detail is the matching rose gold hand-knurled bezel, which can be made even stronger on the steel model with a platinum bezel.

The case rate is also commendable. The automatic movement can have the unfortunate side effect of adding heft to the case, but the Tonda PF Skeleton’s 40mm wide case is only 8.5mm thick. For me, this is the ideal case size for everyday wear. Oh, and it’s water resistant to 100 meters.

Watch design has been enjoying a steady resurgence over the past few years, with S-level versions or line updates from Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and Parmigiani, most of which are part of the sports watch collection. sport their integrated bracelet. Anecdotally, I have also observed a notable increase in appreciation for skeleton art among younger enthusiasts as well. However, a generation of collectors (including the current company) has been trained to largely dismiss skeletonization as a musty baroque technique that flouts admittedly arbitrary standards of “minimalism” or worse, a generic “luxury” add-on that seems conceived with the sole purpose of ruining readability. However, these days there seems to be a new hope.

“Wow, it can be read!” is a G-rated edit of a refrain I uttered both during my meeting with Parmigiani and later in the week with this watch. And the fact remains: It’s really, really easy to read! The sad truth is that a skeletonized dial with glossy gold hands will, in most cases, be an unreadable mechanical salad. Here, all the curved and sweeping bridges are finished in graphite creating a matte and monochromatic dial to contrast the triangular hands. The wheels and remaining components are finished in rhodium plating, matching the subdued color scheme. The hand-beveled edges of the bridges create a glossy finish that contrasts beautifully with the sandblasted and brushed finish across the entire dial.

There are small details that are thoughtfully and meticulously executed throughout this watch. Take the hour index, for example. Although at first glance they look quite normal, a closer look reveals that they were only glued to the dial on one side at the time of testing, at which point they were almost cantilevered over the brushed ring vertically, where the beveled edge lines up with the satin-brushed innermost ring before starting to create the skeleton of the dial. And on the back, note that the rotor has an oval sapphire crystal that houses the PF insignia. Just a slight touch can add to the lightness and airiness of a skeleton watch.

The solid gold rotor, like the hands and indexes on the dial, is the only non-monochrome aspect on the case back. The in-house automatic Caliber PF777 operates at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 60 hours. No, it’s not a micro-movement or manual wind that I know some people are hoping for, but in terms of practicality and execution, I have no qualms.

This is especially true when considering the measurements of the watch. The automatic movement may have the unfortunate side effect of adding heft to the case, but there’s not much to complain about with the 8.5mm thick case. Again, I find this makes for an ideal shell size for everyday wear. Well, perhaps the steel model would be better for everyday wear but the point still stands.

The movement’s sweeping, curved lines imply a decorative and relatively unusual interpretation of the skeleton without bothering to cut out as much as possible. In the old days, framing meant creating a unique canvas to demonstrate exceptional decorative and finishing skills. These things are stunning when done right, and there is a strong collector community who will pay exorbitant prices for pieces like the Patek Philippe Ellipse Ref. 3880 or certain Breguet references. For most modern buyers, this ornate style fell out of fashion a while ago, and skeleton options in recent years have generally been lackluster. However, it seems we have seen a new trend of skeletonization gaining momentum by refocusing engineering to cater to the tastes of younger buyers willing to value technical mastery. art in modern style.

However, modern time-only bezel watches have largely moved towards a “decorative minimalist” aesthetic, which is the inevitable result of exposing the bare bones of a similar movement. relatively simple. Many people fail at this because sometimes the results seem arbitrary and not particularly appealing, making one question the whole purpose of the exercise in the first place.

A good time-telling skeleton watch is the Cartier Santos, which has a blank outer dial framed with bridges made of Roman numerals. In this way, one can appreciate seeing through the “skeleton” and outside of the watch case while still retaining a watch’s purpose as a time-telling device with a convincing design. behind it. And then there are watches with complicated movements that don’t open things up with the intention of revealing the skeleton but rather to enhance appreciation of the inner workings. One brand once known for its more ornate skeleton designs is Vacheron Constantin, who keenly understood the changing tastes of contemporary collectors when they launched the Ultra-Thin Skeleton Perpetual Calendar in abroad in 2020.

There aren’t many examples, but some brands have achieved excellent results by prioritizing legibility and sharp finishes over purely traditional interpretations of skeletonization. Czapek Antarctique Rattrapante focuses on using skeletonization by combining it with a movement that showcases the split seconds mechanism on the front of the dial. I would also be remiss not to mention the Slim d’Hermès Squelette Lune, which like Parmigiani, uses darker and lighter matte finishes on the bridges and throughout. And then there’s the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 15305. Released in 2010, the 15305 is a watch that brings skeleton style to a new generation. By expanding the Caliber 3120 movement and using mostly anthracite or gray finishes, the 15305 features a skeletonized dial that matches the industrial style of the Royal Oak. Adapting this sometimes stuffy engineering to the style of the Royal Oak was a stroke of genius that left an indelible mark on the segment.

In many ways, the Tonda PF Skeleton has a similar attitude. Balanced proportions and beautiful curves are central to Parmigiani’s identity and are core elements of brand founder Michel Parmigiani’s design ethos. Anyone who knows me knows how much of an admirer I am of Parmigiani, both as a person and as a brand. However, it wasn’t until the Tonda PF collection that everything came together by fully showcasing Parmigiani’s DNA but in a package that was truly embraced by the market. The deep curves of the bridge follow the Golden Ratio, and the curves reflect the rounded edges of the case and the recognizable teardrop lugs.

I will spare you the tiresome conversation about how popular integrated bracelet sports watches (although “leisure watches” are more appropriate) are today, even though they are a obvious factors leading to the success of this collection. For collectors who want something a little different from the norm, spending some time with the Parmigiani Tonda PF Skeleton on the wrist is well worth the effort.

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