THE TONDA 1950
For Parmigiani Fleurier by Frank Geelen
More then ten years ago, I walked by the window of a jeweler and for the first time I saw Parmigiani timepieces. I had a more than average interest in beautiful timepieces, and to be honest, I watched at all window displays of jewelers in all cities that I visited. What struck me in the first place, were the ‘different’ cases. While 99% of the industry produced round watches, Parmigiani watches where different and not only because of the elegant tonneau shaped cases. Also the use of colors on the dial and the lugs, yes, the lugs. But later more about those.
Later I learned more about Parmigiani Fleurier as a brand and got familiar with their entire watch collection. The collection is quite diverse, from robust sports watches to elegant ladies watches with an integrated bracelet, right up to extremely complicated timepieces. All of it made with the utmost care and attention for detail and mechanical movements of incredible beauty.
Since a few years Parmigiani has expanded the collection with a thoroughbred dress watch, the Tonda 1950. It features a round case - classic for a dress watch you might say – with a pleasant diameter of 39 mm.
In preparation for this review, and to get a better understanding of this stunning timepiece, Parmigiani lent me a rose gold Tonda 1950 with an off-white dial. It was a pleasure to wear and surprised me in more ways than I could have expected.
At first sight, the Tonda 1950 is a classic dress watch, with classic looks and dimensions, a clean dial, no date that disturbs the balance and a beautiful leather strap. That was my idea about the Tonda 1950 before the review period started. After wearing it for several weeks, I found out that the Tonda 1950 is actually so much more then "just” a beautiful dress watch. Let’s have a closer look.
Something I mentioned before were the lugs, which are also sometimes referred to as ‘horns’. When you have a look at the various timepieces from Parmigiani, you’ll find that a round case is not the standard at Parmigiani. Cases can have various shapes, from the Kalpa collection with its stylish tonneau shaped cases, to the sporty and robust Pershing collection, to the Bugatti collection that features an almost indescribable but very beautiful case shape. While round is not a standard, there’s another standard. Something that comes back in every single Parmigiani timepiece and I must say that I’m very much impressed by how stylish and elegant that has been done. I’m talking about the lugs.
The lugs are part of the brand’s DNA and define every timepiece. These lugs give the classic round Tonda 1950, that special touch.
Usually I find a pure dress watch, like a Patek Calatrava or a Vacheron Patrimony, too classic for wearing with a casual outfit. The Tonda 1950 on the other hand, looks absolutely great with pretty much any ensemble and I found that a very pleasant quality.
The other distinct feature that ads "something” special, is the strap. It is not just a beautiful alligator strap, it is a strap made by Hermès. The strap is hand sewn and slightly padded in the middle, and comes with a gold ardillon buckle.
The strap is quite wide at the case. It measures 22 mm between the lugs, which is wide compared to standard dress watches with a lug width of 18mm. Hermès used beautiful alligator leather that is matte finished. Again, compared to the glossy straps that most dress watches come on, this wide alligator strap with a matte finish looks more natural, and a bit bolder as well. These are the little things that make the Tonda 1950 special, but believe me, there’s more.
Dial and hands
The dial is off white in color and has a very fine grain texture. The off white give a warm and rich color that so perfectly matches with the pink gold case and dark brown alligator strap. The dial features applied rose-gold plated hour markers and an applied Parmigiani Fleurier logo. At the lower half of the dial is an off center second sub dial, which is slightly recessed.
The hands are also slightly out of the ordinary for a standard dress watch, but are true to the Parmigiani design codes and identical on each of the brand’s timepieces. The delta-shaped hands feature a luminescent coating, which make it easy to read the time during the darker hours of the day and even at night.
The finely grained texture, the off white color and the delta-shaped hands with luminescent coating, are all subtle features that give the Tonda 1950 which playfully highlight the very unique charm of the Tonda 1950.
When it wasn’t clear by now, turning the watch to see its magnificent movement, will impress both connoisseurs as well as laymen. The intricate beauty of caliber PF701 is obvious.
The in-house designed, developed and manufactured movement delivers 42 hours of autonomy, when fully wound. The main plate features a circular graining finish (also called perlage), the bridges are adorned with Côte de Genève and their edges are chamfered and polished by hand. These are all marks of a full-fledged high-end timepiece. Add to that the screw balance with poising weights and you will know that this is a high-end masterpiece.
During the period I’ve worn the Tonda 1950, I’ve come to love it. In the beginning I expected to be wearing a beautiful and elegant dress watch, but over time I learned that the Tonda 1950 is so much more than that. With its characteristic lugs, the extraordinary Hermès leather strap and the lovely finishing on the dial and hands, all add something extra to the classic dress watch. Let’s call it classic with a twist. A brilliant twist I might add, as every little details adds to making the Tonda 1950 so much more than a standard dress watch. I’ve come to learn the Tonda 1950 as a very comfortable, legible, stylish and elegant timepiece for both men and women, which can be worn with pretty much any outfit.