Hands-On: The Handsome Threesome, Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 (Part 2/3)

We continue our Handsome Threesome hands-on with another one of those small second hands watches, this time we look at the Parmigiani Fleurier ref. PFC288-0000100-XA1442.

It’s hard to imagine this Tonda 1950 fits the same logic of a peaceful watch, yet being so different from a Calatrava.  Parmigiani Fleurier was founded in Fleurier (CH) in 1996 by Michel Parmigiani who was already in business as a famous watch restorator since 1976.  Back in those days it was by far not obvious to embrace a career in watchmaking right in the middle of the quartz crisis.  

Backed up with financial support from the Swiss Sandoz family, Parmigiani Fleurier still remains a largely unknown and heavily underestimated brand despite their collaboration with Bugatti since 2004. In 2000 they purchased Les Artisans Boîtiers, a hub of expert craftmanship, using cutting edge technology to manufacture the most complex watch cases.  

In 2001 acquired Atokalpa, manufacture of trains, pinions and micro gears, balances and balance springs, pallet forks and escapement wheels.  Next was the company Elwin, a precision bar turning specialist, providing all thinkable hardware for mechanical watch movements such as screws, pinions, balance staffs, wheels,…In 2003 Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier was created as Parmigiani’s non exclusive inhouse watchmaking power house. Finally to complete their watch making centre,  in 2005 they created Quadrance et Habillage, a company specialized in producing high end dials. In 2006 Hermes takes part in Parmigiani Fleurier and since then is the exclusive supplier of the leather straps every Parmigiani watch comes with.

 Originally introduced in 2011 in precious metal only, the Tonda 1950 was announced in 2017 in steel too.  Tonda derives from the Venetian word Tondo, the round canvas on which Renaissance artists created works of art and refers to the round case shape while 1950 is referring to Mr. Parmigiani’s birth year, may well be the most popular model of the current range.  

Except for the sapphire, the gaskets and the strap, this is a 100% inhouse and handfinished piece of minimalistic design.  Peaceful…  It bears the PF702 automatic movement coming from the Vaucher Manufacture with beautiful finished parts as can be admired through the sapphire case back.  To maintain a very slender automatic movement of only 2,6mm (!) thickness, a micro rotor does the winding job to nurture the 48 hour power reserve.  

The stainless steel watch is 30meter waterproof and is in total a mere 8,2mm thick with 40mm in diameter.   Special point of attraction is of course the rhodium plated opaline dial with the famous Parmigiani delta shaped hands with luminous coating covered by an anti-reflective sapphire glass.  Special word also to the uniquely shaped lugs that not only add superb fit but also look flabbercasting.  

If you think you have seen this shape somewhere else in your previous life, just google the front fender of  a 1927 Bugatti Royale….The strap is a super luxurious Hermes alligator strap equipped with a very ingenuous buckle with micro adjustments.  Something really unique that I have never seen elsewhere but adds a lot of comfort to wearing it.  

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