An NYC weekend with the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-RotorZach Blass
When people ask me what brand they should keep an eye on, without hesitation I say Parmigiani Fleurier. The manufacture, while less of a household name, has always created quality timepieces. But with the brand now helmed by CEO Guido Terreni, formerly head of watches at Bulgari, the Parmigiani catalogue is becoming stronger than ever – their collections being refined further and further into extremely intriguing designs. Arguably one of the watches that garnered the most attention this past Watches & Wonders was the Tonda PF Rattrapante GMT, and its debut has drawn more attention to the Tonda PF collection as a whole. So, when I was asked if I wanted to spend some time with the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor, the most distilled configuration in the collection, I gladly took the opportunity.
In Parmigiani’s own advertisement campaigns for the collection, you will find videos in which gorgeous models of all genders drive and pilot a variety of really cool vehicles in stunning landscapes – all of course while wearing the watch. It is a striking campaign to be sure, touching on the aesthetic and aspirational notes that luxury is known to target. But rather than try to force myself into this aspirational world, I decided to bring the watch into mine – taking it along for a typical NYC weekend adventure of mine: a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a walk through Central Park. So, before I dig into my experience wearing it in the wild, let’s quickly run through the watch itself.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor, at least in steel, is the entry point into the Tonda PF collection. It offers the essentials in a casually elegant and thin design, simply the hours, minutes, and the date. Its dark grey dial with a fine “grain d’orge” guilloche is a perfect pairing for the hue of the rose-gold case and bracelet, allowing the metal to pop more and leaving the dial with curious subtlety. Clocking in at 40mm in diameter and 7.8mm in thickness, the 100 metre water-resistant watch (with a screw-down crown) is ideally sized for all wrists. Its wide lugs and bracelet, as well as its seemingly larger dial, give the watch a lot of presence on the wrist. But, it wears quite compactly across the wrist lug-to-lug – ensuring it has grace on all wrist sizes. Top-class finishes are executed throughout the watch, with alternating coined, brushed, and polished variations working in perfect harmony.
The wider width of the bracelet allows the watch to sit very comfortably on the wrist, and, with this particular model in rose gold, its width, while the watch is quite thin, means the heft of the precious metal feels like a cosy gravity blanket hugging the wrist. One particular element that I really dig about its design is the distinct way Parmigiani uses traditional finishes to create a fresh aesthetic. Most watches utilise a bracelet that sits solely between the lugs. For example, you would typically find polished lugs, with the finish continued through hairline bevels to the shoulders of the links. Here, however, Parmigiani continues the polishing of the lugs with half-polished, half-brushed links (which also have a hairline polished bevel) that start at the width of the lugs and gradually taper down. As this taper occurs, the adjacent brushing gradually disappears. It is very striking, and makes wrist-rolls that much more intriguing.
Inside, visible beneath an exhibition caseback, is the in-house calibre PF703. Its 3mm thickness allows the case to be so thin, and its ultra-slim profile is largely thanks to the usage of a micro-rotor winding system. The micro-rotor is highly efficient due to its platinum mass, and the small piece of the noble metal is elegantly decorated with guilloche and chamfers. The bridges are also well-decorated, with traditional striping and thin chamfering to their curvaceous edges. In terms of performance it is not necessarily breaking any records, affording the wearer a standard 48 hours of power reserve. At the end of the day it is a pretty gorgeous movement that delivers what watch buyers have come to expect in terms of performance.
Wearing it in the wild
My objective for my weekend date with the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor was to keep it real, but, knowing Ricardo was going to be photographing me I won’t pretend I was not thinking about what I would wear. Normally, you can expect to find me in a jacket, shirt, and pants – pretty typical Zach Blass wardrobe – but frankly it was too damn hot. So, after Ricardo reminded me of our objective, I stopped over-thinking it and went sans jacket in an all-black getup – another Lagerfeldian staple of mine. It was a hot, Saturday afternoon as Ricardo and I arrived at the steps of The Met and saw an expectedly massive line to get in. But fortunately, I turned and smirked at Ricardo’s membership card in hand.
Bypassing the line, I proceeded to walk Ricardo through the various sections of the museum – as it had been some time since Ricardo had last visited. As we walked around, I was curious how many glances I would get – the full rose gold watch really popping against my sombre wardrobe. Rose gold is the exact opposite of white gold in terms of discretion, white precious metals such as white gold and platinum known for being “stealth wealth”. With the watch not being mine, I didn’t want to attract too much heat and I was pleasantly surprised that the only stares I got were when people were wondering why Ricardo was photographing me.
When I travel to less familiar territory, I often wear watches like my Grand Seiko SBGA413 because I feel they are less conspicuous. I mention this because I felt the same sense of under-the-radar comfort with the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor. It doesn’t have an iconic silhouette that people outside the watch community would recognise, although up close, anyone would be able to discern that it is a watch of high quality. So, for those who would rather subtly flex quality horology, in favour of brand recognition for clout, Parmigiani references are definitely something you need to explore.
After we finished inside The Met, I took a nostalgic seat on the steps outside to shoot a few emails and texts. Growing up, in the last year of elementary school I was allowed to leave school to get lunch. We had a radius we had to stay within, but The Met was within it. So, my friends and I would pickup lunch and eat on these very steps – a daily ritual I miss when I think about it.
I am a stickler for fit, so I was shocked that when the watch arrived in my possession it was not only sized, but sized perfectly to my wrist. I did not supply my wrist measurements to anyone, and my wrist is on the smaller size, so it was shocking coincidence to say the least. I had first strapped it on in the comfort of an air-conditioned room, so I was curious to see how it would feel on the wrist in the heat outdoors. Throughout the day it remained very comfortable in fit, regardless of whether my wrist was swelling or contracting in relation to the temperature.
The watch rests very flat in its centre, but the cambered lug and bracelet profile then graciously wraps around the wrist. Sometimes the flare of a folding clasp creates fixed length, but the width of the butterfly clasp closed here is just right. So, as someone who does not like their watch to slide around and up and down on the wrist, I was really happy that it didn’t feel too tight top to bottom or side to side – it was just right.
To get some fresh air, we journeyed into Central Park next door, swinging by a common stomping ground of mine over the years: The Great Lawn. We walked to the south side of the loop, passing each of the baseball fields and the turtle pond to make our way towards Belvedere Castle – where I told Ricardo he would be able to see inside the Delacorte Theatre where Shakespeare in the Park is held. I cannot stress enough how awesome Shakespeare in the Park is. While the tickets are very competitive to get hold of, they are 100% free – and many famous actors participate in these wonderful productions.
Overall, I would say my first date with the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor in rose gold was a wonderful experience. I definitely did not want to give the watch back, I was enjoying it too much to willingly part with it. The Parmigiani team at Watches & Wonders really stressed the idea of casual elegance when we visited their booth, and having worn it for a week I really feel those two words perfectly describe how the watch not only looks, but also feels on the wrist. Sometimes I put full precious-metal watches on, and I get an overwhelming sense the watch is out of my league. And to be clear, I definitely cannot afford to buy this watch myself. But it felt natural on the wrist, something I could comfortably wear daily – and I look forward to the day where perhaps that is possible.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor pricing and availability:
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor in rose gold is available now for purchase: Price: $53,900 USD
|Tonda PF Micro-Rotor
|40mm x 7.8mm
|100m (screw-down crown)
|Rose Gold bracelet with butterfly clasp
|In-house calibre PF703
|Hours, minutes, date