How the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Skeleton changed my perception of openworkingBorna Bošnjak
The human brain is a curious thing. Having written many a review and introducing post, I feel like I’ve become increasingly more selective about the type of watch I really like. While my interests evolved, one constant has been my aloofness towards skeletonisation. Then the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Skeleton happened, and completely blew me away.
It was introduced at Watches and Wonders alongside a slew of other impressive models, all following Parmigiani Fleurier’s fresh design language dictated by newly appointed CEO Guido Terreni. Within a sea of incredible new releases, the Tonda PF Skeleton had to share the limelight with other, equally as impressive pieces, so it’s good that we finally had the chance to make it the sole focus of this review.
It’s immediately evident that Parmigiani Fleurier put considerable thought into this movement, and the fact that it’s destined for openworking. Its flowing nature, with deep, flowing grooves connecting the bridges, also helps it give additional depth. From the uppermost bridges, you’re taken past the keyless works and openworked dual barrels, down to the small balance wheel and pallet fork, and finally, the 22k rose-gold rotor.
The brushed graphite tops of the bridges and the chapter ring contrast against the black polished anglage and screws, giving a monochromatic backdrop to the rose-gold indices and skeletonised delta hands. To prevent any unwanted saturation, Parmigiani Fleurier used colourless rubies in place of the more common, well, ruby-coloured ones, which may just be my favourite horological quirk of this year.
The fluidity of the movement construction is echoed in the 40mm case, with an option of solid rose gold or a steel and platinum combination. The bezels have a dual finish, both knurled and highly polished, which adds interest and reduces visual bulk, helping the bezel-to-dial ratio work perfectly. Jutting out at 3 o’clock, you’ll notice the tiniest of crowns. As it’s equipped with a screw-down operation, it offers 100 metres of water resistance, which is a huge, unnecessary and oh-so-brilliant watchmaking flex.
At only 44.4mm lug-to-lug and 8.6mm in thickness, it avoids the danger of wearing excessively flat on the wrist, which can plague very thin watches with larger diameters. It’s actually the lugs themselves, that make this possible. They’re sculpted onto the watch, as their feature line merely skirts the edge of the case, flowing directly into the integrated bracelet. Like the rest of the Tonda PF line, I adore the dual finish of the outer bracelet links, as they go from a high polish to a fine hairline brush in a fine, razor-thin transition.
Mentioning the bracelet last does it a huge disservice, as it truly is a cornerstone for the Tonda PF. It moulds to the wrist exceptionally well, partly owing to the brilliant lugs, and otherwise due to the flat, perfectly finished links. Never have I before experienced a metal bracelet that feels, for the lack of a better word, soft.
The star of the show is on display from both sides, and deservingly so. The PF777 in-house calibre is only 3.9mm in height, inclusive of the full-size rotor, which is just damn impressive. The view from the display caseback gives us another look at the intricate lattice-like structure of the bridges, complete with chamfering and those amazing colourless jewels. Considering the thinness, it boasts an impressive 60-hour power reserve, so it’s not just a pretty face either.
The Tonda PF Skeleton is one of those pieces that has so much going for it, that it’s almost overwhelming. And yes, price certainly attributes to that overwhelming nature, but it’s good to be reminded of what certain other steel sports watches currently trade for.
Secondary market pricing and all else aside, this may just be one of the best examples of combining wearability, haute horlogerie and build quality that I’ve ever seen. It’s a watch worthy of grail status in every sense of the word, as unattainable as it may be for most.