Monday Morning Revelations: The Parmigiani Tonda PF Sport Automatic Sports With A Steel Bezel And A Rubber Strap
When Parmigiani presented the Tonda PF during the 2021 edition of the Geneva Watch Days, I kept silent. It seemed that the brand not just presented me with an alternative to the usual Haute Horlogerie suspects—those with a luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet in their catalogs. Instead, Parmigiani presented me with a watch that outshone all current offerings in that prestigious watch segment in every way. From both an aesthetic end technical standpoint. Now, two years later, the Tonda PF Sport Automatic debuts. It now has three hands instead of two, but there are way more differences that are worth mentioning. Is this the Tonda we’ve all been waiting for?
It took me two glasses of excellent white wine—personally selected by the knowledgeable Parmigiani market manager at the time—to come up with an eloquent reaction regarding the watch that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the brand. In all its subtleness, the Tonda PF is a mind-blowing watch. In an interview I conducted with Michel Parmigiani years ago in Montreux, he explained the importance of proportions, the golden ratio, the Fibonacci sequence, and the use of precisely the right natural colors. Everything he told me materialized in the Tonda PF (ref. PFC914-1020001-1001820).
Parmigiani Tonda PF Sport Automatic: the “OG” versus the “young blood”
The Tonda PF is the “OG” watch that instantly put Parmigini in the spotlight. It had been operating a bit in the shadows before. Yes, the brand was respected by die-hard watch aficionados with an eye for the finer things in watchmaking, but it just didn’t have a watch in its line-up that matched the Zeitgeist. That changed with the birth of the Tonda PF. It was the composition of a 40 × 7.8mm steel case with a finely knurled platinum bezel surrounding a dial in a delicate shade of gray with a wonderful grain d’orge guilloché decoration that did it. Yes, that and the fact that it was clearly keen to play ball with the Royal Oaks and Nautili of this world.
Sure, the association with two of the biggest icons in high-end watchmaking helped, but the watch didn’t just have the looks. Through the see-through case back, the ultra-thin caliber PF703, a 3Hz movement of just 3mm thick with a platinum rotor and Haute Horlogerie finishing, backed up the en vogue exterior. And now there’s Tonda PF Sport Automatic (pfc930-1020001-400182), the “young blood” that does away with some of the “OG’s” traditional characteristics.
More is better?
Let’s look at some of the numbers of the Tonda PF Sport Automatic. The Tonda with the added moniker “Sport” now has an extra hand. It’s a central seconds hand. And it is powered by the PF700 automatic movement with a height of not 3, but 3.9mm. It also beats faster, 4Hz instead of 3Hz. The biggest difference might well be the absence of a micro-rotor. Instead, the movement uses an oscillating weight in 22ct rose gold, skeletonized and sand-blasted. The double barrel that the rotor feeds gives the movement a power reserve of 60 hours—that’s 12 hours more than the caliber PF703 in the original PF has to show. And although there’s no micro rotor—a sign of watchmaking excellence—the PF700 does show upper-class finishing like beveled edges and Côtes de Genève decorated surfaces.
The case shows off bigger numbers too. The Tonda PF Sport Automatic measures 41 × 9.8mm. But the water resistance has not gone up and remained at a (still) very convenient 100 meters. Do you know what else hasn’t gone up? The number of knurls of the bezel. The steel bezel comprises just 160 incisions, not 225 incisions like the OG’s platinum bezel. I have not counted the number of decorative details on the silver dial. But on the new Tonda PF Sport, fine, swirly guilloché grain d’orge—that’s a barleycorn pattern, by the way—by and also very delicate, yet a bit more sharp and dynamic hand-made clou triangulaire guilloché. And since we’ve landed on the topic of the dial, the applied gold hour markers are coated with a starkly contrasting black Super-Luminova.
Tonda PF vs. Tonda PF Sport Automatic
The final numbers you absolutely must know are the prices of both Tonda watches. The original Tonda PF has a price of CHF 22,000, while the Tonda PF Sport Automatic on a black rubber strap with a steel folding clasp can be yours for CHF 19,500. We won’t talk about waiting lists and availability issues here just yet; that’s for sure later this year. The latest Tonda is a bit “cheaper,” but it also forgoes a platinum bezel, steel bracelet, and a movement with a micro-rotor.
And it’s all these numbers and features that have me quite puzzled. The Sport is a slightly bigger and thicker version of a luxury sports watch that boasts the same water resistance. At the same time, it’s also slightly less luxurious because the platinum bezel is gone, and so is the beautifully finished and very comfortable steel bracelet that uplifts the look and defines the kind of watch that the Tonda is. You can actually buy the steel bracelet from the Tonda PF separately and put it on your Tonda PF Sport. It will fit, and although the prices were not communicated, it will likely pull the price up to the level of the platinum-bezeled one.
Parmigiani Tonda PF Sport Automatic: Is this the Tonda we’ve all been waiting for?
The most straightforward answer to the question, “is this the Tonda we’ve all been waiting for?” would be “no.” A steady supply of Tonda PF watches would do the trick to clean up the year-long waitlist. Regarding aesthetics, 1mm more in diameter and 2mm more in height does not make this iteration revolutionary different. Or doesn’t it? The way the 40 × 7.8mm version sits on the wrist is perfect: it’s a slim, svelte, and soft-spoken luxurious sports watch that’s very close to perfection. I’m not saying the new Sport is too big or too high to sit comfortably on the wrist, but it does
The devil is truly in the details when it comes to the Tonda PF. Because when looking at the date aperture on the new 41mm version, I noted it sits ever so slightly higher above the index at 6 o’clock than on the 40mm version. And I have trouble liking the date’s new position and the fact that it no longer blends in with the dial color – the contrasting black date disc relates to the black indexes, I get it, but I don’t feel it. Because of these changes, the date seems to be floating in empty space. More proof that sometimes millimeters do matter.
A show of hands
The last thing I need to address is the hands. The skeletonized delta-shaped, gold hands are fabulous. The added central seconds hand in the new Tonda PF is indeed a sporty twist. But wasn’t it the absence of that particular hand that provided so much classy appeal to the OG Tonda? I think so. I don’t want to be too crass or jump to conclusions, but the central rotor movement combined with a rubber strap and a steel bezel instead of a platinum one seems to be part of a strategy to cut costs. Is this steel and rubber version easier to produce too, and will it, therefore, make a lot of sense commercially? Possibly. One thing I know for sure is that the Tonda PF Sport Automatic made me realize (again) that the Tonda PF that came out in 2021 is a truly wonderful and near-perfect watch.
I need to see some hands now. Who thinks the new Tonda PF Sport Automatic is better than the original Tonda PF? And who thinks the two different Tonda models are indeed different enough to make sense sitting next to each other in the Parmigiani catalog? Honest answers only!
More information on all Tonda models is available on the official Parmigiani website.