Sunday Morning Showdown: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor Vs. H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds
In our Sunday Morning Showdown series, two writers go head to head in an epic showdown for the ages. Strong opinions and hysterical hyperbole are welcome (so feel free to join in with the fun in the comments section below). And don’t forget to let us know which watches you’d like to see torn to shreds/effusively exalted next week. We’ll try to feature as many of our readers’ choices as possible. Today’s showdown is all about two modern sports watches that have gotten a lot of praise — the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF and the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds.
Sports watches with integrated bracelets remain all the rage. We see new brands inspired by Gérald Genta’s designs stepping into the arena every single week. Just last week, Christopher Ward introduced The Twelve as the brand’s take on the popular silhouette. Just the week before, H. Moser & Cie. presented the second version of its Streamliner Centre Seconds with a stunning “Smoked Salmon” dial. It’s only the second Streamliner Centre Seconds model after the Matrix Green version that came out in 2020. In today’s battle, it goes up against the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor, which debuted in 2021. It’s the “standard” model in the much-praised Tonda PF collection. It’s also a watch that we haven’t featured before on Sunday Morning Showdown, so we would love to hear your opinions.
Last week, on Sunday Morning Showdown…
But first, let’s take a look at last week’s results. You Fratelli made it very clear that Ben’s Grand Seiko SBGW295 was no match for Jorg’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Monoface Small Seconds. The Reverso won the battle by garnering no less than 70% of the votes against 30% for the SBGW295. Funnily enough, a lot of people in the comments expressed their love for the Grand Seiko, making it seem like a much more balanced contest. But the votes tell us differently. Additionally, a lot of the comments discussed the high prices for both models. We’re seeing this more and more often and discuss it within the Fratello team. Thomas wrote an article about the increase in prices recently, and we also did a podcast in which Jaeger-LeCoultre’s price increases took center stage. This discussion is definitely to be continued. For now, it’s over to Jorg and Thomas for this week’s showdown.
Jorg: H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds
I have to admit, Thomas, it wasn’t love at first sight with the Streamliner. Its steampunk-esque aesthetic was not necessarily something I was drawn to when the watch made its debut. Around the same time, Czapek released its brilliant Antarctique, and that was the watch that impressed me more. But my first face-to-face meeting with the Streamliner completely changed that. That’s when it clicked, and all the pieces of the puzzle came together, from the case and the bracelet to the hands and the minute track. It’s a thing of sheer beauty.
Obviously, we have seen multiple versions of the Streamliner, but the one that stands out for me is the Centre Seconds version. Its simplicity lets all the brilliantly designed elements stand out perfectly. Up until a couple of weeks ago, H. Moser & Cie. had only released the Matrix Green version of that specific model. After it sold out, it was time to get a follow-up to that stunning green version, and only a couple of weeks ago, Moser released a new one with a beautiful “Smoked Salmon” dial. It showed the brilliance of the Streamliner perfectly and is a great iteration of the simplest model in the model line.
Some basic Streamliner specs
As I explained in my introduction article, the great success of the Streamliner series starts with its design. Its outspoken looks make for a series of watches that stand out immediately. As a result, the Streamliner is one of those model series that has lovers and haters. To get some specs out of the way, the 40mm stainless steel cushion case has retained its predecessor’s diameter and shape, and it measures 10.3mm thick without the domed crystal. With the sapphire crystal, the total thickness is still a nice 12.1mm. The case is still 120m water resistant and features a screw-down crown with the Moser “M” signature.
If you turn the Steamliner Centre Seconds Smoked Salmon around, you can see the in-house HMC 200 caliber inside. The automatic movement operates at 21,600vph, has 27 jewels, and provides a minimum power reserve of three days. The movement is finished beautifully with Moser stripes and features a skeletonized 18K rose gold rotor with the brand’s signature. This caliber features the automatic bidirectional pawl winding system and comes with an original Straumann hairspring.
Smoked Salmon, anyone?
The undisputed star of the show is the Smoked Salmon dial. While some people will dispute its resemblance to salmon, I simply love this hue. Whether you want to call it salmon, smoked salmon, copper, or whatever else you envision, it is a stunning color. And the people at Moser know that there is no universal salmon color as they poked a bit of fun at their own “Smoked Salmon” in the press release. But it’s not just the color that makes me love the Streamliner and only like the Tonda PF, Thomas. Yes, I do like the Tonda PF, but there is one thing that I have been struggling with ever since it came out. A certain emptiness to the dial keeps me from loving it.
The short hour markers with the conventional minute track leave a big, open space in the middle, with only the PF logo on the upper half and a date window on the lower half. Sure, the intricate texture on the dial gives it some depth, but it doesn’t fill up the huge space with something exciting. And that’s where the Streamliner wins it for me. The dial itself is more exciting with its fumé effect and “griffé” finish. It starts light in the center and gradually becomes darker toward the edges of the dial where you find the brilliantly designed minute track. It features two shorter markers between every minute marker. Additionally, they alternate in position, creating a very funky design.
It’s all in the details
As I explained in the introduction article, one of the defining elements of the Streamliner is its handset. I definitely love the Tonda’s open hands, but they are no match for what Moser came up with. The curved hour and minute hands consist of two sections that look amazing. The ceramic-based Globolight inserts give the hands character and serve their purpose in the dark. Combined with the razor-sharp design of the central seconds hand, they make one of my favorite handsets in the game.
I could go on for a bit, but I’ll wrap it up with the magnificent bracelet. This bracelet was the start of the adventure for this watch as it’s what H. Moser & Cie. designed first. If you have experienced a Streamliner up close, you know that the bracelet makes every version an absolute joy to wear. Once on the wrist, you will find out that this Streamliner Centre Seconds is worth the CHF 19,900. And I would pick it over the big hitters in this category any day, especially on Sunday. I would also not hesitate to pick it over your Tonda PF, Thomas. It’s a matter of loving and liking. I like the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor, but I love the Streamliner Centre Seconds. It’s that simple.
Thomas: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor
This comparison is quite extraordinary, my dear Fratelli. I think these are two of the most original iterations of the familiar integrated-bracelet sports watch. Both are genuinely wholly manufactured in-house, and both feature distinct, original designs. There are also both around the €20K mark, making them head-to-head competitors. The Tonda PF Micro-Rotor comes in at CHF 22,000, making it only slightly more expensive than the Streamliner Centre Seconds. There has even been a limited edition of the Tonda PF in a salmon color, matching the Smoked Salmon Moser perfectly. We have, however, opted to compare models that are still available today.
As much as I admire both watches, I do have a pretty strong preference for the Tonda PF. And most of it boils down to design and aesthetics. I will get into that in a bit, but there is some mechanical stuff to cover first. This watch comes with the 3mm-slim micro-rotor caliber PF703. Its platinum oscillating weight is beautifully decorated on a rose engine. So far, that is three points in favor of Parmigiani’s caliber — slimness, an unobstructed view, and more intricate decoration. It also allows the entire watch to remain under 8mm thick, a full 4.5mm less than the Moser.
Would I have rather seen it without a date? Well, yes, but that is entirely subjective. I know a solid chunk of our reader base would not consider watches without date complications. So let’s just say this watch is for them.
On to the design now. I already mentioned that these are two highly original designs. However, neither is free of “faults” or quirks. They both have that distinct “independent” aesthetic, not quite as polished (in the figurative sense) as some big-group offerings.
You know I am incredibly picky when it comes to end links, right? Well, the Parmigiani’s aren’t quite as remarkable as much of the rest of the watch. The crown also feels a bit like an afterthought. Beyond that, I think the Tonda is an incredibly congruent and attractive design.
The Streamliner, on the other hand, looks a little fragmental to me. I certainly see the inspiration from the 1930s streamlined trains in the case and bracelet. The dial, however, clearly takes inspiration from ’70s designs. The handset is thoroughly modern, and the logo is decoratively classical. These things make it less elegantly cohesive than the Tonda PF.
Looking more closely at the Tonda PF’s design
Parmigiani struck the perfect balance between elegance and muscularity. The details on the Tonda PF make it supremely refined, while the overall profile gives it visual strength. The devil really is in the details here.
Look, for instance, at the lugs. They extend outside of the case, as if the case isn’t broad enough for them, suggesting width. This effect is exaggerated by the brushing on the bracelet, which exceeds the center links. Putting the transition to polished steel in the middle of the outer links, again, suggests width. Paired with ample negative space on the dial, it provides the Tonda PF with a very aggressive stance on the wrist. I get your point about the negative space, Jorg. Subjectively, though, I think it works better on the Tonda PF than on the equally empty Streamliner.
Then we have the finely reeded bezel and the beautifully intricate guilloché work on the dial. They conspire with the undersized indices and subtly skeletonized hands to provide the required elegance. Marrying this muscularity and elegance is no easy feat. Parmigiani pulls it off with flair and a style all its own.
Time to vote!
There you have it, folks — another Sunday-morning battle with two popular timepieces going toe to toe for the win! Will the new H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds Smoked Salmon get your vote? Or are you a fan of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and let us know why you also picked it in the comments. See you next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!