May 13, 2023
by Ariel Adams
If you haven’t already noticed, Swiss Parmigiani Fleurier is a luxury brand to watch right now. Over the last few years, it has taken new leadership under Guido Terreni, who previously led the watchmaking division at Bulgari and ushered in a new era of success and positioning for the brand. Now at Parmigiani, he has undertaken the challenge of capitalizing on the incredible manufacturing and production capabilities of the brand and sought to redefine the form and poise of what a modern Parmigiani should be.
Parmigiani’s first major release under Terreni was the Tonda PF collection, which is a case and bracelet concept that can incorporate a variety of movements and materials. For 2022, one of the new Tonda PF collection watches was this Parmigiani Tonda PR GMT Rattrapante (first debuted on aBlogtoWatch here), and at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, the aBlogtoWatch team got a welcome opportunity to experience it. This timepiece from Parmigiani (not to mention the follow-up Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante, released at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023) wasn’t simply a new model but a breakout product that will continue to further uplift the work that Terreni and team are applying to the Parmigiani brand. In fact, aBlogtoWatch identified it as one of our top watches of the event at the 2022 show. So, let me take a moment to discuss why people were so excited about this new dual-time zone complication watch.
First, the basics. The Tonda PF GMT Rattranpante is 40mm-wide and 10.7mm-thick in a steel case and integrated bracelet design (case is water resistant to 60 meters). We’ve spoken a lot about the Tonda PF collection case already and generally really like it on the wrist when it comes to comfort and style. This is a watch that easily looks better on the wrist than in marketing images, where things like proportions can seem off. (For example, people feel that hour markers are too small but that isn’t an issue when you actually wear it on your wrist.) A key characteristic of the Tonda PF watches is elegant and subtle decoration. That includes the coined edging on the bezel, as well as the guilloche machine engraving treatment on the face. Text-wise the dial is very limited, with just the “PF” Parmigiani brand logo.
The movement inside the watch is the newly developed in-house Parmigiani caliber PF051. It is a relatively thin 4.9mm-thick mechanical movement that uses a 22k gold automatic micro-rotor. The movement operates at 3Hz and has 48 hours of power reserve. This new movement is special because it combines two complications into something a bit new. Those complications are a second time zone indicator and a rattrapante function. Before I explain how this system works, I want to make a note about terminology. The term “GMT” is used rather loosely here and, personally, I would not have chosen it. GMT watches are, indeed, those that present a second time zone, but typically one of those time zones is in 24-hour format (versus 12-hour). This watch has two time zones, each in a 12-hour format (you’ll need to keep track of AM/PM yourself). Thus, I wouldn’t have called this a GMT watch, but rather a “dual-time” or some other name to imply that it offers two time zones, but each in 12-hour format.
Next, you should understand that the point of this watch is not to offer a full-time second time zone, but rather one that can be used on demand, then hidden away when it isn’t needed. Parmigiani has designed the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante watch for people who want an elegant daily wear and who want to take their watch with them on the occasions when they travel. This is manifested in the watch’s ability to hide the second time zone, and reveal it when necessary.
Terreni reminds us that “rattrapante” more or less translates into “returning home.” The feature has normally been used to “hide” a split-second chronograph hand under the main chronograph seconds hand when it is not in use. The Tonda PF Rattrapante uses a heart-shaped cam which, when activated, uses the shortest possible direction in which to “return” the main time zone hand to its resting position over the travel hour hand. For Parmigiani, this allegory about “returning home” is an apt emotional means to explain the relevance of this complication to the watch. It’s fun to play with for sure, but allow me to more specifically explain how it functions.
When the gold-colored second time zone hand is hidden, it remains discreetly positioned under the main hour hand. In this form, the dial is an elegant two-hand display that is dressy and attractive. Now, look at the case, which has two additional pushers in it. One is located near the lugs between the 7 and 8 o’clock position, and the other (in gold) is integrated into the crown. This latter pusher is the rattrapante function which “returns” the primary hour hand to home (which would be the local time indicator when you are traveling), and the larger case pusher acts to advance the local (versus gold home time) time hand forward in one-hour increments. Thus, the dial indicates the main time and optionally features a second-time zone in 12-hour format. It is quite fun to press the local time zone hand pusher and then to “return” it to position by pressing the pusher located on the crown.
The variety of dual-time, GMT, and world-time watches out there is stunning. From extremely elegant and simple solutions such as this Parmigiani Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante to elaborate multi-time zone complications, variety in this space typifies the luxury watch market. One reason for that is simple: people who can afford high-end watches are often frequent travelers, and brands like Parmigiani know how important it is to be relevant to your audience. Indeed, a smartphone can offer much-expanded world time functionality, but they can rarely replicate the convenience of glancing at your wrist, nor the elegance of a mechanical timepiece. When all you want to do is recall the time at home, along with your local time, this particular Parmigiani watch is a great place to start your search. Not a limited edition but produced in limited amounts, the Parmigiani Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante watch has a price of $28,700 USD. Learn more at the Parmigiani watches website here.