Parmigiani Fleurier remains one of the watch industry’s top producers of movements and parts, as well as being a watchmaker. Their watch brand, Parmigiani, remains a distinctive and often evolving, integral element of the company which began as a romantic notion of the wealthy Sandoz family and Mr. Michel Parmigiani. Soon to celebrate their 20th anniversary, we can expect a lot of interesting and unique changes from the brand in 2017 and beyond. For now, let’s take a look at the Parmigiani Tonda Quator watch, which is the brand’s take on a comfortable daily-wear annual calendar.
The larger Tonda collection has proven quite successful for Parmigiani. It was a good attempt at taking their intentionally avant-garde design theme and making a comfortable, round watch. The most distinctive “Parmigiani” element is the curved “teardrop-style” lug design, which looks best when seen from the side of the case.
Parmigiani has produced the Tonda case for men in a number of sizes such as 39mm, 40mm, 41mm, and 42mm wide, and there perhaps may be even more variety. The Parmigiani Tonda Quator is 40mm wide and 11.2mm thick, but has an odd visual mass thanks to the Hermes alligator strap which is a sizable 25mm where it connects to the case and tapers down to 22mm wide. Proportionally, this is a much wider strap than you’d normally see on a 40mm-wide watch. This make the timepiece appear a bit more odd when off the wrist, but the wider strap actually helps the watch have more visual mass when on the wrist, in my opinion.
For a dress watch, the 40mm-wide size isn’t bad, even if my taste preferences are for something a bit larger. Parmigiani does produce a similar watch to the Parmigiani Tonda Quator in a 42mm wide case, but it’s hard to recommend from a value perspective. I am speaking of the Parmigiani Tonda Centum, which is a cousin to the Quator collection. The Tonda Centum is 42mm wide, contains the in-house made caliber PF333 automatic movement, and has a perpetual calendar. The Parmigiani Tonda Quator is 40mm wide, contains the in-house caliber PF339, and has an annual calendar. From a functional perspective, that means you need to adjust the calendar once in a while versus not really having to adjust the perpetual calendar, assuming the watch continues to run.
My issue in recommending the Tonda Centum is that it costs more than double the price of the Parmigiani Tonda Quator – and the movement architecture is mostly the same. The Tonda Centum was released prior to the Parmigiani Tonda Quator, and when the latter came out Parmigiani designed a dial that I actually like better – and, I believe, removed some of the components to make it an annual calendar versus a perpetual calendar.
From a marketing perspective, this makes sense since it is a good idea to have different options for different buyers, but people who pay attention more or less realize you get “most” of the Tonda Centum for half the price in the Parmigiani Tonda Quator. You can look at the dial of both the watches to see how the layout of the complication is the same, aside from some relatively simple changes such as dials for the day of the week and month versus discs under windows. I do, however, like the longer hands on the Centum.
Let’s just say that, for the most part, if you like this attractive movement and visual concept, in my opinion, the Parmigiani Tonda Quator is the way to go. If money is no object, then go with the one that your eyes and wrist more prefer. Both are available in precious metal cases, such as the 18k rose gold version of the Parmigiani Tonda Quator you see here.
The caliber PF339 movement is decently capable and begins with a sturdy automatic-winding base. The watch operates at 4Hz (28,800bph), has 50 hours of power reserve, and is very nicely decorated in typical Parmigiani fashion. You can view the movement through the sapphire crystal exhibition window on the rear of the case, as well as the attractively machine-engraved solid gold automatic rotor.