A Swiss Tradition: Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Watch

There are times when the watch makes the man, and there are times when the man makes the watch. The last several years have given the world a range of truly intense luxury watches with designs so bold, they often threaten to steal attention from the person wearing the watch. No doubt there are times we wish to adorn timepieces with personalities as large as their diameter, but this is not the traditional role of a fine timepieces.

For the better part of the 20th century, the Swiss watch industry held itself to conservative standards that resulted in many timepieces sharing similar qualities. The idea was for brands to offer subtle variations on agreed upon core designs that simply worked so well, they didn’t need much tampering with. A man wore a watch, and it was up to his good taste and worldly knowledge to select a good watch maker. Brands would focus on elements such as movement size and accuracy, case quality, and overall refinement. Watch buyers often trusted a name over design, which had people often asking questions such as “does it have a good movement?” referring to the fact that what was on the inside counted most. While the luxury watch industry has shifted a bit in terms of their adherence to only classically styled timepieces, they hold on proudly to tradition. A good watch maker today earns the right after establishing a core ‘brand look’ and a solid reputation as a reliable movement maker, to return to these past aspirations.

It is therefore a proud moment when a watch maker is able to release an undeniably simple timepiece that hearkens back to the mid 20th century when a precise mechanical movement could not be beat. After establishing a core brand image and proving itself as a movement maker, Parmigiani takes a confident step back into the past with the Tonda 1950 timepiece. A more subdued timepiece eager to please its wearer.

While classic in its execution, the Tonda 1950 is clearly a Parmigiani even at first glance. Aside from the oval framed logo, the curved lugs and elegant “Delta” hands (which are a clever design combination of leaf and dauphine style hands) point to its Parmigiani character. While retaining brand DNA, the watch is a minimalist breath of fresh air in comparison to many of day’s timepieces.

Minimal case thickness was once much more highly valued among fine timepieces. Inside the Tonda 1950 is a very automatic mechanical movement that is just 2.6 mm thick. The Calibre PF 700 movement is made in-house at Parmigiani and has a power reserve of 42 hours. The small size of the watch further made possible by the movement employing a solid 950 platinum micro-rotor. The movement has only the time and a subsidiary seconds dial. Movement finishing of course is top-notch, a particular source of pride at the Parmigiani manufacture.

The watch case itself is just 7.8 mm thick and 39 mm wide. Parmigiani offers the Tonda 1950 in 18-karat rose or white gold in an entirely polished finish. The rose gold version comes with a grained white dial, while the white gold model has a graphite toned and textured dial. Despite the sparsely populated dial, reading it proves much easier than watches with busy faces. The hands are lume covered for low light situations.

The Tonda 1950 is a simple and sturdy watch for more simple and sturdy times. It is a timepiece that enhances the wearer, rather than borrows too much attention. It comes matched to a brown or black alligator strap and retails for $18,500 (18-karat rose gold) or $20,500 (18-karat white gold). www.parmigiani.ch.

1. 39-mm wide 18-karat rose or white gold case
2. Alligator strap with matching gold buckle
3. Slightly textured “grained white” or graphite dial
4. In-house made automatic movement just 2.6mm thick with platinum micro-rotor

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.

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