Except if you’ve been living in a cave for the past three or four years, you might well be aware that the hottest watch category these days is the so-called luxury sports watch. Based on 1970s inspirations, equipped with an integrated bracelet, mixing daily capacities with refined mechanics, they’ve become something of a necessity for any watchmaking brand that wants to be taken seriously. Can we blame them? Certainly not, all of these new contenders are simply answering market demand. Parmigiani Fleurier has recently decided that it wants a seat at the table, and preferably next to the main icons of the so-called Holy Trinity. And for that, it has created a completely new collection, including this Tonda PF Micro-Rotor. But is it any good?
WHAT IS A LUXURY SPORTS WATCH?
We’ve explained what we consider are the key traits of a luxury sports watch many times in the past, but since there is no fixed definition, a quick reminder will be helpful. According to our own definition and to many in the industry, the concept of the luxury sports watch was born in 1972, under the pen of Gérald Genta, who designed the Royal Oak for Audemars Piguet. Back then, it was a deeply disruptive product. It was provocative, expensive, bold and sharper than anything else on the market. Observing the success of this new category, many watchmakers jumped on board the train – Vacheron with the 222, Patek with the Nautilus, IWC with the Ingenieur, Rolex with the Oysterquartz, and countless others.
But why “luxury sports watch”? The whole idea behind these watches was to combine the superior watchmaking credentials of brands such as AP, VC or PP, with ultra-thin, finely decorated movements and cases that were made of stainless steel, with decent robustness and comfortable water-resistance. Most of these watches also displayed refined dials executed with traditional techniques, but the designs were more modern, sporty and far more casual than classic dress watches of the late 1960s. The liberation of mentalities also influenced the watchmaking industry.
There might be no fixed definition, but a real luxury sports watch must answer certain requirements. It has to be available in steel, it usually has a shaped case (barrel-shaped for most), often a nautical inspiration, a thin profile made possible by the use of an ultra-thin automatic movement, a minimum water-resistance of 50 metres (and possibly more), a simple display but a patterned dial, a raised bezel with a complex shape or texture and, most importantly, an integrated metallic bracelet that blends perfectly with the sides of the case.
IS THE TONDA PF MICRO-ROTOR A PROPER LUXURY SPORTS WATCH?
Spoiler: yes! Clearly, this very short answer to a complex question was expected. Not only is this appreciable at first sight, but this was the clear intention of Parmigiani Fleurier when it unveiled this collection, specifically this Tonda PF Micro-Rotor version as discussed in a video interview with the newly appointed CEO of the brand, Guido Terreni – and the man knows a thing or two about luxury sports watches (LSW).
But now that we’ve answered the ‘if’, let’s look at the ‘why’. If we look back at our definition above, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor ticks most of the boxes (if not all of them). It is relatively compact, it has a slender profile (enough to be called ultra-thin), it has a shaped case, a bracelet that perfectly blends with the lines of the case, it is available in stainless steel, it retains a certain robustness while also showing high-end details, its dial is both sleek and textured and inside is a handsome movement with fine execution. So yes, in my books and I guess in the mind of many watch enthusiasts, there is no doubt regarding the qualifications of the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor as a proper luxury sports watch.
Thankfully, the Tonda PF is not a copycat. While sharing most of the classic attributes of an LSW, it remains true to the design elements first introduced by Michel Parmigiani in 1996, when he created his brand. Having said that, it is time to look at the Tonda PF Micro-Rotor in detail.
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