The annual calendar timepiece has been having a moment lately, as brands aim for that sweet spot between simple day-date and highly complex perpetual calendar complications. The latest to join the party is Parmigiani Fleurier, and its new offering, the Tonda Annual Calendar, is as distinctive in the category as the watchmaker’s fans would expect.
The watch marks the debut of a new movement, Caliber PF339, which combines a retrograde annual calendar with a highly precise moon-phase. The latest of the 20-plus calibers developed by Michel Parmigiani over his eponymous brand’s 24-year existence, it is ensconced inside a round, polished-finish 40-mm case made of either rose gold or white gold.
Unlike most other annual calendar movements, its date indication works on the basis of a 29-day duration for February, meaning the owner needs to re-set the watch once a year at the end of February, except in leap years — so, really, only three years out of four. For the following 365 days, from March through the end of the January, the mechanism requires no adjustment. The retrograde date indication — with its half-moon-shaped pointer advancing through a 31-day scale arching over the top half of the dial before jumping back — is designed to never obscures the moon-phase display at 6 o’clock. The day of the week and the month are indicated on subdials at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, respectively.
The so-called “precision” moon-phase function is also notable, as it requires correction only once every 122 years. This exceptional accuracy compensates for the difference between the classic lunar cycle (29 days and 12 hours) and the actual lunar cycle (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds). The moon-phase aperture itself is differently designed than most, showing both a northern- and southern-hemisphere view of the lunar body — a touch that Parmigiani believes will make the watch desirable to more potential owners around the world. The moon disks are made of solid rose gold and hover over a dark blue, star-dotted sky made of aventurine glass.
The Tonda Annual Calendar is described by Parmigiani as a more “understated” version of another annual calendar watch it launched in 2011, the Tonda Quator. The bezel has been enlarged from that of the predecessor model to reveal as much of the dial as possible, while the minute track and hour indices have been pushed to the dial’s outer periphery for a “floating” effect. The numerals on the date scale have been moved inside the minute track, and the entire dial has been rearranged for a three-dimensional, multi-level look. The hallmark Delta-shaped hands are slimmer and longer, while still proportionally following the rules of Michel Parmigiani’s guiding principle of the golden ratio. The rose-gold-cased version has a white, grained dial, while the a white-gold-cased model is graced with a black opaline dial.
The self-winding PF339 caliber that powers the timepiece is based on the existing Caliber PF331 (used in other Parmigiani models such as the Toric Chronomètre) and adds a module to drive the retrograde annual calendar and precision moon-phase functions. The movement holds a power reserve of 50 hours in a series-mounted double barrel — a barrel architecture that helps stabilize the distribution of energy so it is transmitted to the regulator at a constant level. The familiar haute horlogerie decorations that Parmigiani-philes have come to expect are all in evidence, including hand-beveled bridges with côtes de Genève decoration and a solid rose-gold rotor adorned with a guilloché barley grain motif. All of these details are, of course, on display through a sapphire exhibition caseback.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Annual Calendar comes on a black alligator leather strap (made by Hermès, as are all Parmigiani straps) with a folding buckle in the same precious metal as the case. Both models are priced at $29,600.