Guido Terreni, CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier, on how the Tonda PF impresses in terms of both design and mechanics
Having joined Parmigiani Fleurier as CEO in early 2021, Guido Terreni’s strategy involves the refocusing of the brand around elegance, discretion, and an eye for detail. “It’s reactivating a brand which is very prestigious in the mind of the customer,” he explains. “What was missing was an interpretation of the taste of today, to understand the Parmigiani customer of today – what would they be wearing, and the values of refined, understated luxury that made the brand so prestigious. And the response to that question was the Tonda PF.”
A new collection that launched only a few months after Terreni’s appointment, a Tonda PF timepiece is the sort that the wearer needs a bit of time with to understand. Its best features are the subtle qualities that experienced horology fans look for – the supreme suppleness of the bracelet, for instance, or the way the display case-back lifts the watch ever-so-slightly off the wrist so that said bracelet drapes better from the lugs. Or even, how the tightness of the guilloche pattern is such that it looks like a solid dial until it catches the light up close. It makes for an everyday watch that is remarkably restrained – no single visual element is overemphasised, and the full signature has been dropped for an unassuming ‘PF’ logo.
A year-and-a-half later, and Terreni has found his market. “It’s incredible to see the fever around this watch. In a few months, we had a one-year waiting list,” he says. The interested parties are connoisseurs: experienced collectors, and extremely knowledgeable. “They are educated to luxury in general, because you have to have an eye for the details that we provide. They are subtle, you discover them by wearing the watch. But you have to be sensitive to that kind of finishing, which not everybody is,” he adds. “People that are looking into Parmigiani are people who are separating themselves from the mainstream. They are fed up with seeing the same watch on many wrists, you know. They are looking for something more personal, more elegant, refined, understated.”
Where the introduction of the Tonda PF was purely an exercise in design – the launch collection used existing movements – the novelties introduced at this year’s Watches & Wonders are meant to impress on a technical level. They included the Tonda PF Skeleton (from S$85,532) and the Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon (S$202,957 and limited to 25 pieces) but the most talked-about was the GMT Rattrapante (S$37,692). An exercise in minimalism, it eschews many of the usual trappings of the GMT complication, dropping date window, day/night indicators, and even a seconds hand. Its unique feature is the pusher on the crown, which will cause the local time hand to snap back to its hiding place underneath the home time hand. It is the first time ever that a rattrapante mechanism has been applied to something outside a chronograph. “We’re talking about something useful, something that you can use every day,” Terreni says. “And we reinterpreted this function in a subtle way, such that it is there when you need it and not there when you don’t.”
It says a lot that Terreni, with his wealth of envelope-pushing experience in timepieces, initiated the development of the GMT Rattrapante just three days after he became CEO. “Independent brands have an obligation to push the boundaries of watchmaking, and you have to do that also on the technical side. Developing functions that are innovative is part of what we want to do,” he explains. “A world premiere is something we have to have the ambition to tackle, because it’s fun. It’s creative, it’s interesting,” he says, and with a smile, he adds, “it’s refusing to stay in the past.”