Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Quator

This Tonda Quator only stops on February 28th. And yet…

Parmigiani Fleurier has put forward an amazing annual calendar with an accurate moon phase that only has to be wound three times every four years.

By Marco Cattaneo

Some watches are masters of concealement and hide all their inner complicated mechanisms under a streamlined dial. Others, however, play the transparency card and make sure to reveal the quality of their movement, with the imprints of each of their modules and complications clearly visible on  the dial. Introduced for the first time in 2011, the Tonda Quator by Parmigiani Fleurier clearly belongs to the second category.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Quator Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Quator

Some clues for aficionados

An aperture here, counters or retrograde hands there: hints that aficionados can easily decipher. This watch displays its annual calendar in such an obvious way that it looks classic and even almost sober despite its numerous indications. It is not about showing off but rather plain facts that also prove the brand’s supreme skills. An alligator strap produced by Hermès accompanies the elegant and sober piece.

I attach the watch to my wrist and look at in wonder. I will only have to wind it three times in the next four years and make another little adjustment every 120 years because of the moon phase, but more on that later. Its mechanism distinguishes even days from odd days. The calendar’s retrograde hand from the 30th to the 1st, only when required, and the little red crescent at its tip is the only color touch on the dial, thus allowing for perfect readability. The only instance of the retrograde hand not jumping automatically is from February 28th to March 1st, when, unlike pertual calendars, it must be manually wound.

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The exception to the exception

Yet, as complexity is often synonym of beauty in horology, there is an exception to that exception: on leap years, the Tonda Quator jumps from February 29 to March 1st on its own. No, really, things are slightly less complex than they seem. In fact, the watch jumps from February 29 to March 1st every year, hence the need to wind the watch on years when February only counts 28 days. This explains why the watch is wound three times in four years.

The accurate moon phase disk at 6 o'clock needs setting, too, although the wearer of the Tonda Quator will only have to do that once in a lifetime. And only if they reach a very old age, too, for it only needs to be set once every 120 years to keep up with the real lunar cycle. With its two pink gold moons, the disk spins under a cover that is unusually skeletonized at the top and at the bottom, from where the two moon phases are visible – the top one indicates the phases in the Northern Hemisphere whilst the one at the bottom shows the equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere.

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A nod to mechanics

As tradition has it at Parmigiani Fleurier, the watch presents a refined finish and every little detail that press releases never cover, which give it allure when it is worn, are very seductive. It feels like a discreet appointment, like a nod to mechanics on the wrist. I personally really appreciate the layout of the indexes that graze the edge of the bezel between 4 and 8 o'clock and then come closer to the center of the dial between 10  and 12 o'clock to leave room for the day calendar. I also like how the two timers – indicating days and months at 3 and 9 o'clock respectively – and the moon phase disk jostle the flange a bit to create a subtle wave-like effect in the circle they form.

Through the sapphire glass of the 40-mm gold case I can admire the elegance of the chamfered bridges, which together form a visible circle made of three elements that join without touching and close the balance-cock. The case has a slightly smaller diameter than that of the self-winding caliber PF339. Thus, a kind of groove is created right against the case's sides; a track on which the rim of the oscillating mass runs and that seems to be engraved in the movement's thickness.

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