Guido Terreni, CEO, Parmigiani Fleurier, on the rise of the Tonda PF line

The Tonda PF line was created under the leadership of Guido Terreni with the goal of making it the epitome of the new, rejuvenated brand image
How does one rework an iconic design so that it speaks the language of today? Since the Tonda PF line was launched in 2021, it has only grown from strength to strength. Guido Terreni, CEO, Parmigiani Fleurier, spoke to us about how the Tonda PF line was created within eight months of his joining the brand, and where it is headed to in the coming years.  
The Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante

Brand values
"The first thing I did when I came to Parmigiani was to clarify some basic questions, such as: What does this brand stand for? Why does it exist? What makes its products recognisable?
There are two core values at Parmigiani Fleurier. The first has to do with the in-depth watchmaking expertise of our founder, Michel Parmigiani. As a restorer-and Michel is one of the best in the world-you must master the art of watchmaking at the highest level. This includes both technical skill and knowledge of the entire history. The second value is based on understatement. A good restorer has to make himself somewhat invisible because his job is to reveal the work of the original creator. Michel Parmigiani totally combines mastery and restraint, and this combination is also what defines our brand."

Design codes

The miniaturised guilloche on the dial is one of the brand's design codes

We created the Tonda PF line to appeal to a younger audience, between the ages of 30 and 50. During the first 25 years after Parmigiani Fleurier's founding in 1996, the brand had aged along with its clients. The label lacked a response to the fact that our way of living, behaving, and dressing has become much more informal.

We defined several design codes. First, the elliptical logo with the letters 'PF': It was previously hidden in the movement and on the crown but we gave it a more prominent location on the dial. Second, the decoration of the dial:: Their guilloché work was absolutely top-notch in terms of its craftsmanship, but it looked a bit old-fashioned. How could we give a more modern look to the guilloche pattern?

The Tonda PF

The solution was to miniaturise it. This transforms the pattern into a kind of texture. Like the woven pattern on a fine men's suit: You feel it more than you see it. The third code had already been defined and we kept it mostly unchanged: the skeletonised deltoid hands. And the fourth code was also already present on some Tonda models: The use of particularly small indexes.

Work on the details

The Tonda PF

As for the fifth design code, I was lucky. One day I saw a macro shot of our Islamic Hijri calendar and it created an optical illusion. It looked to me as though the peripheral minute scale was on a lower plane than the dial. In reality, it was just a shadow, but that's how I got the idea to lower the minute scale on the Tonda PF. By lowering the scale, using small indexes, making the logo smaller, and skeletonising the hands, we give more space to the dial and its micro-guilloché, and we make it stand out visually. As you can see, all these codes have a lot to do with skill and understatement, and that's why they fit Parmigiani very well. At the same time, this resulted in a design that has more appeal for a younger audience.

Dusting off the guilloché

The Tonda PF caseback

I wanted a guilloché that would produce a very small-scale pattern. Those were my instructions for the team. One day the development manager came to me and said, "You wanted tiny guilloché, so we made it tiny!" It was so small you could hardly see it at all! I suggested we make several slightly larger variations: 10-per cent, 20-percent and 30-per cent larger. Finally, we decided on the one that was 10-per cent larger than the prototype. That's what makes the Tonda PF's guilloché so special: It is invisible and visible at the same time. Depending on how the light falls, you have the impression of either a smooth or a patterned dial. Thanks to this miniaturisation, we've dusted off the topic of guilloché and made it attractive to a younger audience.

The pattern
The guilloché pattern on the dial of the Tonda PF is a vertically aligned barleycorn pattern, which is called grain d'orge in French. This variety of guilloché is used in many Parmigiani collections, like the Kalpa or the Toric, where it was circular. On the Tonda PF, the individual elements of the guilloché are triangular, which makes the pattern look more geometric and sportier. We made it vertical and small on the dial of the Tonda PF.

Informality and style
Our grandfathers wore a tuxedo when they went out to dine in a restaurant. Everything in those days was much more formal. And that formality gave you a certain security. You simply followed the rules of etiquette and you couldn't go too far wrong. Today, everything is much more informal, so you can get off on the wrong foot much more quickly. That's why it has become all the more important to have your own personal style. It takes a trained eye to discern what is tasteful. Anything that isn't discreet and subtle is not suitable for the Tonda PF. We need to take this into account when we think about how we might expand the collection because even when you do something technical, you are still designing.

Conversely, there is also design and beauty in technical solutions. It's not interesting to simply imitate the past. Instead, watchmaking tradition has to be reinterpreted in terms of a more contemporary style.

Images: Courtesy brand

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