Entirely new for 2020 is the Parmigiani Tonda GT and Tondagraph GT, two of the brand’s most casual and everyday wearable pieces to date. These leisure watches (a term I find increasingly appropriate) also debut a new integrated bracelet by Parmigiani, as well as a rubber strap option. I got to go hands-on with the black dial Tonda GT in steel here, but it is also available in gold with a blue dial. There are two inaugural models in the collection, the time and date Tonda GT and the steel Tondagraph GT with annual calendar and chronograph. The Tonda GT in steel will be limited to 250 pieces, the Tonda GT in gold will be limited to 150 pieces, and the Tondagraph GT will only be available in steel and limited to 200 pieces.
I will have a longer hands-on article about the Tondagraph GT very soon this week, so this article is going to focus on the Tonda GT. Briefly, the Tondagraph GT offers an impressive annual calendar/chronograph complication housed in a new 42mm-wide/13.7mm-thick case with a 100M water resistance. The orange touches on the Tondagraph GT seem to throw a welcome splash of color to the dial, which has the same guilloché “clou triangulaire” pattern. What’s most intriguing about the Tondagraph GT is the $19,500 price for an annual calendar/chronograph, and I’ll give my full hands-on impressions of it very soon. (Price is $19,500 on the integrated bracelet, rubber strap is $18,500).
So far, the sportiest Parmigiani has really gotten is the Tonda Metrographe, which is a piece I reviewed a few years back. The Tonda GT takes things further, introducing an all-new integrated bracelet (though this is not their first) and case that was designed with the help of Dino Modolo, who has previously worked with Bedat & Co., Corum, and others.
The Tonda GT case is inspired by the Tonda Chronor, though there are adjustments to the lugs, which retain that teardrop shape while allowing for the new integrated bracelet. First off, it’s so comfortable on the wrist, with the links cascading naturally from Michel Parmigiani’s recognizable teardrop lugs. The center links alternate between larger polished and smaller brushed segments, while the end-links are impressively finished with both brushing and polishing. The double-folding clasp is nice and secure, rounding out a very well done bracelet that shines as a piece of “functional jewelry” in the words of aBlogtoWatch founder Ariel Adams.
While pointing out steel luxury sports watches with integrated bracelets has become a bit of a tired trope, at this point, it should be noted that this isn’t Parmigiani’s first. The aforementioned Metrographe had an integrated steel and titanium bracelet, though the flair of its “lobster” styling may have been a bit too much for some. The Nautilus and Royal Oak bracelets are admittedly impressive and, perhaps more importantly, influential. That said, having worn and spent time with pieces like the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus, H. Moser & Cie Streamliner, and this Parmigiani Tonda GT, it’s clear that the big names have nothing close to a monopoly on top-tier bracelets.
Still, one does not simply integrate a bracelet and deem it a success. A truly successful bracelet must exceed the sum of individual parts and enhance the watch as a whole. Parmigiani largely succeeds here in creating a bracelet with a seamless sense of continuity with the case, such that it verges on symbiosis. Yes, it’s a bit elaborate, but this is Parmigiani we are talking about. They are not interested in the minimalist route, and the Tonda GT bracelet is all Parmigiani. What would I change? Honestly, not a lot. As nice as the double-folding clasp is, I do think Lange’s Odysseus picked relatively low-hanging fruit by offering a precision adjustment mechanism that allows for up to 7mm of size adjustment without having to take the watch off the wrist. I’d love to see some version of this function in future bracelets from Parmigiani.
The Parmigiani Tonda GT is also available on a rubber bracelet, which is very supple and super-comfortable. It has thoughtful design touches that add to the cohesion of the entire piece, like stripes that track from the lugs and a guilloché pattern that matches the dial of the watch. The rubber strap is a nice option, though it’s hard to recommend it in comparison to the bracelet. Personally, I think Parmigiani should do what some brands like Vacheron Constantin does with the Overseas and simply provide the bracelet and straps with every watch rather than having an option to choose.
The Tonda GT case measures 42mm-wide, 11.2mm-thick, with a lug-to-lug height of 46.5mm. Importantly, the Tonda GT and Tondagraph GT are water-resistant to 100M, which is an important metric for the whole identity of this piece as a sportier Parmigiani. I’d classify the Tonda GT as more of a leisure watch than a sports watch, but no matter the nomenclature I am glad Parmigiani paid attention to water resistance, as I recall the Metrographe had something like 30M.
The stepped bezel is interesting, as it is fluted on the outer ring and then is smooth as it slopes upward towards the crystal. The fluting is a nod to Parmigiani’s Toric collection, which boasts far more elaborately decorative knurling on the bezels, which is both too costly for a watch at the price point of the Tonda GT as well as too formal.
The fluted bezel and teardrop lugs firmly plant the Tonda GT’s feet in the ground as a Parmigiani watch, love it or leave it. These decorative and stylized facets of the case wouldn’t be at home in most ordinary sports watches, but I think luxury leisure watches are only made better with flair and identity (again, see the Odysseus).
The steel Tonda GT has a black dial while the gold models are done in blue with matching 18k gold hands/indices, however, all the dials have a guilloché “clou triangulaire” pattern. There is the big-date indicator at 12 o’clock and a double-track running seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, both of which are Parmigiani design touches directly carried over from the Tonda Chronor. The skeletonized Delta-shaped hands are quite polished but are legible enough (though another application of AR coating would not hurt here). There is, however, lume on the very tip of the hour and minutes hands, as well as on the rhodium-plated hour indices.
The Tonda GT is outfitted with the PF044 movement, a new automatic caliber made of 274 components and 33 jewels. The movement operates at 28,800 vph and has a 45-hour power reserve. There are Geneva stripes throughout the movement, but the 22k-gold rotor is where the eye is drawn when looking at the PF044. It’s a really well-finished and impressive-looking movement, all things considered. Of course, it’s not what Parmigiani offers at the higher end of the spectrum, but it is still very nice for this price point.
The Tonda GT is a fun new offering from Parmigiani that still retains Michel Parmigiani’s design DNA while rethinking some facets in order to create a truly wearable leisure watch. It’s got flair but isn’t formal or dressy, and the water resistance will go a long way for many buyers. The Parmigiani Tonda GT in steel seen here is limited to 250 pieces and priced at $13,500 on rubber strap and $14,500 on steel bracelet. The Tonda GT in gold is limited to 150 pieces and priced at $24,900 on rubber strap and $49,500 on gold bracelet. You can learn more about the Tonda GT here at parmigianiamericas.com.