There’s no turning back… the concept of the luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet is hot, and most brands, from accessible to high-end, have already entered this overcrowded market. Many have tried, some have succeeded, some haven’t. The most complex task posed by the 1970s trailblazers is for a brand to come up with a unique personality within the narrow mandates of the genre. On the one hand, it’s easy to become just another copycat of the icons. On the other hand, there are codes to respect and moving away from them might pose a risk. It is all about fine-tuning the recipe… And today, we’ll look at the recently launched Tondagraph GT Steel Panda Dial. Endowed with mechanical noblesse and a distinctive personality, Parmigiani’s take on the luxury sports watch is ready to compete in this difficult arena.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT collection was launched in 2020 as a highly personal take on the 1970s design trend that is so bankable these days yet infused with multiple signature elements that have made PF watches so unique in the past years. So yes, the Tondagraph GT is a sportier take on the brand’s slightly baroque, quite Italian design. It features an integrated design, a metallic bracelet, a sport-ish display and is powered by a refined manufacture movement. Initially presented in two versions, a 3-hand with large date and an annual calendar chronograph, these were limited editions that were probably testing the market.
For 2021, the Tondagraph GT returns but this time as regular production models in the permanent collection. Two new models have been introduced, both with silver and black panda-style dials: a Tondagraph GT in steel with annual calendar and chronograph, and a luxurious Tondagraph GT in rose gold with a sophisticated high-frequency integrated chronograph movement. Today, we’ll have a closer look at what’s probably the cornerstone model, the Tondagraph GT Steel Panda Dial on a steel bracelet.
The Tondagraph GT Steel Panda Dial
As we mentioned, it isn’t an easy task to enter the luxury sports watch market and create a watch with enough personality to make it unique while respecting the unmistakable codes of the genre. It is a subtle balance since the market is dominated by a handful of models that have defined the enthusiasts’ expectations – a community that is also extremely critical of copycats. It is a demanding and conservative market, but novelty and signature design cues are also a necessity. And since it has become an inevitable type of watch for respectable brands, some jumped on the bandwagon and fell off.
What Parmigiani Fleurier has done with its Tondagraph GT is to take its elegant and refined Tonda and the impressive Tonda Chronor Anniversaire and to adapt the codes of the luxury sports watch to their design – meaning a barrel-shaped case, a bracelet that flows into the lines of the case, a textured bezel, sport-ish credentials yet a healthy dose of refinement and luxury.
So, how does that translate in real life? The starting point of most watches in the Tonda collection is the signature teardrop-shaped lugs that have shaped this collection for many years now. These have been absorbed into the casebands and are now part of the barrel-shaped central container. The case is made of stainless steel and is mostly polished, giving it a slightly more luxurious touch than classic models in this market. In the same vein, the top of the watch reveals a finely fluted bezel, which is also one of the key elements of PF’s design.
The most important thing to retain in this design is its succession of convex and concave shapes, which set this watch apart from the rest of the 1970s-inspired models, often associated with sharp polished angles and flat brushed surfaces. None of that here, but despite this unique take on the concept, the brand has managed to respect some of the typical codes of the category and to make this watch entirely in line with its DNA. Now, this watch is highly complex in terms of shapes and textures and its design is very personal and quite striking. It might not be the most consensual model on the market, and it will certainly find its detractors as well as its fans. Nevertheless, no one will be able to blame PF for lack of audacity or for being influenced by existing models.
Back to more rational matters, the case measures 42mm in diameter and has a relatively acceptable height of 13.7mm (considering the complications within). The side profile reveals a well-thought design, with an ergonomic shape and rather short lugs. The curvature of the end link also makes this watch compact enough for most men’s wrists. Despite its relatively luxurious appeal, the Tondagraph GT is water-resistant to 100 meters and features a screw-in crown. A nice touch, the pushers are shaped like the lugs with a teardrop profile. This watch is smoother than most competitors, and that’s where PF might gain some points.
Parmigiani has given these new non-limited Tondagraph GT more contrast and a nice, sporty touch with their panda-style dials. The base is silver-coloured and adorned with a fine guilloché clou triangulaire pattern. Relatively discreet from a distance, the texture is nicely executed and adds to the charm of this watch. All other elements of the dial have been treated in contrasting colours, enhancing the overall legibility. The three sub-counters – small seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour recorders – are classic black with white markings. Also, the rhodium-plated markers and hands are filled with black-coloured Super-LumiNova, which is great for daytime readability, a bit less for lowlight conditions. Finally, the date discs are also black, which is certainly a great option in this B&W context.
As you’ve understood, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT is a chronograph. But there’s more, as it is also an annual calendar, which displays the date on two separate discs, as well as the month in a discreet window in the small seconds sub-dial at 3 o’clock. As a reminder, the annual calendar (invented by Patek in 1996) is a practical complication that takes into account the months with 30 or 31 days, automatically adjusting to the right date at the end of the month and only requiring one correction a year, at the end of February. More satisfying than a classic calendar and yet less fragile than a complex perpetual calendar, it is a very satisfying compromise.
Powering this Tondagraph GT is modular calibre PF043 manufacture movement. This engine is based on the brand’s classic automatic movement with two additional modules on top (positioned dial-side); one for the chronograph and the other for the annual calendar. Despite this relative complexity, the movement is quite thin – 7.4mm in height – allowing for a watch that sits well on the wrist. The automatic base that drives these functions beats at 4Hz and delivers 45 hours of power reserve. The decoration is pleasant with a 22k gold rotor and bridges with Geneva stripes and polished bevels.
As for the bracelet, Parmigiani provides a large and well-integrated design, again with a certain baroque flair that complements the look of the watch. It is closed by a triple folding clasp. Alternatively, you can also order the Tondagraph GT Steel Panda Dial on a black rubber strap.
Availability & price
The Parmigiani Tondagraph GT Steel Panda Dial is part of the permanent collection. It is priced at EUR 18,500 or CHF 18,500 on a rubber strap and EUR 19,500 or CHF 19,500 on a steel bracelet.
For more details, please visit www.parmigiani.com.