July 9, 2020
by Bilal Khan
Alongside the Tonda GT this week, Parmigiani released the Tondagraph GT, a piece that I think is their most compelling product in recent memory. Sharing the same basic case and design of the Tonda GT (which I went into in detail here), the Tondagraph GT is a steel leisure watch featuring an annual calendar chronograph with 100M water resistance.
Somewhat ironically, the annual calendar chronograph is rarer than the more complicated perpetual calendar. In fact, other than Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, and Richard Mille, it’s hard to think of anyone else producing these. The Tondagraph GT displays the annual calendar functions in orange, with the numerals in the big date window at 12 o’clock and the month aperture that takes up the bottom half of the seconds sub-dial at 3 o’clock standing out. I think this dash of orange adds just the right amount of color to a dial that is otherwise fairly monochromatic.
The design of the Tonda GT and Tondagraph GT were done in collaboration with Dino Modolo, who helped design the original Vacheron Constantin Overseas. I believe the design of the lugs and integrated bracelet was a particular contribution from Modolo and one that I find ultimately successful when judging the final product. Wearing comfort, weight distribution on wrist, and overall finish quality is top-notch here and Parmigiani should pat themselves on the back for a job excellently done.
The case of the Tondagraph GT is 42mm-wide, 13.7mm-thick, and has a lug-to-lug height of just about 46.9mm according to my calipers. The fluted bezel and teardrop lugs are essentially the same as on the Tonda GT, as is the integrated steel bracelet. I have to say that the beautiful curved chronograph pushers look so good on the GT case, and round out the “sportiness” of it more than the simpler Tonda GT does. The flow and contextual design cues of Parmigiani’s watches are fully on display here and I am all about it, personally. One pull of the screw-down crown is for adjusting the date and a second pull adjusts the time.
The in-house PF043 is a new movement that’s finished quite similarly to the Tonda GT’s PF044 with Geneva stripes and an eye-catching 22-ct gold rotor. The PF043 operates at 28,800 vph and has a 48-hour power reserve. It’s made up of 443 components, and I am fairly certain it is the result of adding a module to the existing PF334 movement to achieve the annual calendar function. For a watch like the Tondagraph GT, you are not going to get the robust annual calendar that you would in a piece like the Tonda 1950 Annual Calendar which is also considerably pricier. Cost aside, these more elaborate annual calendars are operated by using inset pushers which are going to compromise the water resistance. Also, you need a tool to operate inset pushers, which is decidedly not casual.
The Tondagraph GT could hugely benefit from a few small changes. As I mentioned with the Tonda GT, I think brands should follow the lead of peers like Vacheron Constantin who market the Overseas to come standard with a bracelet and two straps rather than making the buyer choose. I think this would make the overall product a lot more compelling for this admittedly niche buyer.
Beyond that, I would prefer maybe an extra layer of AR coating since glare can be a bit of an issue, especially with such polished hands and indices. On that note, maybe a future iteration with more satin-finishing on the case and the introduction of matte finishes on the dial? I’d love to see how Parmigiani would execute that.
The Tondagraph GT has a melange of design and signature touches that shines for me in a world sadly overpopulated by overly safe and derivative watches. While the introduction of the integrated bracelet immediately evokes the Royal Oak or Nautilus, I actually think the Tondagraph GT is closer to something like the Rolex Sky-Dweller in attitude if not design. The Parmigiani Tondagraph GT is only available in steel and is limited to just 200 pieces total. It’s available on a rubber strap with a price of $18,500 or on the steel bracelet (which I recommend) for a price of $19,500. You can see more at parmigianiamericas.com