The kind of watch most buyers want these days is elegant enough to show taste and status but sporty enough to suit today’s high-mobility lifestyle. This helps explain the popularity of products like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, which are really dress watches meant to be worn with jeans. Over the past few years, many leading high-end watchmakers, including Swiss Parmigiani, have created compelling products to help meet the large market demand in this space. Timepiece enthusiasts today offer a wide variety of models that fit this mold, and the fun part isn’t getting the “hyped models,” but the more distinctive watches that help identify people’s specific personalities. One such excellent choice is the still very new Parmigiani Tonda GT Chronograph, which comes in several versions, steel and “granata” burgundy red reference PFC906-1020002-400181.
Although it’s not a perfect product, I have to admit that this Tonda GT Chronograph really grew on me when I wore it and I will definitely miss wearing it. Over the years, I think fans have been seeing an interesting aesthetic Parmigiani But not featured in products that make a lot of sense for most people’s activities. Michele Parmigiani has, for years, been making truly stunning showpieces and dress watches that simply don’t match the social wear opportunities presented to many of today’s buyers. All this began to change after Parmigiani appointed Guido Terrani as CEO, who helped take the brand’s superior quality and aesthetics and install them into more practical models. Working with Parmigiani.
Let me clarify something confusing first. Parmigiani currently has two watch models, both called the Tonda GT Chronograph, although they have two different movements. The prices are also not completely different from each other and to make matters more confusing, the dials also look similar at a glance. It’s confusing that the 18k rose gold version of this watch, with the same burgundy dial colors and matching color strap, has a completely different movement: 5Hz frequency Parmigiani caliber PF071 automatic 12-hour chronograph with large date complication and 65-hour power reserve. That, again, is the movement in the 18k rose gold version of this Tonda GT chronograph with granata dial. This steel model has a different movement: the in-house Parmigiani caliber PF043. The movement operates at 4Hz and is an automatic 12-hour chronograph with a large date and annual calendar complication with a 45-hour power reserve. In fact, Parmigiani seems to split the collection right now, with the steel-cased Tonda GT chronograph watches featuring a 4Hz annual calendar chronograph movement and the 18k gold models featuring a 5Hz big date chronograph movement.
You can view the lovingly polished and decorated movement through the sapphire crystal caseback window, along with the 18k gold automatic rotor. The case is 42mm wide overall with a striking, comfortable design and small details that offer depth and personality. For example, we have the famous Parmigiani teardrop lugs (with an angle that matches the Fibonacci curve) and careful pressing on the bezel. Parmigiani really likes classic textures but likes to do them in very small, subtle ways to maintain a more modern overall composition. The result is an occasion with modern proportions but old-world classic and decorative appeal. There is very little like the Tonda GT case on the market. The case is water-resistant to 100 meters and features an AR-coated, domed sapphire crystal (with impressively low glare, I might add) on the dial.
Parmigiani offers Tonda GT chronograph versions on a bracelet, and those pieces are really nice. On the strap, however, the case is lighter and wears a little softer on the wrist, making it ideal for everyday wear around town. The strap helps enhance the overall shape of the case (by helping to visually emphasize it) in a way that you don’t really get from Gerald Genta designs (it looks strange to me when they’re not paired with their matching strap). The attached rubber strap matches the “granata” red of the subdials on the face and is of high quality. The butterfly-style deployant clasp is also high-quality in construction, but comfortable to use. This is because the ends are not the same length as the clasp, and one of the rubber strap catches is designed to go over the strap with a metal deployant, so it prevents the strap from opening up to you. Move it out of the way. Not a big deal, but a minor refinement issue.
Parmigiani has done a great job of giving the Tonda GT chronograph dial a modern look that feels borrowed from a classic watch. That means lots of excellent proportions and textures, as well as great depth. The dial design is indeed very effective and symmetrical even with the integration of a small month indicator window into the running seconds indicator at the 3 o’clock position. Within 12 hours is a large date indicator window. The window discs are black and match the accent color on the applied polished metal hour markers, but it feels like a missed opportunity not to render those discs in the same claret wine-color tone of the subdials that contrast with the silver face.
The biggest problem I have with the Parmigiani Tonda GT Chronograph watch is the skeletonized hands. While it’s true that the dial is mostly readable, in some lights, most of the non-skeleton parts are polished, making the hands invisible. Also, this dial is not luminescent, meaning the black on the tips of the hands and the hour markers are just for style. The lack of luminant on the dial doesn’t really bother me because I love the design. The designers wanted to do that because they feared the hands might obstruct the view of the chronograph subdials (people probably see less than the hour and minute hands). I mean, if Parmigiani had used the same black color for the rest of the hands and not skeletonized them, the dial would probably have been pretty much perfect. I want to know if I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m curious to see if there’s a counter to this argument, as brands obviously make these decisions for commercial reasons, and despite the clarity issues, watches with skeletonized hands sell well.
What the Parmigiani Tonda GT Chronograph does is inject a lot of class into a segment where there are a lot of watches that all seem to be trying to beat each other. While the brand clearly has competitors when envisioning a watch like the Tonda GT Chronograph, Parmigiani is perfectly comfortable with its own look and appeal. I highly recommend this watch for people who like artistic density (as opposed to minimalism) in their luxury goods and, at the same time, never want to be accused of following other leaders. I believe that’s what Parmigiani was going for and for the most part it succeeded. As it improves and changes over time, I fully expect a product like the Tonda GT Chronograph to be an important member of the Parmigiani product family for some time. This reference price is PFC906-1020002-400181 Parmigiani Tonda GT Chronograph. 19,400 Swiss Francs. Find out more on the Parmigiani website here.
> Brand: Parmigiani
>Model: Tonda GT Chronograph (reference PFC906-1020002-400181 as tested)
>price: 19,400 Swiss Francs
>size: 42mm-wide, 13.7mm-thick
>when The reviewer personally wears it: To compliment the case design and wearing comfort. When the colors match my wardrobe. Or when I want to be clear I have high standards but have no interest in being trendy.
>Friend we recommend it first: The lover of the chronograph looks for dials that don’t wear what all his friends wear on a daily basis, sporting size, but looking for an elegant design.
>The best feature of the watch: A beautiful, well-made and comfortable case. Excellent dial. Attractive colors. Attractive full movement.
>The worst feature of the watch: Hands do not need to be skeletonized. Caught on the deployant when opening the strap hold.