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Up Close: Parmigiani Tondagraph GT Chronograph Annual Calendar

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Up Close: Parmigiani Tondagraph GT Chronograph Annual Calendar

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Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by JX Su (SJX).  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/06/parmigiani-tondagraph-gt-steel-review.html

Parmigiani launched its first sports watch last year (and recently followed up with a “panda” dial variant), and it inevitably has an integrated bracelet. The idea is well used, and Parmigiani is pretty late to the game. And lacking a historical sports-watch design, Parmigiani elected to instead transform one of its dress-watch designs into a sports watch.

But against the odds, the Parmigiani sports watch is a successful creation. Finished well inside and out, the Tondagraph GT combines a chronograph, annual calendar, and sensible price.

Initial thoughts

On paper the Tondagraph GT might not seem interesting. It’s yet another integrated-bracelet luxury-sports watch. And powered by a modular movement.

But once in hand, the Tondagraph GT is surprisingly appealing. The case is big but thin, with a bracelet that’s equally slim, which creates a streamlined feel.

Even though the Tondagraph GT adopts design elements from Parmigiani’s formally-styled watches, like the flared lugs and fluted bezel, everything comes together well. The watch looks good on the wrist. That said, the case and bracelet could do with more brushed surfaces.

It is also visually attractive because the quality is good. The dial, for instance, features a precise, stamped guilloche and applied markers.

But the dial design doesn’t quite live up to the quality. It includes too many unnecessary elements, including orange accents and black Super-Luminova, and a logo that’s one size too large.

Inside is a movement that’s as high quality as a modular movement can be. In fact, the PF043 movement inside is essentially the same calibre found in the Richard Mille RM 11. While the RM 11 has a far more modern appearance, the PF043 is finished traditionally, and finished well.

The movement combines a chronograph and an annual calendar, which makes the Tondagraph GT a value buy at its approximately US$20,000 retail price.

Its most obvious competition is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT, which is slimmer and has an integrated movement. Both watches are are priced similarly, but the Tondagraph GT is finished to a higher standard, and its annual calendar is arguably more useful than a second time zone, which gives the Parmigiani a slight edge.

Tonda

Italian for “round”, tonda is the name of Parmigiani’s collection of round watches that are available in a variety of styles and complications. The Tonda GT (and by extension the Tondagraph GT), however, is the range of sports watch.

The sports watch takes the lines of the Tonda dress watch, but transforms it into something more athletic. The style is a bit more aggressive, but remains elegant.

Two details worth noticing are the bezel and lugs. Both are taken from Parmigiani’s dress watches, but blend in well here. One are arched lugs found on the Tonda, but made wider and shorter, while also incorporating the chronograph pushers that take the same shape.

The knurled bezel comes from the old-school, Breguet-inspired Toric case, which has a double-row of knurling pressed by hand. Here the single row of knurling is similarly done by hand – by pressing a metal wheel against the bezel – and an appealing but discreet bit of decor on a sport watches.

The Tondagraph GT is wide but thin at 42 mm by 13.7 mm, which gives it sleek proportions. At the same time, the case not too thin. With a diameter this large, an extremely thin case would create a biscuit-like feel.

The downward curve of the lugs give the watch a good fit on the wrist. They are also set wide apart on the wrist, which leaves the watch feeling a bit like a bracelet that sits snug on the wrist. Also, the links are wide but short, resulting in a softer feel.

Two aspects on the exterior could do with some tweaks. One is the double-fold clasp. It’s functional and secure, but thick relative to the bracelet. And the other is the case finish, which is done well but has too many polished surfaces. A predominance of brushed surfaces with polished accents would look better.

Dial details

Like the bezel with its knurling, the dial is lightly decorated – enough to make it interesting but not too fussy for a sports watch. And needless to say, it is well executed in typical Parmigiani fashion. The brand is essentially vertically integrated – its sister companies specialise in dials, hands, cases, and bracelets – which surely helps with quality of components.

The dial is finished with guilloche Clou triangulaire, which resembles hobnail engine turning but is actually made up of tiny, three-sided pyramids instead of the four-sided structures that characterise hobnail. Slightly glossy, the guilloche gives the dial a noticeable but restrained texturing that goes well with the lance-shaped hands.

Legibility is also good, with a few caveats. The time is easy to read, as is the extra large date. In contrast, the month indicator is tiny, but not especially important so it’s not a functional flaw.

Unusually, both the hands and hour markers are filled with black Super-Luminova, which glows in the dark but in a dull hue. At the same time, the luminous tips of the hands are tiny. As a result, nighttime readability is so so at best. Conventional “lume” would have been more useful, and also more attractive visually for me.

The use of black lume for aesthetic reasons illustrates one of the shortcomings of the dial – the design does too much.

The black lume is unnecessary and not very useful in form or function, and the same goes for the orange accents on the dial. Highlighting the calendar displays in orange – while broadcasting “ANNUAL CALENDAR” in the same colour – is similarly unnecessary.

The Parmigiani logo under 12 o’clock could also do with being scaled down. Though the date is oversized, it feels small in comparison to the brand logo just above.

Another element that might work better with a redesign is the sloping flange around the dial that intersects with the minute track. While it provides depth to the dial, it breaks up the design and feels out of place. In fact, because its concentric fluting is perpendicular to the knurling on the bezel, the effect is jarring once you notice it.

But despite the nitpicks about the design, the dial quality is excellent, especially for a complicated watch at this price. The guilloche is especially well done.

Vaucher

Within the Tondagraph GT is the PF043, a modular construction comprising a Vaucher cal. VMF 3002 along with a module on top for the chronograph and annual calendar.

Though the combination of the two complications is fairly uncommon, the module has been around for a long time. It’s found in a diversity of watches, including Maurice Lacroix (which installed it on an ETA 2892 base) and Richard Mille, which has a movement nearly identical to the PF043 in the RM 11.

While modular movements are not considered as sophisticated as their integrated counterparts, the PF043 is a high quality movement. Even though the under-dial mechanics are hidden, Parmigiani has a well-deserved reputation for good movements, and this will not doubt live up to that.

Despite being fairly entry-level as luxury-sports watches go, the movement has been dressed up well. The rotor is 22k red gold and decorated with brushed top surfaces and frosted recesses.

All movement parts are attractively finished in the industrial-decoration manner that typical of high-end movements produced on a large scale. The quality of decoration is similar to found on movements in entry-level Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin watches.

Some details, however, stand out for being done better. While the narrower bevels on the inner edges still retain the machining marks from the milling process, the wider bevels on the outer edges are mirror finished, which means they were given a polish by hand after milling.

The movement bridges are finished in the usual Parmigiani style, with the key element being the radial striping emanating outwards from the balance cock

Concluding thoughts

The Tondagraph GT is a surprisingly appealing and original design, despite being a round watch. That, and the quality of fit and finish, contribute to its appeal.

A couple of elements could, and should, be improved, like the dial design, but overall the Tondagraph GT is an excellent watch at its price.


Key facts and price

Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT
Ref. PFC906

Case diameter: 42 mm
Height: 13.7 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire, sapphire case back
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: PF043
Features: Time, chronograph, and annual calendar with big date
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 45 hours

Strap: Black rubber or steel integrated bracelet

Limited edition: 200
Availability: From Parmigiani and select boutiques worldwide
Price: Steel on rubber – US$18,500; steel on bracelet – US$$19,500

For more, visit parmigiani.com


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Source Credit:  Content and images from SJX Watches by JX Su (SJX).  Read the original article - https://watchesbysjx.com/2021/06/parmigiani-tondagraph-gt-steel-review.html

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