A Watch for All Seasons
Parmigiani Fleurier adds a sporty edge to its elegant Tonda collection as it introduces the Tonda GT family.
For more than 20 years, savvy collectors have revered the Swiss manufacture for its classic dress watches and high complications. Today, the Fleurier-based brand — led by master watchmaker Michel Parmigiani — is poised to broaden its appeal with the Tonda GT, a versatile collection that delivers panache and practicality in equal measures.
Scheduled to arrive at retailers this summer, the Tonda GT collection debuts with two dapper models created in collaboration with watch designer Dino Modolo. The result is a familiar but fresh take on Parmigiani’s distinctive aesthetic codes that blends elements from two of the brand’s most recognizable watches.
Most noticeably, the Tonda GT has a fluted bezel that echoes the Toric collection, which was the first collection that Parmigiani released in 1996. More subtly, the case shape finds inspiration in the Tonda Chronor, a watch that recently won the Chronograph Watch Prize from the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. As a finishing touch, the brand crafted an integrated bracelet especially for the new collection. Its linear design expresses quiet confidence to the outside world while its ergonomic feel delivers a comfortable experience for the wearer.
A NEW CHAPTER
The first model is the Tondagraph GT. Its 42mm stainless-steel case juxtaposes polished and satin finishes for a look that’s engaging but not distracting. This balanced backdrop allows the dial’s sophisticated “clou triangulaire” guilloché decoration to take centerstage.
In a first for Parmigiani, the Tondagraph GT’s new automatic-winding caliber — developed and produced in-house — combines a chronograph with an annual calendar. This exceptionally useful pairing is perfectly suited for an everyday watch. Available on either a steel bracelet or a rubber strap, this model will be produced in a limited series of 200 pieces.
The other new model making its debut this year is the Tonda GT, which shares the same case and dial as the Tondagraph GT. Instead of a chronograph and annual calendar, however, it opts for a more restrained mechanical approach with an automatic movement (also made in-house) that boasts a big date and a small seconds. For the latter complication, Parmigiani employs a non-traditional design that uses a double-sided hand to indicate the seconds on a semi-circular scale. Like its cousin, the Tonda GT is available with a black dial in a stainless-steel case with either a matching bracelet or a rubber strap. Production is limited to 250 pieces.
Finally, Parmigiani will release an elegant rose-gold version of the Tonda GT with a handsome blue dial. Available on a rubber strap or rose-gold bracelet, Parmigiani will limit production to 150 pieces.
Shortly after the Tonda GT family was introduced in July, Cellini interviewed Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Davide Traxler about the new collection. Here’s what he had to say.
You’ve described the new pieces as everyday watches rather than sports watches. That’s an interesting distinction. Can you explain what you mean by that?
“I believe that our Tonda GT is a very sophisticated and elegant timepiece adapted to the new urban lifestyle where formal attire has been replaced by a more casual approach to workplace and leisure dress codes,” Traxler said.
With so many brands embracing the sports watch trend, did Parmigiani consciously avoid making a “traditional” sports watch, meaning a steel-bracelet watch that features a chronograph or a GMT?
“The idea was simple: I wanted to offer the most popular complication — the chrono — with the most-practical one — the yearly calendar with a big date.”
In terms of the design, why did the brand decide to work with an outside designer, Dino Modolo? And, is this the first time the brand has worked with an outside designer?
“This is not the first time. As many know, Parmigiani Fleurier is part of a watch hub that produces parts for many colleagues in the industry, and we strive for openness about that. I have known Dino Modolo for many years, and he has always worked as an external designer in cooperation, not competition, with our internal teams. The result, in the case of the Tonda GT collection, is an excellent example of teamwork.”
What’s the biggest difference between developing a design internally and collaborating with an outside designer?
“I believe that the challenge is to maintain both team’s motivation toward a single objective while building a strong spirit of cooperation that values new and different points of view. Our teams worked well together and, I think, the final design reflects that.”
What do you personally like most about the new design?
“The style of GT collection. It’s obviously Parmigiani, but it explores a new territory for the brand that expresses a truly innovative approach to urban elegance.”
Including an annual calendar in the Tondagraph GT is an unexpected but a welcome choice. This pairing is a first for the brand. How did that combination come about?
“It’s a combination that matches leisure and function to meet the needs of consumers who pass from a golf course to a boardroom.”
When a new bracelet watch is introduced, collectors tend to focus — oftentimes to the point of distraction — on the bracelet design. Fairly or unfairly, that one aspect can color the perception of an entire collection, especially in the age of social media. How much of a concern was that going into this project?
“None at all. The bracelet is comfortable, incredibly well-finished and unique in its style. I believe it is a real success both in steel and in gold.”
More broadly, how does Parmigiani navigate product development in an era where there is a kind of instant global judgment made on Instagram on the day a collection is announced?
“Well, I believe that sharing our projects with our retailers in the development phase is key to understanding the market feedback. We must keep in mind that the multi-brand retailer is by far the most experienced touchpoint to understand the market. That close relationship with retailers is key to all developments.”
All the new pieces are limited editions. Are there plans to continue the collection beyond these initial offerings?
“We are working on new complications, new versions, and materials. The GT is a long-term project for the brand.”
Click here to view the Parmigiani Fleurier collection online at Cellini Jewelers.