Road Trip: Traveling To Fleurier In A Porsche 911 Carrera GTS To Meet The Parmigiani Tonda GT
Mastering Parmigiani Fleurier’s aesthetical codes in a contemporary way, the new Tonda GT collection brings the brand to a whole other dimension. So Watchonista took a trip in a 2015 Porsche Carrera GTS to Val-de-Travers, the home of Parmigiani Fleurier, to discover the Tonda GT.
Usually, after waking up, I will undoubtedly arrive at my daily crucible: What watch to wear today? But on this pleasant autumn morning in Switzerland, I knew, with absolute clarity, that I would start the day without anything on my wrist.
Today, I will head Fleurier so I can meet with Parmigiani Fleurier’s CEO, Davide Traxler, who will introduce me to the new Tonda GT collection and provide Watchonista with a piece to test-drive along with my Porsche Carrera GTS.
Parmigiani Fleurier: The Road To Maturity
Since Davide Traxler became Parmigiani Fleurier’s CEO in 2018, the Fleurier-based brand has taken decisive steps to return to its origins. Back in the halcyon days of 2019, Watchonista had witnessed this firsthand more than a few times.
First, while at COUTUREtime 2019, Parmigiani Fleurier's return to its roots was laid bare when I got to discover the Toric collection’s latest models, which reclaimed the first case design created by Michel Parmigiani.
Then, at the end of 2019, Parmigiani Fleurier unveiled the Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar, the world's first perpetual calendar wristwatch using the Muslim or Hijri calendar instead of the customary Gregorian calendar. Innovation Prize winner in this year's GPHG, the Hijri Perpetual Calendar is a breathtaking timepiece that pushes the boundaries of watchmaking.
Now, in 2020, Parmigiani Fleurier continues its odyssey by reinterpreting and updating the iconic Tonda case and moving the Tonda GT and the Tondagraph GT into another league. More than a collection, the Tonda GT line offers a limited number of references in a perfect convergence of range and execution.
Starting at CHF 13,500, the Tonda GT Steel on a rubber strap version features chronograph and annual calendar functions with a large date aperture at 12 o’clock. For this high a level of watchmaking and finishing, the Tonda GT Steel is a unique value proposition.
Meaning “Gran Turismo” in Italian and “Grand Tour” in English, the GT classification was introduced in the 1950s by Ferrari. Since then, it has been used by the entire car industry as a generic term to signal that a car model has a racing, sporty feel but is meant for the open road. Gran Turismo cars are characterized by a fluidity of lines with shapes developed for aerodynamics. By appropriating the GT designation, Parmigiani Fleurier found an apt shorthand to describe the fluidity of the Tonda GT’s design, from the case to the integrated metal bracelet or rubber strap.
Heading To Fleurier with the 2015 Porsche Carrera GTS
In a nod to the Grand Tour, we decided to pair the watch with an iconic GT car for the road trip from Lake Geneva to Fleurier.
The 2015 Porsche Carrera GTS is considered by purists as one of the last true Porsches as new generations of the model feature smaller turbos in order to deliver maximum power. We chose the iconic 911 shape because it perfectly complements the lines of the Parmigiani Fleurier's Tonda GT.
We left Lausanne without a watch on the wrist, so let’s focus first on the 2015 Porsche Carrera GTS. After a few kilometers on winding Swiss country roads, we arrived at the most interesting part of the journey with a climb up the Col des Etroits pass, which winds through Sainte-Croix in a succession of curves and a sweeping hairpin. The temptation was too much, so I let the Porsche’s flat six-engine do the talking and tested the limits and reaction of the car. The 424 BPH is delivered with extreme comfort, even if you end up bracing your foot on the floor when exiting a curve.
The precision of the automatic gearbox is formidable. After having fun with the shifting paddles on the wheel, I quickly let the gearbox loose in one smooth motion, including the downshifts, intervening systematically in the right regime. More than anything else, the one thing you’re most likely to lose while driving a 2015 Porsche Carrera GTS is not your traction, but perhaps your driving license and for a really long time.
First Look at the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda GT
After passing Col des Etroits, we descended the Jura Mountains into the Val-de-Travers District via a scenic road nestled between mountains and rivers. Once Watchonista’s photographer Pierre Vogel and I arrived in Fleurier, I must confess that I was getting very excited to get my hands on this watch.
Graciously hosted by Davide Traxler, we sat down in the elegant salon of the Parmigiani Fleurier's Manufacture to get a tactile experience of the various Tonda GT functions. The stainless-steel integrated bracelet version was a stunner to my eyes, as I had a special place in my heart for the model with a blue dial and rose gold case on a rubber strap. The color of the precious metal color gave definition to the case’s lines, and the continuity of shape on the blue rubber strap is just elegant and well-executed.
The same holds true in regards to the way the traditional “clou triangulaire” guilloche dial finish, the rose gold indices and hands, and the big date aperture harmonize beautifully with the blue dial. Plus, the clean look of the small second sub-dial at 6 o’clock prevents the dial-clutter that would result from the placement of a more formal central seconds hand.
Elevating the classic Tonda case to such a level of refined minimalism yet still subtly retaining Parmigiani codes, the new Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda GT is an impressive expression of the Parmigiani Fleurier style. As Davide Traxler aptly explained to me, “As watch brand, when you touch one of your icons, you need to be absolutely sure you’re bringing it to the next stage and do not damage what was previously working. It’s a risky game, but the enthusiasm of retailers and collectors when presenting it shows us it was a good, strategic move.”
Heading Home with the Tonda GT
Once it was actually on my wrist, I was delightfully surprised to learn that what I first perceived as a delicate integrated design was, in reality, ergonomic perfection. With my tiny wrist, I am always afraid to try a 42mm case, but the shape of the Tonda GT’s case was a perfect fit. It is a true marvel to wear.
So, with the Tonda GT in rose gold and blue rubber strap on my wrist, Pierre and I took our leave to hit the road home. Once on the road, it was clear that the Carrera GTS and Tonda GT shapes are cut from the same cloth with the same bold curves and lines, maintaining the cohesion of both designs. The refinement of the Tonda GT’s execution and finishings echo the cozy but sporty interior of the Porsche Carrera GTS.
At last, with the glowing autumnal light and colors surrounding us, we enjoyed the drive home at a more leisurely pace – all the better to appreciate what I had on the wrist. Once back home, I finished the day with a well-deserved Hoyo de Monterrey Wide Churchill cigar and contemplated what I believe to be a new standard in dress watches.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)