Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

SIHH 2016 – Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire (with the first in-house integrated chronograph of the brand)

| By Brice Goulard | 5 min read |

This year is the 20th anniversary of the very desirable niche brand Parmigiani Fleurier. And they will strike very hard. This highly qualitative manufacture is known for creating superb dress watches with a twist, like the Tonda 1950 (and its superb tourbillon edition) or extremely complicated pieces, like the Tecnica Ombre Blanche or the Toric Resonance 3. However, what we’re about to show you is on another level. You probably know the difficulty to create from scratch a chronograph movement. Well, to celebrate this important year, Parmigiani Fleurier will introduce their first in-house integrated chronograph, manually wound and with a split-seconds… and a movement in solid gold… and a exquisite finish. Here is the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire.

To understand a bit the idea, let us quote (for once) the press release: “An integrated chronograph is the Holy Grail for a watch manufacture, as it is one of the complications requiring the most skill to create on an industrial scale. The chronograph relies on kinematics with a chain of actions, each one determining and triggering the next, and each sequence precisely synchronized and adjusted. Even the tiniest imperfection has a knock-on effect, traveling down the line like a series of dominoes, disrupting the entire movement.” This actually sums up very well the difficulty behind the conception of an integrated chronograph. It might be one of the most known complications around, it remains one of the difficult ones to master. So when a rather small manufacture like Parmigiani Fleurier comes with such a movement, developed, assembled and finished in-house, it tickles our interest (to say the least). And once we read the technical sheet, we’ve been really impressed.

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As being part of the Tonda family, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire relies on the very elegant but also quite original case known in the 1950. If the central part of the case remains highly classical, this cannot be said for the lugs, with concave sides shaped like a water drop, a signature feature that makes this case easily recognizable and desirable. Here, it measures 42.10mm (that could be a tiny bit smaller…) and due to the split-seconds chronograph movement, it has a 14.6mm thickness. It will be available in 4 editions:

  • White gold with silver dial, pink gold main hands and indexes, on brown leather strap
  • White gold with blue dial, pink gold main hands and indexes, on black leather strap
  • Pink gold with silver dial, white gold main hands and indexes, on brown leather strap
  • Pink gold with blue dial, white gold main hands and indexes, on black leather strap

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The dial remains rather classical in its display, with a tri-compax layout and chronograph second hands on the central axis (both the normal and rattrapante hands). Around the dial sits a tachymeter scale and the seconds scale. At 12, we can notice a large date, displayed on 2 separated discs. This complication is directly integrated into the movement, rather than being added to an additional module, on top of the movement. The purpose of this development is to keep the movement as slim as possible (knowing that a split-seconds chronograph movement is usually quite thick). The movement measures here 8.5mm.

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Its quite classical look apart, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire is a pure technical masterpiece. It has been conceived to be fully integrated. No additional module. Each element had to be integrated to the movement and restricted to a single main plate. As said, this is the case for the large date, but it is also true for every single component. This manually wound movement includes a chronograph, a split second function and a large date, all on the same main plate. Here are the main features of the Calibre PF361:

  • A 5 Hertz movement – 36,000 vibrations per hour. The higher the oscillation frequency, the more accurate the chronograph. This is a rather rare feature on watches (only a few chronographs do it, like of course the El Primero from Zenith but also the Blancpain Chronograph Flyback or the De Bethune Maxichrono).
  • 2 column wheels – one to govern the chronograph, the other to drive the split second function. Column wheel makes the activation of the chronograph and the feel of the pusher much smoother.
  • A vertical clutch instead of a horizontal clutch. A vertical clutch is more complicated to achieve but also solves the problem of the initial jolts on certain lower-end chronographs.

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Apart from these highly interesting specifications – you don’t see a fully integrated, split-seconds chronograph with large date and high-beat, brand new and made in-house everyday – this movement is also a pure beauty. First of all, it is made almost entirely in solid gold (like a FP Journe watch). And we know that it ain’t easy to achieve, mainly because gold sticks to the tools, it is malleable and easily deforms and all the milling machines have to be completely recalibrated. Here, all the bridges, including also the mainplate, the main bridge and the rattrapante bridge (the one on the very top of the movement) are made in solid gold. Then, the shape of these bridges is interesting, because widely open (to reveal the technical parts) and showing concentric lines around the balance-wheel… really pleasant. In terms of finishing, it is a feast: many internal angles (achieved by hand), large polished beveled angles on the bridges, a mainplate sandblasted and matte (that contrasts with the shiny chamfers), straight graining on the top of the bridges. The two column-wheels and the rattrapante mechanism are also easily visible. The few steel and brass parts are of course finished with the same attention to details. The result is modern, luxurious and technical. Such a designed movement demonstrates the work done by the watchmakers. It is both intelligently conceived and superb to look at.

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This watch is clearly a watchmaker’s piece: visually simple and elegant, with its classic look, a classic dial and the signature features of the desirable Tonda 1950 collection, it doesn’t show off. However, turn it back and you’ll see the movement. And here, you’ll see the work of pure, inspired and traditional watchmakers. Parmigiani Fleurier celebrates its 20th anniversary with great panache and style. They were already grown-ups, they are now adults. Price to be revealed soon.

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