Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire – An unparalleled piece
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire – An unparalleled piece
The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire from Parmigiani Fleurier is unparalleled. This split-seconds chronograph with large date is fitted with the exclusive calibre PF361 made from gold and features a remarkably legible Grand Feu enamel dial.
At the heart of this watchmaking masterpiece is an absolutely unique, 100% Swiss-made chronograph movement, developed, produced and assembled by the Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture. This new, exceptional addition to the Parmigiani Fleurier collections is the most accomplished expression of the brand's extensive expertise in both technology and aesthetics.
All renowned watchmakers share the desire to design, develop and produce an integrated chronograph movement. But only very few of them have successfully completed this extremely demanding exercise and managed to offer the piece in their collections. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, Michel Parmigiani – its lifeblood and the man behind its name – wanted to go further still; in addition to the chronograph function, the master watchmaker wanted to add a major complication, one that turns a chronograph into an exceptional piece worthy of superior Haute Horlogerie status: the split-second. And since a date indicator is an indispensable part of a contemporary timepiece, the brand's creator chose to make it as legible, harmonious and as true to the spirit of watchmaking as possible by giving it a large date in two windows – a complex feat. Last but not least, Michel Parmigiani and the manufacture's watch designers deemed that the heart of the movement should oscillate at a high frequency, for reasons of both reliability and legibility. They therefore chose a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, or 5 Hertz. Yet again, only very few mechanical chronographs currently on the market oscillate at this rate. And since this piece was to celebrate an anniversary, the master watchmaker made another challenging choice: the movement would not be made from brass or nickel silver, but from gold. All of these characteristics are exceptional in their own right but, when brought together, they make this integrated chronograph movement with split-second – the calibre PF361 – and the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire model that it powers simply exceptional.
For Michel Parmigiani, the calibre PF361 is not simply the result of several years of development, but a key stage in the life of a watchmaker and of 20 years of developing the brand and the manufacture: "Since the very start of our watchmaking adventure, the idea of creating an integrated Chronograph has always been close to my heart. This dream became a reality on the eve of our 20th anniversary, and this is no coincidence – it is a reflection of our development as a manufacture. To successfully create an integrated chronograph, one must first master its imposing, meticulous assembly of constituent parts; not just their manufacture, but also their operation and function at the heart of a calibre; one must appreciate both their potential and their limits. This is why an integrated chronograph is a feat only an experienced manufacture can achieve. The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire is a reflection of 20 years of work."
The hallmarks of an integrated manufacture
It took twenty years of development – and more than double that for Michel Parmigiani as a master watchmaker – for the brand to finally be in a position to create the top-flight Calibre PF361. Formed of 317 components, this integrated chronograph movement is distinguished – in addition to its technical features – by the fact that almost all of its components were produced in-house by the Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture. That number includes the components of the regulating organ, the strategic heart of the watch – an exceptional feat, even for renowned Haute Horlogerie brands. This collection of minuscule components, which are extremely complicated to produce and make reliable, is symbolic of the brand's independence and therefore its ability to innovate and create.
Innovation and creation are indissociable from independence and expert knowledge of all the production procedures. When a manufacture masters every single component, it becomes fully aware of all of their requirements, constraints and opportunities. In addition to the design and production advantages, by having complete control of the creative chain in-house, the manufacture can ensure that its products will endure and guarantee that they can always be serviced and repaired, regardless of their age and without the need to reproduce a rare component. In this sense, complete independence and its associated advantages are one of the hallmarks of Parmigiani Fleurier, and one that is essential to understanding the brand.
Produced completely in-house, the Calibre PF361 is not just distinguished by its technical virtues and specific features (mentioned in detail below); it is also set apart by its aesthetics. Featuring an open-worked structure that reveals the calibre's depth and aids visual appreciation of the object and its complexity, this chronograph movement was designed to be both reliable and aesthetically harmonious. To this end, a great number of internal angles were incorporated to add to the beauty of this movement. However, these internal angles must be bevelled and polished by hand as no machine is capable of creating them while keeping some angles tight and unrounded. This explains why internal angles are so scarce and are absent from many lesser-quality watch movements. The Calibre PF361 nonetheless incorporates many of them – almost 50! Along with the "angel wing" bridges, these contribute to the intrinsic beauty of this integrated chronograph movement.
But to understand the quality of a finely crafted watch movement, the attention to detail and excellence seen in the finishes and decoration must also be taken into consideration. In addition to the chamfering and polishing performed by hand, like all Parmigiani Fleurier movements, all of the components of the Calibre PF361 are decorated: drawn out by hand on the visible surfaces, sand-blasted on the sides that no one will ever see – except for the watchmaker during a service or repair – the bridges, wheels, yokes and other minuscule components receive tremendous attention. This is also the hallmark of an Haute Horlogerie piece.
Rare characteristics for an extraordinary chronograph
The specifications were based on one simple basic instruction: no additional modules – a step sure to please connoisseurs. Every single component had to be integrated into the movement and held on a single plate. The designers therefore started with a blank slate and, after a great deal of research, they developed the Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture's first integrated chronograph. This development process took over two years and was backed by the brand's 20 years of experience and expertise, ensuring perfect mastery of the industrial tools required to develop this kind of product. This hand-wound movement therefore has a chronograph, a split-second function and a large date all on the same main plate.
The PF361 movement, with its 65-hour power reserve, incorporates several specific developments to increase its reliability, make it unique and showcase the pinnacle of watchmaking skill.
The split-second function
Perfectly integrated into the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire's PF361 movement, the split-second function enhances the chronograph with its potential to measure split times. The principle rests on an additional hand known as the "split-second hand" which sits on top of the central chronograph seconds hand, or "trotteuse", and is permanently linked to it (when started, stopped and reset). But once the central seconds hand is running, if the additional push-piece for the split-second on the crown is activated, the hidden hand is revealed: it stops, while the central seconds hand continues to run. After reading this split time, pressing the push-piece on the crown again will bring the split-second hand back in line with the central seconds hand, to continue running alongside it. This manoeuvre can be repeated as many times as is necessary. The split-second hand is driven by the movement's second column wheel, using a mechanism which indexes it to the chronograph's central seconds hand and releases it for the split timing measurements. This complication requires a second kinematic chain, in addition to that of the chronograph, which presents a major challenge for adjustment.
The large date
Lastly, this movement comprises a Large Date which is also integrated into the movement, rather than added as an additional module. The purpose of this development is to increase the appeal, whilst retaining technical reliability. Managing to insert a large date into a calibre with an integrated chronograph is a logistical challenge, considering the spatial constraints involved. The creators of the watch therefore maximised the usable surface to create the perfect space to house the 13 mm discs. The large date appears at 12 o'clock in a double window with gold appliques.
The grand feu enamel dial
The Grand Feu enamel dial showcases the Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture's other skills and achievements. The pinnacle of the watchmaking art in the eyes of some connoisseurs, enamel dials are extremely rare. Parmigiani Fleurier's dials, and particularly the dial on the Tonda Chronor, are even rarer still as they are enhanced with solid gold applique indices. This means that the appliques are affixed to the dial by feet that pass through the enamel and are fixed on the underside. Milling and piercing an already enamelled dial is an understandably risky process, and it is therefore vital to have several pieces produced to obtain a perfect finished dial.
Grand Feu enamelling is the most difficult and delicate decorative technique, but it also makes it possible to produce a decoration that will endure over time. The enameller applies several layers of oxides to the dial. In this particular instance, the indications (logo, chronometer, seconds, tachymeter, etc.) are quite literally imprisoned in these successive layers, which become vitrified after being fired at around 800 to 900°C. These successive firings gradually reveal the motif and colours.
This Grand Feu enamel dial is available in a choice of two colours. The first is white, which presents a smooth texture – with no dimpling – and a luminous appearance thanks to the enamel. The second is a deep blue which changes with the angle, turning a dark purple in some lights. This colour, called "Bleu Roi" (royal blue) is a new addition to Parmigiani Fleurier's very rich palette of colours, and has been specially developed for the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire.
With its off-centred counters, the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire provides optimum legibility of the chronograph indications, the minute track and the tachymeter scale. The sector seconds at 6 o'clock is a signature feature of Parmigiani Fleurier's chronographs.
Gold case and Hermès alligator leather strap
The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire with gold movement is available with either a white gold or rose gold case, each of which will be produced as a limited edition of 25 pieces with a white or royal blue Grand Feu enamel dial. Polished by hand and featuring welded lugs, the cases are engraved with the words "Edition limitée XX/25" on the back.
Measuring 42.1 mm in diameter, the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire is perfectly moulded to its wearer's wrist. Michel Parmigiani's keen attention to ergonomics is once again highlighted in this exceptional timepiece. The two drop-shaped push-pieces – which match the lugs into which they are completely incorporated – give rise to a simplified chronograph start/stop system. They also continue the carefully considered and precisely applied aesthetics, mirroring the marvellous mechanism contained within. This was only possible because the watch's aesthetic design and mechanism were developed alongside one another by the Parmigiani Manufacture teams.
In one final specific stylistic feature, the ardillon buckle adopts the shape of Parmigiani Fleurier's iconic lug. This stylistic development celebrates the Anniversaire piece with a nod to its roots – one which will be incorporated into other future models. Lastly, like all Parmigiani Fleurier's gold models, the Etruscan or black alligator leather straps of the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire are produced by Hermès.
Tonda Chronor Anniversaire by Parmigiani Fleurier. If there had to be only one.