Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire contains two column wheels, a gold movement and a grand feu enamel dial. Angus Davies ponders whether this could be described as one of the finest chronograph to date.

This detailed review of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

I confess that I have a predilection for chronographs which borders on horological fetishism. There are no other complications like the chronograph, save for the minute repeater, where the wearer is literally invited to interact with the movement.

Chronographs are useful gadgets which can be used every day, albeit this timepiece is anything but everyday. From timing the period necessary to boil an egg, to measuring the elapsed period a vehicle covers a known distance, the chronograph is an invaluable tool for daily life.

However, there are chronographs and there are chronographs par excellence. In this instance, the chronograph in question befits the latter description. It is the amazing Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, arguably one of the finest chronographs available today.

But, what makes this timepiece so special? Allow me to elaborate further.

The dial

The would-be wearer can choose between a regal blue dial canvas or a chaste white vista. Personally, as a man of the people with a virtuous soul, I favour the white dial. Both dials feature grand-feu enamel bestowing them with a permanent lustre which will never fade with the passage of time.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The hour and minute hands subscribe to Parmigiani Fleurier’s penchant for ‘Delta-shaped’ hands and are lined with luminescent coating. The hours are denoted with small, applied gold indexes. Each index is exquisitely faceted, charmingly flirting with the light.

At 3 o’clock is a 30-minute chronograph register, while opposite is a 12-hour chronograph register. Positioned in the lower half of the dial is a small seconds display, featuring an unusual twin-tipped seconds hand.

Located adjacent the aforementioned gold indexes is a tachymetre scale, allowing the wearer to ascertain the speed of an object over a mile or kilometre. Residing below noon is a large date display, presenting two digits via two apertures, using two independent date discs. This complication is quite involved, but grants a highly legible means of communicating the prevailing date.

The dial features a chronograph central seconds hand and a split seconds hand, the latter is superimposed over the former and, as a result, appears as one hand until the split seconds hand is called to action. This latter complication, with a simple press of the crown-based push-piece, is used to measure split times e.g. the time taken for the second placed runner to cross the finish line.

The case

Prospective purchasers have a choice of 18-carat rose gold or 18-carat white gold. I prefer the white gold variant as it has a delightfully understated, muted air which I find most becoming.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The case measures 42.10mm in diameter with a case thickness of 14.6mm. All surfaces are highly polished, but somehow the watch never appears gauche, unseemly or needlessly flamboyant. Indeed, rather the contrary, this is a timepiece which wonderfully converses with the world, expressing good taste and displaying impeccable conduct at all times.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

Both the lugs and the pushpieces evince a tear-shaped profile, exquisitely arcing and basking in available light. The curved profile of the lugs transcends the perfunctory and reminds the wearer that this is a no compromise timepiece of the finest order.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

The case-back is equipped with a pane of sapphire crystal granting sight of the hand-wound PF361 movement within. The watch is supplied with a sumptuous Hermès alligator leather strap, paired with a gold pin buckle.

The movement

While some chronograph movements are modular, consisting of a base movement and module, this calibre is fully integrated. From the outset this movement was designed to always be a chronograph and features only one main plate. The benefit of a fully integrated movement with a column wheel is obvious when pressing the pushpieces. They deliver a far superior tactile experience, operating more smoothly. The disadvantage of column wheel chronographs when compared with cam actuated chronographs is that they are much more difficult to make, a fact which is often reflected in a higher asking price.

Image of Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire

This movement does not have one column wheel, but two. One operates the chronograph, while the second drives ‘the split second function in perfect synchronism’.

The PF361 is equipped with a vertical clutch which is more complex to make than a horizontal clutch, but proffers superior accuracy. When a column wheel with horizontal clutch is actuated there is a slight, but noticeable, wobble as the central chronograph seconds hand leaves the starting blocks. With a vertical clutch there is no wobble after actuation, hence the measured time is more accurate.

The frequency of the balance wheel is 36,000 VpH (5Hz) which is greater than most timepieces. By operating at a higher frequency, the precision of the timepiece is augmented. In addition, the balance is not affixed to a single point or ‘cock’, but is held in position with a ‘cross-through bridge’ with points affixing the bridge to the main plate. By securing the balance with a bridge, retained at two attachment points, the balance is less susceptible to shocks and is ‘more stable and robust’.

Parmigiani Fleurier has endeavoured to make a timepiece intended to captivate and subsequently seduce purists. Unlike many movements crafted in German silver or brass, the PF361 is crafted in 18-carat rose gold. Beyond the technical virtues of the PF361 which I have already discussed, this movement is also aesthetically amazing.

Screws feature polished slots with chamfered rims and sit adjacent polished sinks. However, where this movement truly excels is with its open-worked design and magnificent anglage. The exterior angles and rounded angles are beautifully expressed, but it is the seamless 45° bevelled edge of the interior angles which is truly mind-blowing. Owing to the inaccessibility of interior angles, bevels have to be imparted with a series of hand-applied files, each varying in coarseness. Examining the bevels there is a consistency which is truly remarkable. Each bevel between the surface and flank forms a continuous line with the upper and lower edges of the bevel remaining parallel at all times. This elevated degree of finishing is only practised by a select handful of prestigious maisons.

Closing remarks

In 2016, the prestigious Swiss brand unveiled the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire to mark the 20th anniversary of the brand. It is the absolute expression of watchmaking prowess and seems a fitting tribute to a maison which endeavours to pursue excellence with an unrelenting zeal.

Irrespective of where you choose to look on this timepiece you are left with an overwhelming sense of amazement. There are no shortcuts, no signs of expedience or compromise merely perfection.

I adore the fluidity of the case-band, the push-pieces and the lugs and the grand-feu enamel dials are incredible. However, it is the movement which ensnares my heart with its impressive specification, brushed bridge surfaces and sparkling bevels, making this timepiece undoubtedly one of the finest chronographs available today.

Technical specification

  • Model: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Anniversaire
  • Case: 18-carat rose gold; diameter 42.10 mm; height 14.60mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; large date; chronograph; split-second rattrapante.
  • Movement: Calibre PF361, hand-wound movement; frequency 36,000 vph (5 Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve 65 hours; 317 components.
  • Strap: Etruscan Hermès alligator strap presented on an 18-carat rose gold pin buckle.
  • Price: £103,000.00 (RRP as at 27.2.2016)

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