The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, Parmigiani Fleurier’s first Integrated Chronograph, was presented in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of the luxury watch manufacture.
An integrated chronograph 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 synchronised and adjusted. Even the tiniest imperfection has a knock-on effect disrupting the entire movement.
Each element had to be integrated to the movement and restricted to a single main plate. The creators started with a blank sheet and after a careful research and development stage, they drew up and optimized the first integrated chronograph of the Parmigiani manufacture. This manually wound movement includes a chronograph, a split second function and a large date, all on the same main plate.
The PF361 movement encloses many cutting edge developments designed to increase its reliability:-
- A 5 Hertz movement – 36,000 vibrations per hour: The higher the oscillation frequency, the more accurate the chronograph. A frequency of 5 Hertz, very rare for such a calibre, means that the chronograph’s seconds hand makes ten jumps or steps per second, thus enabling a precision to the 10th of second. Its rate is influenced by external factors, such as gravity or impacts, to a lesser degree and the hand moves with a gentle fluidity, unlike the more staccato movements of a chronograph with a lower frequency.
- Column wheels instead of a cam: The movement is organised around a central column wheel which is the nerve centre of the chronograph, the part which synchronises all its elements. This component is more difficult to create and more precious than a simple cam, and lends the movement an elegance that can only come from this level of expertise. The column wheel is also perceptibly smoother when operating. This is referred to as a chronograph’s activation ergonomics. This movement has two column wheels, one to govern the chronograph, the other to drive the split second function in perfect synchronism.
- A vertical clutch instead of a horizontal clutch: The vertical clutch is very difficult to create, but technically more accurate than the horizontal clutch. The action of this device boosts the accuracy of measurements by enabling the chronograph to start up both immediately and without the slightest initial jolt.
- A balance secured by a cross-through bridge instead of a single attachment point, known as the ”cock“: With the double attachment point on the cross-through bridge, the component regulating the movement, the balance, is more stable and robust. Its operation is not disrupted following an impact, a desirable attribute since the chronograph is, above all, a piece of sports equipment. On the other hand, this cross-through bridge has been designed so that its height can be adjusted, to adapt it very precisely to the rest of the movement. The precision of the assembly is thus complete.
Split Second and Large Date
The Split Second: Perfectly integrated into the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire’s PF361 movement, this complication enhances the chronograph with its potential to measure split times. Its 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). However, once the central seconds hand is running, if the additional push-piece for the split second on the crown is activated, the hand comes out of the shadows: 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 to an additional module. The purpose of this development is to keep the movement as slim as possible, 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, behind a double counter with gold appliques.
The Special Anniversary Gold Movement
The launch of this first integrated chronograph coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand. Christened ”Tonda Chronor Anniversaire“, this first model in a long future line comprises a gold movement to highlight its prestige. Every aspect of working with gold during a manufacture process was complicated. Gold sticks to the tools; it is malleable and easily deforms; all the machines must be completely recalibrated and each cutting parameter needs changing.
Successfully manufacturing a movement this complex from gold demonstrates an imposing level of expertise. Its decoration, no less technical, required more than 50 hours of work for each unit. Each movement has bridges which are cut concentrically from the balance, with the latter framed as the epicentre of the fresco. These bridges are openworked to reveal the mechanism which beats at its surface, and the two symmetrical column wheels parallel to the crown’s staff. This assembly is enhanced by the sandblasted satin finish, while the internal angles on the bridges play with the light, accentuated by the gold’s reflections.
Dials and Signature
The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire with gold movement is available with either a white gold or rose gold case, each of which will be produced in a limited run of 25 pieces to mark this anniversary. The dials feature ”grand feu“ enamel in two shades to match the choice of case. The first is white, one of Parmigiani Fleurier’s specialities, with the flawless, luminous texture that only enamel can bestow. 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. Another special design feature, the ardillon buckle takes the shape of Parmigiani Fleurier’s iconic lug. This development celebrates the Anniversary piece with an aesthetical wink to the brand’s origins and will be pursued on many other models to come.
Finally, as a grand exclusivity for this Anniversary model, Michel Parmigiani’s signature is featured on the barrel’s drum and surrounded by a myriad of lug shapes, representative of Parmigiani Fleurier’s watch profile. This signature and the elements surrounding it were not engraved but on the contrary brought out, meaning that the whole surface surrounding them was lowered with a laser, allowing the emblems to stand emphasized. This constellation of symbols is unveiled gradually behind the open-worked gold movement, as the barrel spins gently on its axis.
Model: TONDA CHRONOR ANNIVERSAIRE
PF361 – 18 ct rose gold
Power-reserve: 65 hours
Frequency: 5 Hz – 36’000 A/h
Dimensions: 13 ½’’’ – Ø 30.6 mm
Thickness: 8.5 mm
Decoration: Pierced, drawn hand-bevelled main plates
Small second at 6 o’clock
Chrono 1/10 sec – large second – 12h et 30 min counters
Split second rattrapante function
Shape: 3-part round case
Dimensions: 42.10 mm
Thickness: 14.6 mm
Material: 18 ct white gold/18 ct rose gold
Water-resistance: 30 m
Glass: Anti-reflective sapphire
Crown: Ø 7.2 mm
Back engraving: Individual number “EDITION LIMITEE XX/25“ ”1996-2016“
Colour: Blue or white
Index: 18-ct rose gold/ White gold appliques
Finishing:”Grand feu“ enamel coating
Hands: Delta-shaped with luminescent coating
Colour: Black or Etruscan
Buckle Type: Ardillon