Not only is the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor an impressive horological achievement; but it looks pretty good too.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor is the first integrated chronograph from the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture and with it they have included arguably one of the more complicated functions, the Rattrapante (split seconds).
As always with the brand, it uses a fully independent manufacture, in order to remain constant in the quest for excellence, which has been the driving force of Michel Parmigiani’s ambitions since the 1970’s.
Parmigiani Fleurier explain a little more behind the Tonda Chronograph, which is added to the fairly diverse selection already available within the Tonda range of high complications:
The Tonda Chronor Slate, a watch with a dial in rich slate grey. This timepiece is uniquely symbolic of the expertise of the Watchmaking Centre. All of its components, excluding the strap and sapphire crystal, have been produced by the different manufactures (Atokalpa, Elwin, Les Artisans Boîtiers, Quadrance & Habillage, and Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier). As is the norm at Parmigiani Fleurier, this watch is 100% Swiss Made.
Face & case
The rose gold case is 42.1mm in diameter, with a narrow, knurled bezel surrounding the slate grey face, which sits under the sapphire crystal. I should also note that although not reviewed specifically here, the Tonda Chronor Slate is also available in white gold.
The edge of the dial is very busy with multiple scales of time fractions visible; each scale is shown against a thin line circling the circumference of the dial. Moving in towards the centre, a pulsometer scale is closest to the bezel. Within this scale, 12 rose gold hour markers are easily defined and sit proud of the dial. Next is the tachymeter scale and just inside that, minute markers can be seen in 5 minute intervals, with 15 and 45 missing, to allow room for the chronograph sub dials.
Chronograph functions are generally the same across the board, however look closely and there are a few differences here vs “standard” chronograph dials. The minute and hour sub dials are recessed below the main dial height and are set slightly above the axis of the crown. The third sub dial shows seconds at 6 o’clock and is actually only a 180 degree upward semi circle, with two time scales shown. A rose gold hand, which is elongated on both sides, with one end slightly longer than the other is used to read the seconds. As the hand finishes going from 0 – 30 shown on one scale, look at the other end of the hand which is longer and takes over from 30 – 60.
At 12 o’clock, there is a big date window which is framed in rose gold, with the brand PARMIGIANI FLEURIER fitting perfectly in the space below.
The minute and hour hands are spear shaped and have rose gold edges. Sitting above them all, the seconds and split-seconds hands are considerably thinner, but finished in different colours for improved legibility.
Looking at the sides of the watch, the lugs are longer than usual. This appears to be due to aesthetics, as the chronograph pushers are tear shaped – the elongated lugs frame and accentuate the shape. This actually aids for comfort when worn, as it follows the contour of the wrist well too.
The crown is two tier and large, both in width and length, which is great for winding and changing of time. The Parmigiani Fleurier logo can be clearly seen embossed on the end of the crown.
Turn the piece over and you are in for a surprise, as looking through the sapphire back, the skeletonised plates are hand shaped beautifully across 2 levels, also manufactured with rose gold. The brand’s logo is engraved at 12 o’clock. There are contrasting fixing screws visible, as well as the majority of the movement (or at least parts of each element) can be seen working away inside.
The case back is screw down, with various engravings on the frame, such as the model number, limited edition number and gold hallmarks.
Manufactured in house, the PF361 is a solid gold, hand-wound movement, with chronograph, split-seconds, fly-back and large date functions.
Running at a frequency of 5 Hertz, or 36,000 vibrations per hour, this guarantees greater chronograph accuracy (to 1/10th of a second).
The movement features two column wheels (one of which drives the split-seconds function), a vertical clutch and a balance held in place by a cross-through bridge.
A matt (Havana) brown Hermès alligator leather strap is secured by an 18ct rose gold, traditional pin buckle. The Parmigiani Fleurier logo is tastefully engraved in the centre.
The white gold version is fitted with a black alligator strap, with matching white gold buckle.
Parmigiani Fleurier was officially launched in 1996, almost 20 years after it’s founder Michel Parmigiani, a timepiece restorer, opened his traditional watch workshop in Couvet. During the day, he continued to restore antique pieces, but in his spare time, he imagined complex horological masterpieces. Even to this day, he still gets involved in the creation of each and every watch.
The Parmigiani Fleurier watchmaking centre was born in 2000, which meant the brand could become a fully independent, vertical manufacture of luxury Haute Horlogerie. Renamed Les Artisans Boîtiers, the company is a hub of expert craftsmanship, using cutting-edge technology to manufacture the most complex watch cases.
Over the years, Parmigiani acquired a number of other businesses which enabled more and more things to be build in house. Atokalpa, which specialised in the manufacture of trains, pinion and micro-gears, meant it’s expertise allowed the possibility of the manufacture of the balance and its balance-spring, the pallet fork and the escapement wheel using industrial methods, having uncovered the exclusive secrets of their production.
Elwin was the next acquisition, which added strategic watch components. Elwin is a precision bar turning specialist, providing all of the hardware for a mechanical movement – screws, pinions, balance staffs and wheels etc.
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier was formed in January 2003, becoming the Parmigiani Fleurier watchmaking centre’s engineering division. It specialises in the manufacture of high-end watch movements in the “prestige” segment, capable of creating a number of prestigious calibres.
Quadrance et Habillage specialises in the manufacture of high-end dials – guilloché, épargnage, galvanoplasty, transfers and delicate engraving are just some of the many processes that Quadrance et Habillage employs every day to give the dial its individuality.
Parmigiani Fleurier has also forged long standing relationships with other luxury brands, Bugatti and Hermes are 2 which stand out specifically.
There is no arguing that the Tonda Chronor is a good looking watch and I want one.
Whether it’s the rose gold or white gold version, I am struggling to think of another chronograph with such a wow factor – the fact the movement is solid gold and the amount of detail that has gone into the design and manufacture is apparent whichever way I look at it.
Considering the amount of gold in it, I would have expected the watch to feel a bit heavier, but it is well balanced and the extended lugs seem to make the fit more secure on the wrist.
It doesn’t look it, but at 14.7mm thick, the Tonda Chronor is quite chunky and you may find it catching on your cuff – I doubt you will mind “accidentally” showing one of these off though!
With a price tag of 135,000 CHF and with only 25 pieces available in each case type, this piece could be classed as a sports watch, however there will probably not be many who use the chronograph function for it’s purpose (unless it’s doing a time trial for something random, like going to the toilet and back).
The majority of owners of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Chronor Slate will likely show it off for the same reason the brand exists though – luxury Haute Horlogerie.