Swiss Parmigiani easily impressed the aBlogtoWatch team at SIHH 2016 when they passively debuted before our eyes their brand new in-house-made and totally integrated split-seconds chronograph movement known as the caliber PF361. Announced on the date of the brand’s 20th anniversary after being launched in 1996, featuring the personality of watchmaker Michel Parmigiani, the new-for-2016 Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire watch is a wonderful offering that will inspire interest even in those who haven’t previously taken the time to acquaint themselves with the brand.

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Producing an in-house-made integrated chronograph is a distinct challenge. Until now, Parmigiani chronograph watches (even when in-house-made) used a module system that puts a chronograph functionality module on a base movement. With the PF361, Parmigiani has a single movement system, that includes the chronograph and other components such as the regulation system and gear train in a single mechanism.

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On top of that, the movement is also a split-seconds (rattrapante) chronograph. This gives the user an additional 60-second timing opportunity while the main chronograph continues running. Producing a split-seconds chronograph requires a lot of very specialized watchmaker attention and, according to many, is more difficult to assemble that a perpetual calendar. The chronograph uses column wheels as well as a vertical (versus horizontal) clutch system.

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Produced from 317 parts, the beautiful movement is meant to be mostly skeletonized, offering an extremely rich view into its architecture from the rear of the watch. The movement is an ample 30.6mm wide and quite thick, at 8.5mm. This extra size is a trade-off, for sure, given that a watch with the movement will be inherently thick, but with that said, the user is rewarded with brilliant features and aesthetic design.

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With a power reserve of 65 hours, the PF361 operates at 5Hz! Yes, this 36,000bph movement is a “high-beat” offering superior chronograph precision and accuracy over time. Not that you need to spend this much on a 5Hz movement (the Zenith El Primero is going to be your best “budget” option for that), but you rarely see such a dedication to performance in movements at this price level.

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Just knowing that the first versions of the PF361 movement will use all 18k gold bridges probably alludes to the watch’s over-$100,000 price. With that said, given all that you receive in the Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, it is actually an impressive value (relatively speaking, that is). In addition to the time, 5Hz operation, and integrated split-seconds chronograph, the movement also has a big date indicator. This 20th anniversary model set will have a manually-wound movement, but Parmigiani has confirmed that next year in 2017, an automatic (self-winding) version of the PF361 movement will be debuted.

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I think this beautiful new movement is set to add a new level of prestige to the Parmigiani brand which has yet to have something ultra compelling for more conservative/traditional watch collectors used to spending something in the $100,000 price category. I think that the 50 pieces Parmigiani will produce for this limited edition anniversary set will be appreciated quite quickly.

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The Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire watch itself is a well-conceived evolution on the Tonda collection which also needed a bit of a design boost for some watch collectors. The combination of size with unique design elements makes this one of the best Tonda cases I’ve put on my wrist. The new more ample proportions (which aren’t “massive,” either) lend themselves well the curvy style of the case designs.

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Offered in either 18k white or 18k rose gold, the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire case is 42.1mm wide and 14.6mm thick. The large “tear drop”-shaped lugs are particularly cool and a new design element carries this same visual feature onto the strap buckle. I also want to point out how nicely the lugs angle in which gives the entire case a sort of cool tonneau-shaped look which seems to add extra masculinity to the design.

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For the Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire dials, Parmigiani goes pretty classic with a grand feu enamel white dial or a deep “royal blue” dial – both of which look handsome, if not very classic given what we normally see from the brand. The Tonda-style hands are coated with lume and appear to be taken from a sport watch (good idea because legibility is excellent). The rest of the dial is all about giving a mostly traditional look – as though Parmigiani were doing their best A. Lange & Söhne impressions (which, mind you, isn’t a bad thing).

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Finally, you see classiness mixed with “movement porn” and a bit of that avant-garde style which makes the aesthetic design of Parmigiani timepieces unique – all in one well-refined product collection. This makes the 2016 limited edition Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire watch collection quite a success in our humble opinions. Each of the four versions of the Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire watch (each of the two dial options, in either 18k white or rose gold case) is limited to 25 pieces with a price of $135,000.

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