Taking its name from its founder, watchmaker and restorer Michel Parmigiani, the fine watchmaking brand was founded in 1996 in Fleurier, in the Swiss valley of Val-de-Travers. With its own watchmaking centre ensuring its independence, the brand has both full control over the production process and unique creative freedom.
Parmigiani Fleurier and the Watchmaking Centre
There is something magical about the manufacture of time. Producing the inanimate components and assembling them to create perpetual movement is like breathing life into inert material; it is the creation of a pulse that will never stop beating.
Since 1996, the Sandoz Family Foundation has been developing a Watchmaking Centre based around the Parmigiani Fleurier brand. This comprehensive centre for industrial craftsmanship encompasses all the areas of expertise required to create a timepiece, producing everything from the balance-spring and the train wheel to the case and dial; each link is brought together to form a verticalised, independent manufacture, fostering unbridled creativity and guaranteeing optimal quality.
The five business divisions which form the manufacture are first and foremost dedicated to their sister brand, Parmigiani Fleurier, but also make their skills and products available to selected high-end watchmakers. In the spirit of innovation, flawless production quality and the respect of Swiss industrial tradition, each of these divisions breathes new life into the watchmaking expertise.
The Parmigiani Fleurier Brand
Parmigiani Fleurier, which takes its name from its founder, Michel Parmigiani, was established in 1996 in the Val de Travers, the birthplace of the watchmaking art. It draws on a tradition of watchmaking built on technical and artisanal expertise, and on an absolute commitment to quality. Thanks to the watchmaking centre created around the brand by the Sandoz Family Foundation, it has acquired a unique credibility in just a few years.
A rare trait amongst today’s watchmaking brands, Parmigiani Fleurier comes from a long line of experts in antique timepiece restoration. Practising this art requires expertise, patience and respect, and Parmigiani is deeply rooted in watchmaking history, where a watch is considered a jewel, and as much a work of art as a timekeeping device. Parmigiani Fleurier designs, manufactures, decorates and assembles all the components of its timepieces, guided by its capacity for innovation and its mastery of each stage of the production process.
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Quadrance & Habillage
In December 2005, Quadrance et Habillage was founded and incorporated into the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre in order to achieve self-sufficiency in production and enhance the hub’s essential creativity. The dials are the faces of a watch, and an expression of the brand. Neutral or smiling, Roman or Arabic, eye-catching or understated, there is no end to the possibilities, but perfection is always essential.
The luxury watch dial is a true work of art. Its base, machined by a numerically controlled machine at the Quadrance site, can be left plain or feature guilloché work. This is followed by the surface treatment operations and the colouring process, after which the entire assembly is protected by colourless or tinted varnish. Finally, the master dial-maker transfers the indications and applies the appliqués. Step by step, he creates a tailor-made design for each piece and adorns it with finishes of an exceptional quality.
Rue A.-M.- Piaget 26
CH-2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds
Les Artisans Boîtiers
When it was acquired by the Sandoz Family Foundation in May 2000, the company, located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, was already the hub of the most prestigious expertise in high-end watch case manufacture. Since it was incorporated into the Watchmaking Centre, Les Artisans Boîtiers SA has been able to use the skills of its master craftsmen, acquired over many years, and its cutting-edge production technology to benefit the Parmigiani Fleurier brand and all of their customers.
Through this partnership, the company is now able to manufacture cases of any complexity, material or shape, no matter how original. The most imaginative creations can now take form within these walls, where the entire production process is expertly handled.
Each watch case starts its journey in the design office, where it is developed using 3D software (CAD), then machined on the very latest numerically controlled machines (CNC) which offer a large amount of flexibility in terms of choice of operating mode. Then, the craftsman takes over from technology to give each piece its unique character, finished by hand in a way no industrial machine can ever replicate. He solders, files and adds the finishing touches to create an aesthetically harmonious case, on a par with the technical complexity housed within.
Les Artisans Boîtiers
Rue A.-M.- Piaget 26
CH-2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier
Created in 2003, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is the watchmaking centre’s engineering powerhouse. It produces high-quality manual and automatic mechanical movements and additional modules, and provides a very wide range of products to many Haute Horlogerie brands. Its industrial plant is the successor of the watchmaking tradition, as illustrated by its CNC machining, cutting and stamping activities, its large mechanical workshop and several workshops for watch pre-assembly, assembly and adjustment, where the work is started before being carried on by its sister companies. The traditional processes of the craftsmen are omnipresent, the driving force behind the industrial movement in its entirety.
Each of the calibres produced by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is given a surface finish of an exceptional quality, using diverse operations such as the decoration and hand bevelling of all components, thereby demonstrating its cultural roots in authentic high-end watchmaking. On the other hand, a constant desire to innovate drives the Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier’s Research and Development Department to invent new calibres in order to build an increasingly comprehensive and impressive range of products.
Since 2013, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier has developed a new entity: Vaucher Private Label. This enables it to open up its expertise to talented watchmakers and brands producing small volumes, by allowing them to procure movements, dials, cases and finished products from a minimum order of 25 movements. These watchmakers benefit from the experience and reputation of the manufacture, and can mine its independent network of skills to create their pieces. What is most important to Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is that authentic watchmaking traditions are always brought to the fore – both within its walls and beyond.
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier
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In December 2000, when the Sandoz Family acquired the atokalpa company, based in the Jura town of Alle, the company specialised in the production of traditional gears. The 20 different roles carried out there enabled all the components of a watch gear to be expertly produced, using machines as diverse as a bar turner and a laser machine. Since then, the strategy has evolved to encompass the production of an even greater range of high-end components, with all the painstaking and high-quality workmanship this demands.
By 2006, atokalpa was able to produce all the elements required to assemble an oscillator; a total of around twenty additional components, including the spring balance, pallet fork and escapement train wheel. The company then entered the hallowed circle of watchmakers able to master the complete manufacture of the regulating organ.
atokalpa also has an in-house department constructing machines for its own use, enabling it to explore an increasing number of innovative procedures and continuously increase its expertise.
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When Elwin was incorporated into the Parmigiani Fleurier Watchmaking Centre in January 2001, the company was already a respected supplier in Moutier, in the canton of Berne. It specialised in bar turning and the production of specific components, often complicated, which it processed using high-precision micro-mechanics – the watchword for its sector of activity.
Elwin is also renowned for its skills in the construction of numerically controlled bar turning machines, and the development of the software programs to use with them. These two axes – both the creation of machines and their subsequent use for bar turning – give Elwin a potential for innovation unrivalled in the production methods sector, and guarantee it an exceptional level of expertise. This is demonstrated by the fact that Elwin has developed a revolutionary new turning machine, designed specifically for the watchmaking world and its need for accuracy down to infinitesimally small dimensions. Humard Automation SA, based in Delémont, has taken over the manufacture and sales of this new product, christened the DH7.
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CH-2744 Belprahon Moutier
Michel Parmigiani, Master watchmaker and restorer
Michel Parmigiani was born on 2 December 1950 in Couvet, in the Canton of Neuchâtel. When it came to choosing his future career, he was torn. Would he become a watchmaker or an architect? Both disciplines combine creative and technical aspects. But watchmaking involves an element of mystery which attracted him as a young man. He decided to become a watchmaker. And he didn’t stop there. He added to his formal watchmaking training by specialising in restoration – the preserve of the watchmaking profession’s elite.
1976. The quartz watch crisis was ravaging the watchmaking industry. Michel Parmigiani nevertheless launched his career against all odds. His decision to open an independent workshop mainly focussing on restoration was not motivated by a rebellious spirit, but rather by a deep conviction: “When one has had the chance to work on as many wonders of the past as I have done,it was simply impossible to believe that traditional watchmaking would die out” he said, years later.
Controversially, his in-depth restoration work gave him the confidence he needed to pursue his watchmaking dreams, despite the naysayers. Using his methodology, the watchmaker built a real work ethic, honing his skills using the gems of knowledge he gleaned from every work of the past he analysed, learning how to best bring these back to life. Soon museums and collectors sought out his talents. In the 1980s, he was entrusted with the maintenance of the Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection. It was in this capacity that he met Pierre Landolt. The President of the Sandoz Family Foundation showed admiration and confidence in him which would sow the seeds for this incredible watchmaking adventure.
Twenty years after starting out as a watchmaker and restorer in a troubled climate, the discreet visionary had been entrusted with the production equipment and resources to create his eponymous brand. On 29 May 1996, Parmigiani Fleurier was officially launched under its first name, “Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps”. Authentic and faithful, just like its founder, the brand is a real think tank. Now operating under the name “Parmigiani Fleurier”, its creative freedom and independence can flourish thanks to the different centres of excellence which make up the Manufacture.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s 20th anniversary revealed a very positive outlook for the Manufacture’s capacity for creation, innovation and production. The presence of Michel Parmigiani enables the brand to stamp its signature on the watchmaking world with force and precision.
2 December 1950. Michel Parmigiani is born in Couvet (Switzerland) in Val-de-Travers, a region in the canton of Neuchâtel.
1966 – 1969. Michel Parmigiani decides to follow a course of training to become a practising watchmaker at the Fleurier school of watchmaking.
1969 – 1971. Michel Parmigiani extends his knowledge with further full watchmaking training at the La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum, followed by two years in the micromechanical construction department at the Le Locle Technicum.
1973 – 1975. He becomes Technical assistant to the management at Juvenia.
1976. Michel Parmigiani embarks on his solo career. He establishes his first workshop in Couvet.
1980. He becomes the official restorer for the collection of watchmaking artefacts owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation.
1985. Development of an extra-flat perpetual calendar for a pocket watch.
1988. Development of a constant-force instantaneous perpetual calendar clock with an autonomy of 8 days.
September 1990. Founding of the Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps company.
1990. Production of the Calibre 90, an automatic pocket watch designed for the Breguet firm.
1991. Michel Parmigiani and his restoration workshop breathe new life into the “Pendule Sympathique” clock by Breguet.
1993. Invention of and patent registration for the thirty-year continuous calendar clock concept.
21 March 1995. Michel Parmigiani receives the GAIA award for his entrepreneurship.
1995. Development of a pivoted detent escapement for chronometry.
1996. The Sandoz Family Foundation takes ownership of Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps and creates the Parmigiani Fleurier brand.
1998. Michel Parmigiani and his team restore the Planétarium.
1998. Restoration of the Breguet portico clock, commissioned by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte for her husband, Prince Anatole Demidov. Paris Museum of Decorative Arts collection.
September 2003. Michel Parmigiani establishes Fleurier Quality Certification.
November 2010. The first clock with a Hijiri continuous lunar calendar is presented at a world premiere for the Middle Eastern press.
February 2012. Michel Parmigiani is made an honorary citizen of the municipality of Val-de-Travers
From a Workshop to a Brand
In 1974, Michel Parmigiani had only recently graduated when the watchmaking industry was confronted with an unprecedented crisis caused by the massive influx of quartz movements from Asia. Watchmaking activity even vanished from Val-de-Travers. Such was the context in 1976, when Michel Parmigiani decided to open his own workshop in Couvet and dedicate himself to traditional watchmaking and restoration.
As a businessman, Michel Parmigiani devoted himself to his passion and primary area of expertise: restoration. Alongside this, he designed unique pieces for collectors showcasing his mastery of mechanical complications. Mesure et Art du Temps was a small workshop, but a thriving one.
And it was restoration that, in 1980, brought about the most important meeting in Michel Parmigiani’s career: he met the Landolt family. Heir to the Sandoz pharmaceutical group, now known as Novartis, the Landolt family held one of Switzerland’s most impressive collections of pocket watches and automata: the Maurice-Yves Sandoz Collection.
At that time, Effrène Jobin, Curator of the Watchmaking Museum in Le Locle, was in charge of restoring these amazing artefacts. He was looking for a successor, in preparation for his retirement. He introduced Michel Parmigiani to the family, who were confident in entrusting their collection to him.
Over the years, the family discovered Michel Parmigiani’s watchmaking talent and his expertise in the decorative arts. It was the beginning of a friendship based on mutual trust. Pierre Landolt persuaded Michel Parmigiani to move out of his somewhat cramped workshop and embark on a more ambitious project: to create his own brand. Parmigiani Fleurier was born in 1996.
Very soon, the Sandoz Family Foundation decided that, in order to create an authentic brand, they needed not only to design movements but also to manufacture them, that is, to produce all of the components to the high standards of craftsmanship which they held so dear. Through a series of acquisitions of small, high-quality suppliers, they soon brought together a number of component, case and dial manufacturers. The resulting entity began to produce its own escapements, the privilege of a select few watchmaking firms. In less than six years, the units now known as the “Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre” enabled Parmigiani Fleurier to monitor its entire production process, from the very smallest components right through to their final assembly to create the finished watch.
Thanks to this unique structure, in 20 years Parmigiani Fleurier has launched six collections and thirty-three calibres developed in-house, including four world firsts.
The Atelier Parmigiani and Studios Parmigiani
Beyond Fleurier and the five production sites of its Watchmaking Centre, Parmigiani Fleurier shares its expertise worldwide through its ATELIER PARMIGIANI and STUDIOS PARMIGIANI, which promote its values abroad.
The architecture of the ATELIER PARMIGIANI and STUDIOS PARMIGIANI has been designed by the architects’ office CA&CO, Paris under the direction of Thierry Conquet. It is designed to act as a showcase reflecting Parmigiani Fleurier’s characteristic style and elegance. Pure, structured lines, light proportions and easily identifiable materials provide a unique and intimate setting in which customers can admire Parmigiani Fleurier’s latest timepieces, from classic models to grand complications.
The ATELIER PARMIGIANI and STUDIOS PARMIGIANI are also approved centres for customer service, offering assistance and support in countries where the brand is present.
THE ATELIER PARMIGIANI IN LONDON : 97 Mount Street, London, W1K 2TD, UK
In 2012, the Atelier Parmigiani opened its doors in central London, in picturesque Mount Street, a quiet yet vibrant street in Mayfair. This Atelier places the watchmaker right at its heart, as the real orchestrator. He is surrounded by an oval bench, which is custom-built to provide him with access to his numerous tools. A complete collection of the brand’s watches is arranged around him, in the numerous display cases built into the bench. The workbench is enhanced by a gilded skylight. Pin oak, streaked wood, weathered bronze, silk curtains and woven velvet seats are the pure and authentic materials chosen to convey Parmigiani elegance.
THE STUDIO PARMIGIANI IN BEIJING: Sparkle Roll Luxury World, 40 Xing Fu Er Cun, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District, 100027 Beijing
Opened in 2011, the Studio Parmigiani in Beijing offers a large, open space dedicated to showcasing the complete collection of Parmigiani Fleurier timepieces.
THE STUDIO PARMIGIANI IN MIAMI: 140 N.E. 39th Street, PC #108, Miami, FL 33137, USA
Parmigiani Fleurier opened its first North American Studio in 2015 in Miami’s increasingly popular “Design District”, a hub of creativity, shopping and entertainment. Parmigiani Fleurier has combined the Brand’s signature codes with the innovative spirit so prevalent in the Design District, ensuring that the Studio Parmigiani is, as always, in perfect harmony with its surroundings.
THE STUDIO PARMIGIANI IN PARIS : Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris, France
The latest STUDIO PARMIGIANI opened its doors in 2015 in the heart of the Palais-Royal, France’s cultural and historical hub where the King’s master craftsmen once perfected their art. Designed as a study, rather than a traditional store, this STUDIO PARMIGIANI combines expert marquetry and wood work in a palette of grey and bronze which gives the studio a sophisticated and timeless atmosphere.