Parmigiani Fleurier is a luxury watch manufacture based in Fleurier in the Swiss valley of Val-de-Travers. Founded by watchmaker and restorer Michel Parmigiani in 1996, this fine watchmaking brand has its own watchmaking centre ensuring its independence, full control over the production process and unique creative freedom.
Michel Parmigiani is also known for his expertise in watch restoration, having founded his own restoration workshop, which has become a world-renowned center for the restoration of historical timepieces.
Michel Parmigiani, Master watchmaker and restorer
Michel Parmigiani is a Swiss watchmaker and founder of Parmigiani Fleurier. He was born in 1950 in Couvet, Switzerland and began his career in watchmaking as an apprentice in a restoration workshop.
In 1976, he founded his own restoration workshop, where he specialized in restoring antique timepieces. His expertise in restoration earned him a reputation in the industry, and he was eventually approached by the Sandoz Family Foundation to restore their collection of antique timepieces.
In 1996, Michel Parmigiani founded Parmigiani Fleurier, with the goal of creating high-quality, innovative timepieces. The brand has since become known for its technical excellence and innovative designs and has won numerous awards.
In addition to his work with Parmigiani Fleurier, Parmigiani has been involved in a number of other projects related to watchmaking. He co-founded the “Qualité Fleurier Certification” which is a rigorous set of standards for the quality and precision of mechanical watch movements, and he has served as the president of the Foundation for the Development of Watchmaking in Switzerland.
Michel Parmigiani has been recognized for his contributions to the watchmaking industry with a number of awards and honors, including the Gaia Prize for “Entrepreneurship and Management” in 2002 and the Swiss Watch Industry Award in 2014.
History of Parmigiani Fleurier Watches
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.
On 29 May 1996, Parmigiani Fleurier was officially launched at the Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, and in the village of Fleurier, which is the historical heart of watchmaking in Val-de-Travers.
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.
Parmigiani Fleurier and the Watchmaking Centre
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.
Rue du Temple 11
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.
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier
Ch. du Righi 2
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.
route de Miécourt 2
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.
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.
Opened in 2012, The ATELIER PARMIGIANI is located at 97 Mount Street, London. In addition, the brand has PARMIGIANI STUDIOS in Beijing, Miami and Paris.
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.
1990: Founding of the Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps company. 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.
1995: Michel Parmigiani receives the GAIA award for his entrepreneurship. 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. Restoration of the Breguet portico clock, commissioned by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte for her husband, Prince Anatole Demidov. Paris Museum of Decorative Arts collection.
2003: Michel Parmigiani establishes Fleurier Quality Certification.
2010: The first clock with a Hijiri continuous lunar calendar is presented at a world premiere for the Middle Eastern press.
2012: Michel Parmigiani is made an honorary citizen of the municipality of Val-de-Travers.
Parmigiani Fleurier Watch Collections
Parmigiani Fleurier timepieces are divided into 5 families but share common traits which run through the entire collection.
The quest for harmonious proportions based on the golden ratio so close to Michel Parmigiani’s heart is reflected in the lugs on all of the watches. They also share the attention to detail and artisanal craftsmanship in every component, even the ones hidden from view. Each watch with a proprietary calibre holds Michel Parmigiani’s personality and his vision of Swiss watchmaking.
The flagship collections from the brand are BUGATTI, KALPA, OVALE, TORIC, TONDA GT and TONDA PF.