INTERVIEW: Twenty Years On MICHEL PARMI­GIANI, FOUNDER OF PARMI­GIANI FLEURIER

Bespoke - - EMPEROR 1688 -

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your 20th an­niver­sary. Look­ing back, what are you most proud of? I would say it’s the unique haute hor­logerie pieces we have cre­ated over the years, start­ing on May 29th, 1996, when we launched the brand with 51 high-com­pli­ca­tion pieces, to the He­girian Cal­en­dar clock, the Fi­bonacci pocket watch, and so on.

Look­ing for­ward, how will Parmi­giani Fleurier evolve be­yond Michel Parmi­giani? My hope is that the brand be­comes the ref­er­ence for qual­ity and in­no­va­tion in terms of fine watch­mak­ing pushed to its very lim­its, both in terms of tech­ni­cal com­pli­ca­tions and dec­o­ra­tion. But it’s not about haute hor­logerie for the sake of haute hor­logerie, my dream is to ful­fil the fan­tasies of the most dis­cern­ing watch col­lec­tors. That is a worthy dream.

But Parmi­giani stands for more than unique cre­ations; you have one of the widest price ranges of any of the brands around. Ab­so­lutely, but they all fit within the same phi­los­o­phy. We like to think that many of our cus­tomers fall in love with the brand at the lower en­try points and, as their means grow, they turn to the higher-end pieces. With ever more com­pe­ti­tion in the mar­ket­place, how does Parmi­giani Fleurier stand out from the crowd? Via our in­de­pen­dence and the fact that we are one of the few fully in­te­grated man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world to­day. We don’t de­pend on any­one and what that means is that we can cre­ate any type of watch we want, all in-house. This is the key.

Do you still fab­ri­cate for other peo­ple? We do in­deed. It was a strate­gic de­ci­sion we took some years ago be­cause ei­ther we had to re­main ar­ti­sanal and make just 200 to 400 pieces a year, or we could de­velop a huge in­dus­trial struc­ture, but we would need to sup­ply other brands in or­der to off­set its enor­mous in­vest­ment.

Is your wish that Parmi­giani re­mains in­de­pen­dent of the large watch groups? Yes, be­cause when you are in­te­grated into a large group, then ev­ery­thing be­comes too ho­moge­nous and qual­ity of­ten goes adrift as the pres­sure mounts to pro­duce ever larger quan­ti­ties and faster. Also, I love that as a fam­ily busi­ness we have the abil­ity to re­main a very hu­man com­pany.

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