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