PAST, PRESENT AND FU­TURE

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - PHOTOGRAPHY PARMI­GIANI FLEURIER

How does a 20-yearold man­u­fac­ture like Parmi­giani Fleurier man­age to keep ev­ery­thing in-house? The Peak finds out from its founder, Michel Parmi­giani, him­self.

How does a 20-year-old man­u­fac­ture like Parmi­giani Fleurier man­age to keep ev­ery­thing in-house? Daniel Goh finds out from its founder, Michel Parmi­giani, him­self. When it comes to the world of mod­ern horol­ogy, we have come to a point where ‘in-house’ is a buzz­word that most lux­ury watch­mak­ers are steer­ing to­wards. The abil­ity to make in-house move­ments is ap­plauded, while the high­est rung of praise is saved for those who can even man­u­fac­ture the tricky es­cape­ment and hair­spring un­der one roof. Most of the brands that can claim this usu­ally have decades, if not cen­turies, of her­itage but, sur­pris­ingly, Parmi­giani Fleurier, a man­u­fac­turer that has only been around for 20 years, can also proudly pro­claim to make ev­ery­thing in-house; and all this is thanks to the brand’s epony­mous founder – Michel Parmi­giani.

Al­though, of­fi­cially, Parmi­giani Fleurier was es­tab­lished in 1996, its founder had started a busi­ness ded­i­cated to the restora­tion of clocks and old pocket watches much ear­lier in 1976. As the story goes, Parmi­giani would work on restora­tion projects dur­ing the day and, at night, he ded­i­cated his time to his per­sonal cre­ations. “Even be­fore the launch of the brand Parmi­giani Fleurier, I was al­ready cre­at­ing move­ments for the pocket watches and clocks I was restor­ing. It was also around that time I cre­ated my first move­ment with eight days of power re­serve, which we still have to­day,” re­counts Parmi­giani.

Each work that Parmi­giani re­stored en­riched his tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and ex­per­tise as a watch­maker and, by the 1980s, he was en­trusted with the main­te­nance of the price­less Maurice-Yves San­doz col­lec­tion. It was through this con­nec­tion that he was ac­quainted with Pierre Lan­dolt, the Pres­i­dent of the San­doz Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, and, through them, Parmi­giani ac­quired the re­sources to set up the brand bear­ing his own name in 1996. Parmi­giani ex­plains: “When I set up the brand in 1996, it was re­ally a con­tin­u­a­tion from the 1970s be­cause, by then, I al­ready had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to cre­ate. The back­ing of the San­doz Fam­ily Foun­da­tion pro­pelled it for­ward, speeding up the process.

“With the launch of the brand in 1996, all this ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise started to be am­pli­fied. The San­doz Fam­ily Foun­da­tion also in­vested a lot in build­ing the rest of the el­e­ments that would con­trib­ute to the in­te­grated struc­ture of the Parmi­giani Fleurier man­u­fac­ture, not only for the move­ments but also for the case and the dial,” Parmi­giani ex­plains. The di­als come from Quad­rance & Ha­bil­lage, the cases from Les Ar­ti­sans Boîtiers, the move­ments from Vaucher Man­u­fac­ture Fleurier, and the com­po­nents (in­clud­ing the reg­u­lat­ing or­gan and hair­spring) from El­win and atokalpa – SFF Com­posants Hor­logers SA.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, this ver­ti­cally in­te­grated struc­ture not only gives Parmi­giani Fleurier the free­dom to cre­ate ev­ery­thing it needs with­out sac­ri­fic­ing cre­ativ­ity, but also af­fords it a busi­ness model of sup­ply­ing parts to other watch­mak­ers. For ex­am­ple, in ad­di­tion to mak­ing move­ments for Parmi­giani, Vaucher also makes move­ments for Her­mes, Richard Mille, Co­rum, Baume & Mercier and Fabergé. In his words: “In or­der to cre­ate the tools we use make ev­ery­thing in-house, we needed to have a min­i­mum pro­duc­tion vol­ume and, be­cause this vol­ume is big­ger than what we can sell, we have opened our doors to other brands.”

Through­out all of this, restora­tion has re­mained an in­te­gral part of Parmi­giani’s work. “Com­mer­cially, restora­tion of clocks and watches are not ac­tiv­i­ties that gen­er­ate profit for Parmi­giani Fleurier, but it is sus­tain­able and cov­ers its cost. Restora­tion re­mains the soul of the brand be­cause of what it brings to the com­pany in terms of tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and in­spi­ra­tion from the past that can be trans­lated to con­tem­po­rary cre­ations.”

Cre­ations like the Toric Hemis­phères Rétro­grade that re­cently won a prize in the 2017 Grand Prix d’Hor­logerie de Genève (GPHG). The idea for this dual time watch that dis­plays two time­zones, ac­cu­rate to the near­est minute, was in­spired by a pocket watch most prob­a­bly cre­ated in the 1870s. Sim­ply known as the ‘dual time pocket watch’, this re­mark­able

time­piece in the Maurice-Yves San­doz col­lec­tion houses two sep­a­rate move­ments within the case and be­came the im­pe­tus for Parmi­giani’s re­search into cre­at­ing an in­ge­nious mech­a­nism which has a mo­tor move­ment and a ‘fol­lower’ mod­ule for the Toric Hemis­phères.

Through the knowl­edge gar­nered from the past, Parmi­giani Fleurier looks like it is well po­si­tioned for the fu­ture as well. Util­is­ing the tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise amassed, it has man­aged to build in­cred­i­ble mod­ern move­ments like the Bu­gatti Type 370, which is as­sem­bled along a hor­i­zon­tal axis, in a tubu­lar for­ma­tion. Or even the more re­cent Tonda Chronor An­niver­saire (which also won a GPHG prize) with an in­te­grated chrono­graph move­ment made of solid gold.

What be­gan as an en­trepreneurial ad­ven­ture back in 1976, at the height of the quartz cri­sis, has now trans­formed into one of the most im­por­tant strongholds of tra­di­tional watch­mak­ing. Parmi­giani ex­plains: “I have faith in the tra­di­tional watch­maker’s art; it is the cor­ner­stone of Parmi­giani Fleurier and has been the guid­ing force through­out my ca­reer.”

01 The Toric Hémis­phères

Rétro­grade of­fers the abil­ity to tell two dif­fer­ent time­zones, each ac­cu­rate to the near­est minute.

02 The Tonda Chronor An­niver­saire comes with an in­te­grated chrono­graph move­ment in solid gold.

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