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20th Anniversary
Parmigiani Fleurier - Michel Parmigiani

Parmigiani Fleurier Michel Parmigiani

Founder*

Michel Parmigiani is a relentless perfectionist. His early days in horology were not at the most opportune time: in 1976, quartz was wreaking havoc in the world of mechanical watchmaking. “I felt like an outcast, starting out on the wrong path against all prevailing wisdom,” he recalls. But he had spotted something others had failed to see: the beauty of old-fashioned watchmaking and its great masters.

After some 15 years working in restoration, Michel Parmigiani was entrusted with maintenance of the Sandoz collection – a priceless treasure trove. As a result, he met Pierre Landolt, president of the Sandoz Family Foundation; and in 1996, Landolt provided him with the resources to start a business in his own name. At the turn of the millennium, ‘Parmigiani Fleurier’ embarked on a series of acquisitions in order to become an integrated Manufacture. In 2000, the firm bought out Bruno Affolter, later known as Les Artisans Boîtiers. That same year, Elwin and Atokalpa joined the group, bringing with them skills in machining, gears, micro-components, and regulating organs. In 2003, Vaucher Manufacture was founded, and in 2005, dial manufacturers Quadrance & Habillage joined the group. In 2006 they all became the Sandoz Family Foundation’s Watchmaking Hub, with Parmigiani Fleurier as a client.

Michel Parmigiani

Michel Parmigiani © Parmigiani Fleurier

Parmigiani made a very personal contribution to the new millennium. The Kalpa, Pershing, and Toric all introduced compelling new formats. La Tonda reinvented 1950s classicism. The brand drew inspiration from traditional fine watchmaking whilst creating its own identity, featuring ‘delta’ hands and dials with guilloché, hobnail and meteorite finishings. Parmigiani’s art resides in subtleties, discernible only to the experienced eye of seasoned collectors.

Occasionally, Parmigiani allows himself a little extravagance. The telescopic hands on his Ovale Pantographe extend to match the curves of the case as they rotate – a complication that had not been used for two hundred years. Rather than being round and flat, the movements in his Bugatti are cylindrical and vertical. By 2020, when Michel Parmigiani turned 70, the hard worker had ploughed a deep furrow – one in which plenty of young shoots have sprouted.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.

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One of the more recent success stories of the Swiss watchmaking industry, Parmigiani Fleurier emerged from the close relationship between watchmaker Michel Parmigiani and the Sandoz Family Foundation.

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