Michel Parmigiani could not have graduated as a watchmaker at a worse time, in the middle of what the Swiss watch industry now refers to as the “quartz crisis”. At a time when the industry was shedding jobs in the thousands, setting up a workshop seemed like folly. But Michel Parmigiani stuck resolutely to the path of traditional watchmaking, dedicating himself to the art of watch restoration.
His breakthrough came in the early 1980s, when Effrène Jobin, the curator of the watchmaking museum in Le Locle, was looking for someone to take over the responsibility of maintaining and restoring one of Switzerland’s finest collections of pocket watches and automata – the Edouard Marcel Sandoz collection belonging to the Sandoz family.
After years of collaboration during which the family discovered Michel Parmigiani’s exceptional talent as a watchmaker, Pierre Landolt, today President of the Sandoz Family Foundation, encouraged Michel Parmigiani to enter the limelight and the Parmigiani Fleurier watch brand was established in 1996 – the same year in which the family company Sandoz SA merged with Ciba-Geigy SA to form Novartis.
Bringing together five different entities in less than six years, the Sandoz Family Foundation subsequently built up an entire watchmaking competence centre that has created a genuine manufacture with all of its competences embodied in the Parmigiani Fleurier brand.