Parmigiani Fleurier Interview with Guido Terreni
What’s the outlook for 2021 for Parmigiani
Founded in the midst of the quartz crisis by the eponymous watchmaker driven a passion for historical timepieces – and with the support of the Sandoz Foundation which entrusted him with restoring its priceless collection – Parmigiani Fleurier soon became a fully integrated manufacture. Its three collections of ladies’ and men’s watches are intended for a discerning clientele and regularly enriched with exceptional creations. Michel Parmigiani has always focused on the creation of watches, leaving the actual management of the brand to executives in agreement with the foundation. At the beginning of 2021, within a difficult global context as Parmigiani Fleurier is celebrating its 25th anniversary, it has entrusted its destiny to a new CEO, Guido Terreni. His network, his product knowledge and his twenty years of successful experience in the highest echelons of the watch industry should enable him to give fresh impetus to this still sometimes underestimated brand.
What have been your priorities since you took office in February?
These first three months have been very intense at Parmigiani Fleurier, which I saw as a prestigious brand with a very strong reputation in the field of mechanical horology and artisanal culture, where expertise reigns supreme. Whereas I needed some time for calm reflection to immerse myself in the soul of the brand, there was a sense of urgency due to the health crisis. My priority was to better understand the brand and to have individual discussions with each of the 80 employees in order to grasp their motivations. A semi-artisanal brand like Parmigiani has a very intimate core, which needs to be apprehended in a specific way because it implies uncompromising choices. These interviews proved to be fascinating and enabled me to see products in a different light, while at the same time identifying the expectations of the customers, which vary greatly from one brand to another. At the same time, I had to get to know Michel Parmigiani, this living watchmaking legend whom I regard as the most fascinating restoration specialist in the industry. He has helped me discover a new perception of watchmaking that I had not encountered in my 20-year career. He has a purist’s approach and an extremely culturally-oriented outlook; he thinks outside the box and looks for unusual ideas, while being modest and sensitive. During the quartz crisis, he saw in mechanical watchmaking a deeply Swiss cultural treasure that was about to disappear and that had to be saved. His hands work magic, creating art objects to magnify mechanical power on a scale even greater than the watch. I have learned a lot from him. I have found teams capable of reacting very well to external stimuli such as mine and to a new vision of the market.
Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black © Parmigiani Fleurier
In which ways, for example ?
Take the Tonda GT, introduced last year. We have refined the style to ensure its longevity. We have to ensure we don’t spread ourselves too thin. A watch lasts for a century and the real pillars of watchmaking appear every ten years, but some brands launch them all the time for commercial reasons. The brand must remain very precise in its actions and each watch must have its reason for being. We must think of the people who have already bought it and show them respect, rather than focusing exclusively in the next customers. This is what we tried to do with our Tondagraph GT Silver Black. It notably features beautiful guilloché work around the black counters, the warmth of gold in a two-tone version, new shimmering effects and proportions, exceptional comfort on the wrist… I am still discovering details procuring new pleasures after three months and it is indeed very comfortable. Our aim is therefore to develop this collection, which has attracted a younger clientele that is getting to know the brand. We are going to add watchmaking substance in a coherent, harmonious way, to imbue it with a very refined spirit reflecting non-ostentatious good taste. We are looking to allow wearers to experience very intimate emotions, rather than showing off what they have on their wrist. These new clients in their thirties and forties are as keen on expertise as they are on contemporary elegance.
What kind of individuals are Parmigiani watches intended for?
We are fortunate to have an average price of around CHF 25,000 to 30,000. This is an educated clientele that understands our know-how and does not want to flaunt its power. These are cultured people with a knowledge refined watchmaking and who are looking for stunning finishes but in a discreet object. This is the very soul of unostentatious Swiss wealth. When one Parmigiani customer recognizes another by the watch on his wrist.
We witness the encounter two people who share a passion and whose discussions rise to a higher level – just as in modern art or photography, where the intuitive conversation between two people with an exclusive profile covers relatively little-known topics. By respecting the models of the past that continue to exist, our new collection addresses these customers in a spirit tailored to the aesthetics of our era. For this reason, our preferred retailers believe in Parmigiani Fleurier; highly competent and well trained, they know how to present watches with significant content and are able to make customers understand what is refined and exclusive rather than merely following marketing plans.
The House © Parmigiani Fleurier
What’s the outlook for 2021
We would like to be able to celebrate our 25th anniversary and are preparing an exceptional piece in the spirit of the substance that the brand puts into its great creations. It will be linked to our heritage and expertise in artistic crafts, thereby illustrating another facet than the innovation for which the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awarded us a prize in 2020. This authenticity in terms of what we offer is very important to us. There is an audience today with a penchant for less institutional brands, which understands the intrinsic value of niche brands and which likes to have access to watches that require an educated eye. We are living in a historic moment. It is the brand’s job to be clear about its identity, its soul, and to communicate that effectively. By conveying this emotional dimension, and at the right price, Parmigiani Fleurier definitely has the potential to achieve this.
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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.Find out more >
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