Parmigiani Fleurier Story

Parmigiani Fleurier Story

Among all the watch masters, Michel Parmigiani is a man of few words. When seeing his being focused on work, people can really feel his passion and persistence for art and timepieces. Thus, such charisma is completely transferred to Parmigiani Fleurier’s timepieces, letting Parmigiani’s watches shine with its fine craftsmanship, beautiful engraving and brilliant movements. Within 10 years after its establishment, Parmigiani’s watches have set the image with fine watch-making skills and aesthetic concepts in the watch industry. How did the cultivated, artistic, sensitive man enter the timepieces world and how could he establish the watch brand Parmigiani Fleurier?

Born in 1950, Michel Parmigiani grew up in an ordinary family in Couvet, a small town in Neuchatel in Switzerland. Perhaps it was due to his Italian father’s working on mechanical field, Parmigiani was keen on machines and watches at a very young age. He believed the key guiding him to enter the timepiece world was “opportunity”. On Parmigiani’s twelfth birthday, his father gave him an Olma watch as a gift. Since then, Parmigiani had developed an immense passion for watches at a very young age. Later, he studied about timepieces at a school in Fleurier and after graduation, he entered the institutes of technology in Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle to further his studies.

After obtaining a diploma from the school in Fleurier, Parmigiani had been an apprentice of Marcel Jean Richard, the descendant of the prominent Swiss astronomical clock master Daniel Jean Richard, and started his watch-making career. This not only enhanced Parmigiani’s techniques and reinforced the concepts about making watches, but also accumulated the precious experience about making numerous complex timepieces, providing him with a strong base for having his own career to specialize in repairing the antique timepieces later. Besides, Parmigiani self-studied and delved into making watches to explore the wonders and the aesthetics of watch-making techniques.

In 1973, Parmigiani was employed as the Assistant Director in a watch-making factory. Not only did this allow him to experience the fall of the watch-making industry in Fleurier from prime time to dwindling due to the fad of quartz watches, but also let him realize he could materialize his dreams only by being a creator of timepieces. In 1975, Michel Parmigiani decided to establish his own company Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps (PMAT) and entered the field of repairing famous timepieces. He did a lot of research on repairing antique timepieces and delved into the watch-making techniques, including the 450-year-old antique mechanical watches.  In just a few years, Parmigiani had repaired many rare and valuable timepieces for some famous people and museums, including the precise marine astronomical clocks, royal clocks, chime clocks and music boxes, to restore the essence of mechanical timepieces. Among all the experience of repairing timepieces, the most remarkable success was that Parmigiani repaired the Breguet’s Pendule Sympathique, created by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1821. At that time, most of the experts thought it was impossible to resume its functions. However, Michel Parmigiani took on the duty of repairing the watch. It was unbelievable that after spending 2,000 hours, he succeeded in restoring the functions of a minute repeater which was once thought to be unfixable.  Such a precious timepiece glowed at the auction in Geneva, being sold at over 1 million dollars. Besides shocking the global timepiece industry, this also established the status of watch master for Parmigiani.

Parmigiani was assigned by the Sandoz Family Foundation in Switzerland to restore the valuable private collection of numerous timepieces, including the timepieces from Renaissance, music boxes and astronomical clocks. He was also assigned to repair the precious tourbillon created by Breguet and kept in Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan. Parmigiani succeeded in repairing the precious tourbillon and gained the appreciation from the Sandoz Family Foundation. He obtained the financial assistance from the Foundation as well and this enabled to expand Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps (PMAT) and helped him greatly on establishing the brand Parmigiani Fleurier. 

During this time, Parmigiani dedicated himself to repairing precious and remarkable timepieces and in late 1980s, he started to manufactured the specific components for complex timepieces for some famous manufacturers in Switzerland. Most preciously, Michel Parmigiani insisted on providing superb craftsmanship and producing quality timepieces for repairing antique timepieces and developing new timing devices in pursuit of harmony and perfection.  During this period, he invented seven new operation modes and three mechanisms.

Apart from probing into making watches, Parmigiani was also immersed in pursuing the beauty of balance, harmony and power shown by flowers, plants, trees or seashells in the nature. In his mind, he believed the essence of the nature was the perfect manifestation of precise watch-making techniques. Several hundred years ago, Leonardo of Pisa, also known as Fibonacci, discovered the Fibonacci numbers. In this series, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers and the quotient of 1.168 is obtained by dividing the number by its previous number in the series. This is the Golden Proportion. In the world of animals and plants, such a proportion can be found anywhere. For example, the number of petals and the arrangement patterns of daisy and sunflowers, the structure of a pineapple consistent with the spiral curves, the shell of a snail, a cone and the arrangement of branches and leaves of trees are all consistent with the Fibonacci numbers.

Since the marvel of nature had captivated Michel Parmigiani, the aesthetics of the nature helped foster Parmigiani’s creativity and broaden his horizons. He realized from the ubiquitous flowers the real meaning of Fibonacci numbers and this enhanced his skills to create the carvings for Rose Carree, showing the perfection of blending lines and geometric figures in Parmigiani’s watches. This marked the significance in watch-making and allowed Parmigiani’s timepieces to tell the time with unique rhythms, which was consistent with the Golden Proportion.

In 1995, 51% of shares of PMAT were purchased by Novartis, a very well-known pharmaceutical manufacturer, and the Sandoz Family Foundation. Such a purchase not only showed the recognition on the prospects of Michel Parmigiani’s timepieces, it also allowed Parmigiani to have abundant capital to establish and manufacture his own brand of timepieces. Parmigiani decided to return to Fleurier, a town he learnt the watch-making techniques, and set up the factory Parmigiani Fleurier in 1996. Fleurier is a wonderland lying in the quiet green valleys and far away from the hustle and bustle world. Michel Parmigiani enlisted many brilliant experts such as porcelain painters, sculptors, craftsmen, watch repairers, watch manufacturers and movement designers to reform the timepiece industry by unshackling the confinements. Parmigiani Fleurier watches, created and boomed in the beautiful town Fleurier, have been the unique timepieces for those customers appreciating the beauty and the art of timepieces. This contributes to Parmigiani Fleurier watches glowing in glory and leaping to be the top.

**no guarantee about story is completely accurate and existed difference**