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Parmigiani Fleurier SA


Parmigiani Fleurier SA (Est.1996) was established in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland. In many ways, it was the Sandoz Family Foundation and its dedication to preserving Swiss expertise that propelled Parmigiani Fleurier to become one of the few brands to design each model as a showpiece, created and perfected within its own network of workshops. The founder, Michel Parmigiani, coordinated with the Sandoz family to set up the headquarters in Fleurier, a symbolic town with a tradition for watchmaking.

Michel Parmigiani was born in 1950 in Couvet, a small village in the Val-de-Travers, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. When deciding on a career, Michael was torn between watchmaking and architecture, two disciplines as technical as they are creative. When he understood that he was more drawn to the mysteries inherent in Swiss haute horlogerie, his choice seemed obvious. After studying at the Val-de-Travers school of watchmaking then at La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum, Michel went on to specialize in restoration, the field reserved for the best and most skilled watchmakers.

In 1976, while the quartz crisis was ravaging the landscape of traditional watchmaking, he set up his own workshop dedicated to restoration. During the day, he restored many marvels of past watchmaking while at night devoting himself to his personal creations. Each piece that Michel restored opened the secrets of its mechanism and enriched his technical knowledge and expertise as a watchmaker.

He soon made a name for himself among watch museums and collectors who noticed his talents. In 1980, he was entrusted with the maintenance of the priceless Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection. It was in this capacity that he met Pierre Landolt, president of the Sandoz Family Foundation, who played a major role in the watchmaking adventure on which Michael embarked.

The Sandoz owned a priceless collection of automata and clocks from the storied collection of Edouard and Maurice Sandoz. When the trustees recognized Michael’s talents, they encouraged him to create his own brand.

In 1996, Michel Parmigiani acquired the production means and resources to create a brand that would bear his name and on May 29, 1996, Parmigiani Fleurier was officially launched. Today it is known as a brand which aspires to be rich not only in technical skills, but also in master craftsmanship, committed to upholding — and sometimes resurrecting — proven techniques.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s founder is involved in the creation of each and every prestige watch. The brand and its fully independent manufacturing facility remain faithful to the quest for excellence and has been a hallmark of Michel Parmigiani’s career.

Parmigiani Fleurier chose industrial independence very early on. It gave Michael the freedom to practice cutting-edge watchmaking, versatility, and technically advanced creativity without limitation. In only a few years, a facility was set up with the aim of mastering all the components of a watch. The dials and their meticulous decorations; the cases in their most complex designs, and, also, the heart of the watch where the regulating organ, its balance-spring, and each tiny screw and gear that are barely visible to the eye to form the movement.

In this environment of industrial craftsmanship, designers mix with engineers and artisans who work side-by-side with high-end watchmakers. Behind a single watch there are more than 50 professions who work together to revive the art of watchmaking.

Each watch embodies Michael’s personality and echoes the special relationship between the Manufacture and those who choose it for the pieces conceived, designed and produced within its watchmaking center. Today each new Parmigiani creation is equipped with an in-house movement made possible by the brand’s industrial capacity and organization.

In 1999, Michel Parmigiani unveiled the Toric QP Retrograde, his first wristwatch for Parmigiani Fleurier. The piece has a bezel with alternating gadroons and knurling, a distinctive style which would go on to become one of the brand's hallmarks.

The Kalpa Hebdomadaire (formerly “Ionica”) was created, with a rectangular form similar to the “tonneau”. The volumes of this piece, the first of which was based on the golden number (a harmonious ratio of proportions) has shaped every one of the brand's subsequent creations. The Kalpa Hebdomadaire's mechanism is also a movement focused on form, closely echoing the contours of the case middle.

By 2001, the company became a hub of expert craftsmanship, using cutting-edge technology to manufacture the most complex watch cases. The same year it acquired Atokalpa, a firm which would prove fundamental to creating strategic watch components. Specializing in the manufacture of trains, pinion and micro-gears, Atokalpa had also dedicated itself to the enormous task of researching how to manufacture the regulating organ of a watch.

Since 2005, the company has been able to manufacture the balance and its balance-spring, the pallet fork and the escapement wheel using industrial methods. The company Elwin joined the Parmigiani Fleurier watchmaking center consolidating its strength in strategic watch components.

Elwin is a precision bar turning specialist providing all hardware for a mechanical movement – screws, pinions, balance staffs, and wheels. The company constructs its own bar turning machinery, developing the Decathlon machines which have since gone on to be one of the greatest innovations in bar turning for watches.

In 2004, Parmigiani Fleurier entered into a partnership with Bugatti, unveiling the Bugatti Type 370, a timepiece which defied all conventions of watchmaking. Assembled along a horizontal axis, and in a tubular formation – evoking a car's engine – the Bugatti Type 370 was a world first.

It was in 2005 that the Parmigiani Fleurier watchmaking center joined with Quadrance et Habillage, a company specializing in the manufacture of high-end dials. Quadrance et Habillage is the jewel in Parmigiani Fleurier's creative crown. Through the diversity of dials it can create, it gives each of the brand's watches its distinctive face. Guilloché work, épargnage, galvanoplasty, transfers, and engraving are just some of the many processes that Quadrance et Habillage employs every day to give dials their individuality.

In 2007, the brand introduced the Tonda Hémisphères featuring a dual time function with each zone adjustable to the nearest minute. The Parmigiani Fleurier collection welcomed its first travel watch when it joined forces with the Montreux Jazz Festival building the foundations of a unique alliance between the worlds of watchmaking and music.

Parmigiani Fleurier unveiled the Tonda 42 Tourbillon in 2008. Equipped with a 30-second tourbillon, it reinforced the watch’s accuracy. The Parmigiani Fleurier Collection for Women was also born in 2008 with the introduction of the Kalparisma Nova, a watch for women with the characteristic rectangular shape of the Kalpa family while incorporating refined feminine touches such as the gems set in a constellation, and a tiny star at 6 o'clock indicating the seconds.

In 2011, to recognize Michel Parmigiani's 60th birthday, the brand introduces the Tonda 1950, its name referencing Michael’s birth year. It is the brand's first ultra-slim watch.

It was in 2013 that Parmigiani Fleurier and crystal specialist Lalique unveiled a collaborative piece: the 15-Day table clock. It was a prodigious technical accomplishment where the movement, combined with the beauty of Lalique's signature crystal work and marked the start of a valuable collaboration.

In 2014, inspired by a pocket watch restored by Parmigiani Fleurier, the Ovale Pantographe was introduced. It reproduces the magic of telescopic hands on a wristwatch. The retractable hands expand and collapse, closely mirroring the shape of an oval.

The next year, Parmigiani Fleurier presented the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon, which reinterpreted the elegance of the Tonda 1950 adding to it the thinnest flying tourbillon in the world.

In 2016, the brand introduced the Hippologia, a table clock and automaton that fascinates and enthralls spectators each time it is activated. A mare and her foal gallop across the desert, with the kinematics of their stride studied in minute detail to make it as realistic as possible.

This unique piece marked a rare convergence of craftsmen from the worlds of watchmaking, automata, crystal work, and numerous decorative arts, each adding its own touch of prestige.

In 2017, the hotly anticipated Bugatti Type 390 astounded the watchmaking world. Featuring a wealth of technical advances, this model defied watchmaking conventions with no fewer than 4 patents awaiting confirmation. It was a technical achievement that is attributed to Parmigiani Fleurier’s fully independent watchmaking center.

The brand’s current collections for men include Kalpa, Tonda, Bugatti, Toric, and Ovale. These are offered as the Kalpa Kalpagraphe, (a limited edition of 99 pieces, Kalpa Qualite Fleurier, Kalpa Kalpagraphe Chronometre, Kalpa Hebromadaire, Kalpa Kalparisma, Kalpa Piccola, Kalpa Piccola Anniversal, Kapa Donna, Kalpa Donna Anniversaire, 1950 Lune, Tonda 1950, Metrographe, Tonda, Calendrier Annuel, Tonda 1950 Squelette, Tonda Hémphères, Tonda 39 QF, Tonda Metropolitaine, Tonda Metropolitaine Selene, Toric Chronometre, Toric Hemispheres Retrogradem Toric Qualite Fleurier, the Bugatti Aerolithe, and, still for women, the Kalpa Kalpagraphe.

In a November 2019 article that appeared on the online site, Watchtime, it said that, “Parmigiani Fleurier is exploring new, sportier territory in its tonneau-cased Kalpa collection with the launch of two Kalpagraphe models that are, at least outwardly, as different as night and day. For gentlemen, the manufacture offers a model in black ADLC-coated steel, in two gray sapphire dial executions. For ladies, it’s a piece in rose gold with a white sapphire dial, one with a diamond setting.”

The article also reported that the case has a non-reflective sapphire crystal over the dial and uses another for the exhibition case back, and uses either rose gold or steel (depending on the model) for its crown, chronograph pushers, and dial details. The dial is also made of sapphire to provide a shaded glimpse into the watch’s inner workings.

The polished, rose-gold case of the new ladies’ Kalpagraphe or Kalpagraphe Blanc has the same substantial dimensions as the men’s models, the same sapphire panes over the front and back of the case, and the same distinctive dial layout.

The dial is made of a white-tinted sapphire, and features hands, indices, and other details in rose gold. One of the two models has its case set with 444 diamonds (3.129 ct). The dials’ pearly white tones is echoed in the integrated white rubber strap, which fastens to the wrist with an 18k gold pin buckle.

The men’s Kalpagraphe models are both limited to 99 pieces and shown by the individual engravings on their case backs. The Steel ADLC version is priced at $15,800, the Steel ADLC with rose gold model at $17,600. The ladies’ rose-gold Kalpagraph is unlimited and priced at $35,200, while the diamond-set variation is limited to just 10 pieces, for $46,000.

According to a July 2016 interview Michael Parmigiani gave to the World Tempus website, he thinks it is a necessary and vital element for the brand to have his family remain involved for the foreseeable future.

“{M]y eldest daughter is in charge of special projects at the brand. She is a watchmaker and she is already actively involved in the company. I think it’s important that there is a representative of the family at the company.”

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