Some brands create a deep impression in a very short time; Parmigiani for instance. Founded by Michel Parmigiani, in Fleurier, Switzerland, in 1996, this independent production house has been transformed from a restoration workshop into a modern watch making company, heavily responsible for the future of the trade. Built on one powerful conviction of watch restoration, Parmigiani is spreading its sweet fragrance worldover and one things for sure; you will be seeing a lot more of their collections in Australia.
The world of watchmaking and art coincided in the first press event held by Parmigiani Fleurier in Sydney, on August 25, at ECQ Bar, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. Hosted by Parmigiani Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Wei Shan; and General Manager of The Hour Glass, Lidia Emmi, the evening illustrated the brand’s values through a partnership with graffiti artist (Numskull).
An apt choice for a brand that has always partnered with contemporary art forms!
Fascinated by the manufacture’s processes and attention to detail in producing watch parts, Numskull presented his interpretation of the brand’s “made to measure” spirit through his artwork showing each had their own personality. Though each watch component is hand crafted and is different, each is a part of a larger whole, that is represented by the red and blue used in the artwork, which ties each piece together as one cohesive concept.
During her recent visit to Sydney, we had the opportunity to catch up with Wei Shan, Parmigiani Fleurier, Managing Director, Asia Pacific…
What makes Parmigiani unique?
Parmigiani is based on two fundamental pillars, restoration and manufacturing independence. Born in 1950 in Couvet, Switzerland, Michel Parmigiani was attracted to the world of watch craftsmanship from a very young age. He went to a watchmaking school in Fleurier, and graduated in 1974, during what is now known as the quartz crisis. Inexpensive quartz watches from Japan were overwhelming the Swiss industry which caused tens of thousands of jobs to be cut. During the crisis, Michel Parmigiani decided to open his own workshop in Couvet in 1976 and continued down the path of traditional watchmaking, against the advice of many.
Over the years, Pierre Landolt, chairman of the Sandoz Family Foundation, recognized Michel’s unrivalled talent as a watchmaker and pushed him to step out from his little workshop and start something bigger in watchmaking: to create his own brand and realise his aspirations as a watchmaker to the fullest. In 1996, the Parmigiani Fleurier brand is born. Michel and the Sandoz Family Foundation also believed in manufacturing their own components as there is an element of quality control, independence and authenticity. This ensures that there is no compromise on the integrity of the design of each timepiece. As we manufacture nearly all our components inhouse, we can produce unique pieces and have more freedom to design timepieces that show great workmanship.
A little known fact is that Parmigiani has a workshop that specializes in restoration of automatons and timepieces. Michel’s access and expertise in restoration is a major source of inspiration to creating modern works of high-end watchmaking. Thanks to the vertical manufacturing capabilities and Michel Parmigiani’s restoration expertise, Parmigiani has earned high level of credibility in the industry although it is still young as a brand.
At the SIHH earlier this year, you introduced the Tonda Métrographe (for men) and Tonda Métropolitaine (for women) which has a very different price point than what we would otherwise see with the brand. It seems that you are trying to engage a younger audience…
We have definitely received very good feedback and response to the new Métro collection. This collection has been something that we have been working on for a few years and I think that the design is right on the cusp of being modern and classic at the same time – that might be one of the reasons why the collection attracts a younger audience. Each piece from the Métro collection is easy to wear with any lifestyle and is a combination of function and elegance.
What about the design?
Both ranges were designed to be a pair, yet there are different details on the case of both the Tonda Métrographe and Tonda Métropolitaine. The former has a chronograph function, and bold indices while the latter has an attractive “flinqué” dial with snailed seconds sub-dial. It was surprising to many that we designed new calibres for each range. There is a lot of value and integrity in the timepieces although the price positioning is more accessible compared to other collections from Parmigiani.
Any plans for a chronograph for women..
Parmigiani has always designed women’s timepieces with complications. All the ladies’ timepieces in the Pershing collection are with chronograph functions. We take a similar approach in designing ladies and men’s timepieces – each will have its own personality and integrity.
Parmigiani Fleurier And Bugatti this year celebrate their Ten Year Anniversary. Could you tell us a little about this association…
Our Bugatti timepieces are very distinctive. When the Bugatti Type 370 was first released in 2004, it was revolutionary and was a new approach to watchmaking. All the mechanical components were on a vertical axis. The second-generation collection, Bugatti Super Sport was also successful – although it is similar to the Bugatti Type 370 with a dial that enables a driver to check the time without having to turn their wrist, it is the world’s first movement that has a mechanism that allows for the time to be displayed perpendicular to the movement, at a 90 degree angle. Bugatti themselves were very selective when they were looking for a watchmaking partner. They wanted a partner that had the same values as their brand and that was very exclusive. Michel Parmigiani met them, came out with a proposal and from then on, it has been a successful association for both brands. We are now working and conceptualizing on the third generation of Bugatti timepieces.
Australia is a market in which lifestyle heavily influences purchase decisions. Practicality and design are two factors that most people think about when purchasing clothes, cars and watches. This is why sports watches and classic dress watches are popular.
For Swiss luxury timepieces in particular, we see a potential for this market. Slowly but surely, more people now know about highend watchmaking and identify the quality of good workmanship. Customer education has increased and with a brand like
Parmigiani, the great opportunity is that most people do not know who we are, and there is so much potential to grow. That’s why it is important for us to have a strong retail partner in a new market.