The path from restoration to luxury Haute Horlogerie
« I embarked on my entrepreneurial adventure in 1976, when the quartz crisis was ravaging the watchmaking industry. I remember feeling a bit like a pariah, starting this adventure against all advice. Restoring antique timepieces saved me from nihilism. Working, as I was during this period, on so many wonders from times gone by, made the idea that traditional watchmaking might disappear absolutely unthinkable to me. Restoration gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my watchmaking dreams, despite the naysayers. I have faith in the traditional watchmaker's art; it is the cornerstone of Parmigiani Fleurier and has been the guiding force throughout my career. »
Michel Parmigiani was born on 2 December 1950 in Couvet, a small village in the Val-de-Travers, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. When the time came for him to choose a career, his heart was torn between watchmaking and architecture, two disciplines as technical as they are creative. But he was drawn to the mysteries inherent in Swiss haute horlogerie – his choice was made. After studying at the Val-de-Travers school of watchmaking then at La Chaux-de-Fonds Technicum, Michel Parmigiani went on to specialise 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 the marvels of watchmaking past, whilst devoting himself to his personal creations at night. Each work that Michel Parmigiani restored delivered up the secrets of its mechanism, enriching his technical knowledge and expertise as a watchmaker. He quickly began to make a name for himself amongst 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, whose respect and admiration for him would sow the seeds for the incredible watchmaking adventure he embarked on. In 1996, Michel Parmigiani acquired the production means and resources to create a brand that would bear his own name.
On 29 May 1996, Parmigiani Fleurier was officially launched. It is a brand which aspires to be rich not only in technical skills, but also in master craftsmanship, committed to upholding — and sometimes resurrecting — its techniques, in the region. Parmigiani Fleurier is true to the talent of its founder, who gets involved in the creation of each and every prestige watch. The brand and its fully independent manufacture remain faithful to the quest for excellence which has pervaded the career of Michel Parmigiani.