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Inside The Manufacture: Two Days With Parmigiani Fleurier (And Some Thoughts On What ‘In-House’ Really Means)

When we talk about fine watchmaking, the words “in-house” and “production” perpetually come up. We use them to portray how vertically incorporated a company is – at the end of the day how much of a watch is really made by the company whose name is on the dial, instead of purchased from outside providers. Numerous a watch fellow will say that, all the other things being equal, the more in-house the better. When pondering high levels of vertical reconciliation in the watch business, the two brands at the actual top of the stepping stool are Rolex and Seiko . However, seemingly only one bar down on that stepping stool is Parmigiani Fleurier . HODINKEE went on an outing to the excellent town of Fleurier in Switzerland’s Val-de-Travers to learn more.

Fleurier, Val-de-Travers


Parmigiani Fleurier’s namesake, Michel Parmigiani, is a world-renowned horological reclamation subject matter expert. He got his beginning in rebuilding work during the quartz emergency of the 1970s, when the fate of mechanical watchmaking was looking exceptionally somber. Parmigiani zeroed in on practice while the remainder of the business was looking elsewhere, becoming well known in the little world of antiquarian horological rebuilding. It was through his reclamation work that he met the Sandoz family, who own perhaps the main assortments of pocket watches and automatons in the world – the Collection Edouard Marcel Sandoz.

Michel Parmigiani outside a school he went to in Fleurier

Michel Parmigiani turned into the overseer for the Sandoz assortment, however that was only the beginning. The Sandoz Family Foundation and Parmigiani before long consented to establish a new watchmaking company that would be established in customary reclamation techniques, while additionally planning ahead for mechanical watchmaking. That company is Parmigiani Fleurier which was established in 1996, and very quickly the interaction of vertical combination began. Today, the Sandoz Family Foundation owns Parmigiani Fleurier, yet in addition Manufactures Horlogères de La Foundation which is comprised of five specific makes of watch parts: 

Vaucher – developments Atokalpa – balance wheels and hairsprings Elwin – miniature parts like pinions and screws Les Artisans Boitiers – cases Quadrance et Habillage – dials

To split hairs, Parmigiani Fleurier itself doesn’t own the five produces, the Sandoz Family Foundation does through Manufactures Horlogères de La Foundation. However, the Sandoz Family Foundation additionally owns Parmigiani Fleurier, making them all sister companies. Therefore, the explanation that Parmigiani is apparently only one bar down the verticalization stepping stool from Rolex and Seiko. (To additional split hairs, 25% of Vaucher was acquired by Hermès back in 2006.) 

Movement of the Fleur D’Orient table clock, 1996

With this serious level of vertical combination, it is simpler to portray what is re-appropriated instead of what is made in-house. With a Parmigiani Fleurier watch, the solitary parts not made by Parmigiani Fleurier or its sister companies are the origin, rubies, sapphire gems, wristband, and lash (Parmigiani Fleurier ties are made by Hermès.)

Reclamation Workshop

We began our encounter with a visit through the reclamation workshop at Parmigiani Fleurier, with Michel Parmigiani himself. Going to this workshop resembled returning as expected. It was inconceivable to see such countless truly huge watches and automata reestablished to consummate working condition.

The unique pantograph watch from the mid 1800s

Inside dust-front of the first pantograph watch

Movement of the first pantograph watch

Parmigiani Fleurier Ovale Pantographe

Significant motivation is drawn from the reclamation workshop in growing new watches for Parmigiani Fleurier. A perfect representation of this is the Ovale Pantographe, an oval molded watch highlighting adaptive hands that grow and agreement to follow the oval formed case over the long haul. Parmigiani showed us the first Vardon and Stedman pocket watch from the mid 1800s that roused the advanced Ovale Pantographe . Incidentally, the motivation was much something other than stylish. The antique pocket watch was dismantled and investigated to gain from the first mechanism.

Perrin Frères pocket watch with wandering hours

Perrin Frères pocket watch development, notice the snake gongs

Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Capitole

The subject of motivation from reclamation proceeded with an exquisite continuing wandering hour pocket watch with spotted snake gongs by Perrin Frères. In a cutting edge translation, Parmigiani Fleurier presented the Toric Capitole. Furthermore, indeed, the moment repeater gongs in the Toric Capitole are spotted snakes, much the same as the first Perrin Frères.

Automata birdcage

Automata birdcage

Perfume compartment/pocket watch/music box

Perfume compartment/pocket watch/music box

Perfume compartment/pocket watch/music box

The reclamation workshop was loaded with much more horological treasures. Swinging from the roof was an automaton birdcage, complete with waterfall and working clock on the base. Equally amazing was an aroma compartment that housed both a pocket watch and a music box. Two inquisitive weight-driven tickers were on the benches; rather than an ordinary clock which has weights, the slow plunge of which gives the power source to the clockwork, here the actual clock was the weight that dives over the long run. One plummeted down a vertical presentation, while the other moved down a slanted showcase remain throughout the span of a week. While getting a visit through the rebuilding workshop from Michel Parmigiani, it turned out to be clear how enthusiastic he is tied in with saving these astonishing machines, and furthermore how these watches of the past are a steady wellspring of motivation for the company today.

Weight-driven clock

Gravity-driven clock

Vaucher Manufacture

By Kiran Shekar

Just down the street from Parmigiani Fleurier headquarters is the great Vaucher Manufacture building. Vaucher is a development produce, and other than the fountainhead , or the parts made by Elwin ( screws and pinions) or Atokalpa ( escapement , balance wheel , and hairspring ), they make all the other things that goes into a development, which is a great deal – think mainplates , spans , and wheels – just as playing out the development completing, and doing development designing and prototyping.

Vaucher Movement Manufacture

It is fascinating to take note of that while all of Parmigiani Fleurier’s mechanical watch developments are made by Vaucher, Vaucher doesn’t work solely for Parmigiani Fleurier. Vaucher’s creation limit surpasses the requirements of Parmigiani Fleurier (which presently makes around 5000 watches each year), so they have numerous different customers in the watchmaking business. A portion of these connections are public ( Richard Mille , Peter Speake-Marin , and obviously Hermés), while different customers are kept confidential.

CNC machines at Vaucher

Automatic jewel setting machine

Vintage stamping machine

Endless supply of CNC machines fill the ground floor. Automatic jewel setting machines were captivating to see, this errand, which is exceptionally dreary and very tedious whenever done physically, was done to many a mainplate with a significant degree of exactness and speed. A different room is committed to stamping activities; a blend of new and old stamping machines fulfill the requirement for automation during certain means, and manual tweaking during others.

Barrel torque testing device

Impact tester

The research and advancement division higher up was both fun and disappointing simultaneously. Justifiably, a great deal of activities in this office were a lot of top mystery, and couldn’t be captured or even taken a gander at. (Heaps of dark fabric over workbenches!) We had the chance to see their presentation testing machines, including a gadget that deliberate barrel torque yield, and an effect analyzer, however naturally, future undertakings are especially under wraps.

Haute Horlogerie

We finished our visit in the Haute Horlogerie office, watching the Parmigiani Fleurier ace watchmakers as they dismantled a Type 370 development. It was an extraordinary chance to truly see and comprehend this interesting development. In 2004, Parmigiani Fleurier presented the notable Bugatti Type 370 watch. Named after the renowned vehicle maker, the Bugatti Type 370 highlights a transitionally mounted development that looks like a motor. The development even uses rushes rather than strung openings, to additional the automotive theme. It truly is an interesting interpretation of development architecture; to make the development outwardly engaging when taking a gander at it from the side, the wheels are stacked upon each other with a progression of plates. Obviously, this makes working on the development extremely challenging, in any event, requiring custom tools.

Bugatti Type 370 movement

Bugatti Type 370 movement

Hopefully this virtual visit has given you a capable of what Parmigiani Fleurier is about. During our visit, something that struck us the most is that everybody we met at Parmigiani Fleurier appears to have love and regard for their company. The inclination was that, despite the fact that their company probably won’t be too known as some others, they were doing things the correct way and making an incredible item and that gave the representatives a genuine feeling of pride. One thing we trust is a digit more clear from our report, is what it really takes to make a development “in-house.”  To truly make by far most of a watch, incorporating the whole development with its escapement, equilibrium, and spring, requires a totally colossal interest in some incredibly, costly and modern machinery, for assembling as well as for quality control. This is the (awesome) reason that cases of in-house fabricating status should be assessed fundamentally, just as cases of provenance of production, and it’s the explanation quite really that generally few watch brands can or should make the case.

We are eager to perceive what is next for this inventive brand, and dependent on certain clues we got during our excursion, it would seem that they will reveal some energizing new things at SIHH 2016. We’re anticipating imparting the work of Parmigiani Fleurier to you in January.

Parmigiani Fleurier Haute Horlogerie workshop

Balance cockerel, hairspring and equilibrium wheel

Interesting talked design

Part of the stuff train

Disassembly in process

Type 370 development, disassembled