Michel Parmigiani, originally specialised in watch restoration, opened his own workshop in Couvet during the time of the quartz crisis, a daring leap of faith some may say. "Mesure et art du temps" restored watches during the late 70s and enabled Michael Parmigiani to forge his own reputation as a recognisable and reliable artisan in his area of expertise. He began restoring clocks from the Collection Edouard and Maurice Sandoz when he began carrying out work for the Sandoz Family Foundation in 1980. It was not, however, until 1996 that Parmigiani Fleurier (Michel Parmigiani’s own independent business) opened its doors in Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne.
Parmigiani Fleurier’s first wristwatch was born a year later. The alternating gadroons and knurling of the distinctive Toric QP Retrograde watch would become a signature hallmark of many timepieces to come by Parmigiani. The volumes, proportions and shapes of the case echoed the look of the “tonneau” shaped case. In 2000 Parmigiani Fleurier became a fully independent, vertical manufacture. Les Artisans Boîtiers became the name of one hub of expert craftsmanship in particular, which the Sandoz Family Foundation acquired in the year 2000. The facilities would enable Parmigiani Fleurier to create some exceptionally complex and technical watch cases.
The Parmigiani Fleurier watchmaking centre called Atokalpa was opened in 2001 enabling the brand to create its own trains, pinions and micro-gears. Having researched how to develop the regulating organ of a watch, as well as components such as the balance and its balance-spring, the pallet fork and the escapement wheel, Parmigiani Fleurier began disclosing the secrets of its production alongside Elkin, a precision bar turning specialist. Together the collaboration meant that the screws, pinions, balance staffs and wheels of a watch were supplied by Elkin and the two companies could consolidate their strengths within the field of watch component manufacture.
The Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier was created in 2003 which specialised in high end watchmaking. This form of artisan production enabled every Parmigiani Fleurier watch to be decorated and hand finished to exacting standards. With its own research and development department, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier was able to develop a range of reliable calibres. The Bugatti Type 370 was released in 2004 as part of a collaborative effort between Parmigiani Fleurier and Bugatti. Inspired by the construction of a car engine, the timepiece inspired Michel Parmigiani to partner up with Bovet Fleurier and Chopard Manufacture shortly afterwards to create the Fleurier Quality Foundation, a certification process responsible for upholding stringent watchmaking standards.
Dial engraving, decoration, guilloche work and galvanoplasty became the focus for Parmigiani Fleurier in 2005 when it completed the creation of Quadrance et Habillage. The facilities specialised in manufacturing high end dials. The Tonda Hémisphères watch was unveiled in 2007, equipped with a dual time function. Each zone was adjustable to the nearest minute. The Tonda 42 Tourbillon, equipped with a 30-second tourbillon followed a year later, along with the Bugatti Super Sport the year after that, a shining example from the fully verticalized watchmaking centre.
The Ovale Pantographe was launched by Parmigiani Fleurier in 2014, complete with distinct telescopic hands followed by the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon in 2015. It was notable for being the world’s thinnest flying tourbillon. Following on from its partnership with Bugatti, in 2017 the Bugatti Type 390 launched with a unique dial design and four pending patents. The watch joins a long line of wristwatches that continue to impress collectors, all fully fledged from Parmigiani Fleurier’s esteemed independent watchmaking centre.