Parmigiani Fleurier’s Art of Precision

Engraving the case of the Parmigiani Fleurier La Rose Carrée

Nowhere is industrial manufacturing extra emotive and interesting to the broader world than in watchmaking. From understanding the most important suppliers similar to ETA to area of interest unbiased watchmakers similar to Roger Smith within the UK, it appears everybody desires to understand how watches are made. Of course, in relation to trying beneath the hood, because it had been, there may be not a lot level when you have no idea what to search for, however we’re getting forward of ourselves. Backtracking somewhat, stating that “everybody” desires to know in regards to the screws and bridges is a giant declare. There aren’t any research trying into the nitty gritty of watch manufacturing, and the need of the watch-loving public to study it, so far as we all know.

On the opposite hand, given the lengths by which demand for mechanical watches is outstripping provide, it is just pure that watch fans marvel about what is going on within the manufactures. If demand goes up, manufacturing ought to rise to match, and that is certainly the expectation. For this expectation to match actuality although, it’s definitely useful to understand how watch manufactures work… which is the place our invitation to go to the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture comes into the image.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro Rotor

Image: Parmigiani Fleurier

What we are able to say right here, on the subject of Parmigiani Fleurier, is that it could produce watches completely with inner assets and know-how. To be completely clear about it, the next are the one issues Parmigiani Fleurier sources from exterior suppliers — sapphire crystals, artificial rubies, leather-based straps (from Hermès, famously), bracelets and mainsprings. If you’re a common reader, you may recognise that listing from our Parmigiani Fleurier story early final 12 months.

Having already delved into the workings of Parmigiani Fleurier again then, we thought we’d full that image by really visiting the Fleurier and La Chaux-de-Fonds services that make up the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre. But wait, why are Parmigiani Fleurier watches made in La Chaux-de-Fonds within the first place, and what’s this Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre? And thus the complexity begins, and by studying this maybe you’ll higher perceive why the Tonda PF — launched simply final 12 months — stays such a troublesome get.

As a fast apart right here, as a result of we is not going to dwell on it, however the sharp-eyed amongst you should have taken observe that the completely superb Tonda PF bracelet doesn’t come from Parmigiani Fleurier. That stunned us once we recalled it within the aftermath of the discharge of the Tonda PF (the tl;dr on this assortment is that does sports activities luxurious on the highest degree). The model has a provider for the bracelet, one which (presumably) labored on the same however completely completely different Tonda GT bracelet. While Parmigiani Fleurier has not revealed who makes the bracelets, CEO Guido Terreni instructed us that he particularly needed the design evolution on the PF bracelet, slightly than the identical Tonda GT bracelet, together with the particular particulars about the way it matches and the way it appears.

The picturesque settings of watch manufactures look nothing like modern industrial zones.

This squares properly with Terreni’s previous assertion that making the screws in-house will not be that spectacular, in contrast with really making the watch, or certainly with the ability to restore an vintage timepiece. Parmigiani Fleurier is, in spite of everything, a watchmaker, not a producer of watchmaking motion screws. This paragraph will stand as a counterpoint to the argument that vertical integration is the reply to all the pieces. This is particularly necessary right here as a result of the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre does certainly produce its personal screws. It can also be necessary as a result of founder Michel Parmigiani lower his enamel on watch restoration, and it’s the cause Parmigiani Fleurier and the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre exist.

Underscoring this are the photographs of the in-house restoration of the Parmigiani Fleurier La Rose Carrée. As we famous in our story on on this, the pocket watch took 12 months to finish… or 25 years… or 100 years… or possibly greater than 500 years. La Rose Carrée is the actual cause Parmigiani Fleurier is included in our Legacy concern. It speaks to the intent of Parmigiani Fleurier to protect and advance the craft of watchmaking. This is strictly why Terreni speaks in glowing phrases of Michel Parmigiani’s “black belt in watchmaking,” as a result of that’s how he sees the artwork of restoration. Indeed, that is the very cause the Sandoz Family Foundation financed the creation of the Parmigiani Fleurier model and all the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre.

To full the image, it is best to recall that Parmigiani Fleurier’s manufacturing services prolong past the 2 areas talked about, simply as its experience goes past the making of economic items. We didn’t get to go to escapement-maker Atokalpa and high-precision micromechanics firm Elwin this time, though we did briefly get acquainted with the restoration atelier in Fleurier itself earlier than we needed to scamper off for our interview with Terreni. Fortunately, now we have realized sufficient about all of the manufacturing services through the years that we are able to present a short introduction.

The cause for moving into all of this, and drawing a comparability between the disparate worlds of the Tonda PF and La Rose Carrée is for instance the watchmaking philosophy of Parmigiani Fleurier. It is a extra poetic, and visually pleasing, means of understanding how the modern and conventional can each coexist and help one another.

On that observe, La Rose Carrée is a collaborative work, with a Louis-Elisée Piguet grand sonnerie and minute repeater motion (made between 1898 and 1904) that was acquired by Michel Parmigiani within the late Nineteen Nineties. A Parmigiani Fleurier restoration crew went to work on this motion, alongside the technicians at LAB but additionally outdoors specialists similar to dial-maker LM Cadrans and chain-maker Laurent Jolliet. The involvement of an out of doors dial-maker is intriguing however Quadrance & Habillage was most likely busy with the oversubscribed Tonda PF, or was maybe unfamiliar with the onyx dial of the pocket watch.

With the Tonda PF, the scenario was fairly completely different in fact. Indeed, the gathering was developed in document time, debuting in lower than a 12 months after Terreni took over as CEO. Such fast improvement is solely unimaginable at most manufactures, but Terreni felt it was possible at Parmigiani Fleurier as a result of all the pieces wanted to create the gathering already existed. That, in a number of phrases, is strictly how spectacular this Watchmaking Centre is.

While some watch manufacturers can current sizable company places of work, and maybe even fantastically restored chateaus, these are sometimes simply a lot window dressing. Whatever else occurs in these areas, watchmaking is ceaselessly peripheral. Not so at Parmigiani Fleurier, the place all the system of etablissage that characterises conventional Swiss watchmaking has been assembled from the bottom up in some circumstances. There are a number of elements to the watchmaking hub right here, and they don’t seem to be owned by Parmigiani Fleurier, per se. Instead, all are owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation, together with the watchmaking model. The numerous elements of the Fleurier watchmaking hub are damaged down as follows:


Bar turning is what this agency is finest identified for, which is a course of of constructing parts out of metallic bars by machining them as they rotate. Elwin occurs to make its personal CNC equipment, which demonstrates the extent of its mastery. It additionally develops its personal specialised software program. Interestingly, this small firm of simply 20 makes every worker accountable for his or her personal manufacturing course of, a lot as one watchmaker handles his total course of. The agency produces screws, pinions, spindles and wheels.


This superb agency does what few others can: produce the parts of the escapement. These are the escape wheel, the pallet fork, the stability wheel and the stability spring. According to Parmigiani Fleurier, Atokalpa performs such processes as stamping, slicing, bar turning, and forming enamel on computer-numericalcontrolled machines (generally known as CNC) with a precision of as much as 0.001mm. Finishing processes, each structural and aesthetic, are additionally carried out on the aforementioned escapement parts (the place related) right here. In phrases of aesthetics, these processes embody snailing, round graining, sharpening and bevelling. Every part that requires ending receives consideration, which is a nigh-unbelievable consideration to element. In most different watchmaking corporations, all of this work is completed off-site. The Swatch Group agency ETA does all of this for innumerable manufacturers.

Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF)

Michel Parmigiani instructed Revolution in 2013 that to ensure that Parmigiani Fleurier to totally utilise the capability of Vaucher, it must make between 20,000 and 25,000 actions, and that that is unlikely to occur. In order to optimise the manufacture’s potential, it provides different events, regardless that it was constructed to provide Parmigiani Fleurier. The most well-known of those outdoors corporations is Hermès in fact, with the luxurious agency proudly owning 25 per cent of Vaucher, and Richard Mille.

Bridges and plates are made right here, and actions are assembled. Finishing, together with handfinishing, additionally occurs in its workshops. There is a hightech facet right here too, with a analysis and improvement division that handles all of the watchmaking innovation. The technical drawings of all actions emerge from this division, specifying all operations to be carried out. If Michel is the spirit of Parmigiani Fleurier, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is its central nervous system.

Quadrance & Habillage

A specialist within the making of watch dials, this agency has mastered guillochage, sandblasting, satin-finishing, snailing, eparnage and graining, amongst others. Since 2017, Parmigiani Fleurier has been touting the white grained end on its dial, and this can be a method Quadrance & Habillage has mastered. Basically, the white grained impact is produced by rubbing silver powder onto a brass plate utilizing a horsehair brush. Needless to say, it’s a labour-intensive job that should be executed by hand and requires absolutely the focus of a extremely expert artisan.

Les Artisans Boitiers (LAB)

As the title suggests, that is the casemaking outfit of Parmigiani Fleurier. Water-resistance and structural integrity of the watches are ensured right here. While CAD and CNC machining are the meat-and-drink of LAB, the corporate can also be capable of produce circumstances completely by hand, utilizing conventional instruments. This is in fact the place the extraordinary 64mm white gold case, with double hunter construction, of La Rose Carrée was fashioned. Engraver Eddy Jaquet created a Rose Carrée motif for each covers. As you’ll be able to see, the roses are sq., which is reportedly a reference to the shape rose petals take once they begin to wither. Handworked to the nth diploma, the covers are additionally awash in blue.

“The blue of La Rose Carrée expresses the color of a physique of water as one would see it from the sky – with all of the nuances and delicate adjustments within the shades of blue in response to the varied depths,” mentioned Michel. Deceptively easy trying in footage, there are literally 4 layers of blue grand feu enamel, utilized by inventive enameller Vanessa Lecci. It is price making an allowance for that each the engraving and the enamelling seem the identical on each covers, which is a really spectacular feat.

Beyond that, all Parmigiani Fleurier case middles obtain hand-polishing consideration, which is tough to fathom. It is price noting that the experience of each LAB and Quadrance & Habillage are utilized by not less than 18 well-known names in watchmaking.

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