There is something magical about the manufacture of time. Producing the inanimate components and assembling them to create perpetual movement is like breathing life into lifeless material; it is the creation of a pulse that will never stop beating.
Since 1996, the Sandoz Family Foundation has been developing a Watchmaking Centre based around the Parmigiani Fleurier brand. This centre of expertise for industrial craftsmanship encompasses all the skills required to create a timepiece, producing everything from the balance-spring and the train wheel to the case and dial; each link is brought together to form a verticalised, independent manufacture, where unbridled creativity and optimal quality go hand in hand.
The five business divisions which form the Watchmaking Centre are first and foremost dedicated to our sister brand, Parmigiani Fleurier, but also make their skills and products available to selected high-end watchmakers. In the spirit of innovation, flawless production quality and the respect of Swiss industrial tradition, each of these divisions breathes new life into the watchmaking expertise which is our heritage, day after day.
atokalpa – Alle, December 2000
Les Artisans Boîtiers – La Chaux-de-Fonds, May 2000
Elwin – Moutier, January 2001
Vaucher Manufacture – Fleurier, 2003
Quadrance & Habillage – La Chaux-de-Fonds, December 2005
Parmigiani Fleurier – named after its founder Michel Parmigiani – was created in Val de Travers in 1996 and has based its values on authentic Haute Horlogerie ever since. Thanks to the Sandoz Family Foundation industrial watchmaking centre, which primarily serves Parmigiani Fleurier, in the space of a few years the brand has gained a unique credibility in the history of modern watchmaking. Parmigiani Fleurier is built on strict devotion to the highest aesthetic and mechanical quality, and on its expertise in watchmaking and mastery of mechanical grand complications. By remaining faithful to its founding values, such as the restoration of masterpieces of the watchmaker’s art, it is one of the few firms to preserve an image of authenticity in the eyes of the public. That is why, even today, at Parmigiani Fleurier, a restoration workshop is dedicated exclusively to restoring objets d’art from past centuries. This provides a source of inspiration and knowledge for its neighbouring Haute Horlogerie workshop, where cutting edge watchmakers assemble exceptional mechanical complications from the Parmigiani Fleurier collection, often over several months.
Beyond that now undisputed ability to celebrate the watchmaker’s art every day, it is certainly Parmigiani Fleurier’s talent for showing this art to its best advantage in a modern way that sets the brand apart. Being an independent company, Parmigiani Fleurier has been able to invent its own style. Whether they feature simple or grand complications, Parmigiani's collections are instantly recognisable thanks to their unique stylistic motifs. An extensive range of men’s and women’s collections, all equipped with the 21 house calibres, are the basis of the brand’s success today. The Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture strives on a daily basis to ensure that the brand's watchmaking dreams become reality.
Parmigiani Fleurier | Rue du Temple 11
CH-2114 Fleurier | +41 32 862 66 30
www.parmigiani.ch | info(at)parmigiani.ch
CEO, Guido Terreni & 150 staff
In December 2005, Quadrance et Habillage was founded and incorporated into the industrial structure in order to achieve self-sufficiency in production and enhance the hub’s essential creativity. The dials are the faces of a watch, and an expression of the brand. Neutral or smiling, Roman or Arabic, eye-catching or understated, there is no end to the possibilities, but perfection is always essential. Each dial made here has a unique imprint linked to the identity codes of the brand for which it is made, in particular Parmigiani Fleurier.
The luxury watch dial is a true work of art. Its base, machined by a numerically controlled machine at the Quadrance site, can be left plain or feature guilloché work. This is followed by the surface treatment operations and the colouring process, after which the entire assembly is protected by colourless or tinted varnish. Finally, the master dial-maker transfers the indications and applies the appliqués. Step by step, he creates a tailor-made design for each piece and adorns it with finishes of an exceptional quality.
When it was acquired by the Sandoz Family Foundation in May 2000, the company, located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, was already the hub of the most prestigious expertise in high-end watch case manufacture. Since it was incorporated into the Watchmaking Centre, Les Artisans Boîtiers SA has been able to use the skills of its master craftsmen, acquired over many years, and its cutting- edge production technology to benefit the Parmigiani Fleurier brand and all of their customers.
Through this partnership, the company is now able to manufacture cases of any complexity, material or shape, no matter how original. The most imaginative creations can now take form within these walls, where the entire production process is expertly handled.
Each watch case starts its journey in the design office, where it is developed using 3D software (CAD), then machined on the very latest numerically controlled machines (CNC) which offer a large amount of flexibility in terms of choice of operating mode. Then, the craftsman takes over from technology to give each piece its unique character, finished by hand in a way no industrial machine can ever replicate. He solders, files and adds the finishing touches to create an aesthetically harmonious case, on a par with the technical complexity housed within.
Created in 2003, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is the watchmaking centre's engineering powerhouse. It produces high-quality manual and automatic mechanical movements and additional modules, and provides a very wide range of products to many Haute Horlogerie brands. Its industrial plant is the successor of the watchmaking tradition, as illustrated by its CNC machining, cutting and stamping activities, its large mechanical workshop and several workshops for watch pre-assembly, assembly and adjustment, where the work is started before being carried on by its sister companies. The traditional processes of the craftsmen are omnipresent, the driving force behind the industrial movement in its entirety.
Each of the calibres produced by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is given a surface finish of an exceptional quality, using diverse operations such as the decoration and hand bevelling of all components, thereby demonstrating its cultural roots in authentic high-end watchmaking. On the other hand, a constant desire to innovate drives the Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier's Research and Development Department to invent new calibres in order to build an increasingly comprehensive and impressive range of products.
Since 2013, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier has developed a new entity: Vaucher Private Label. This enables it to open up its expertise to talented watchmakers and brands producing small volumes, by allowing them to procure movements, dials, cases and finished products from a minimum order of 25 movements. These watchmakers benefit from the experience and reputation of the manufacture, and can mine its independent network of skills to create their pieces. What is most important to Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is that authentic watchmaking traditions are always brought to the fore – both within its walls and beyond.
In December 2000, when the Sandoz Family Foundation acquired MBBS and renamed it atokalpa, the company, based in the Jura town of Alle, already specialised in the production of traditional gears for watch movements. The 20 different roles carried out there enabled all the components of a watch gear to be expertly produced, using machines as diverse as a bar turner and a laser machine. Since then, the strategy has evolved to encompass the manufacture of an even greater range of high-end components.
By 2006, atokalpa was able to produce all the elements required to assemble an oscillator; a total of around twenty additional components, including the spring balance, pallet fork and escapement train wheel. The company then entered the hallowed circle of watchmakers able to master the complete, extremely complex manufacture of the regulating organ.
atokalpa also has an in-house department constructing machines for its own use, enabling it to explore an increasing number of innovative procedures and continuously increase its expertise.
The work is incredibly painstaking, requiring perfection in every single operation to ensure it meets the quality requirements of the famed Hallmark of Geneva, as demanding as atokalpa's prestigious customers.
When Elwin was incorporated into the Sandoz Family Foundation Watchmaking Centre in January 2001, the company was already a respected supplier in Moutier, in the canton of Berne. It specialised in bar turning and the production of specific components, often complicated, which it processed using high-precision micro-mechanics – the watchword for its sector of activity.
Elwin is also renowned for its skills in the construction of numerically controlled bar turning machines, and the development of the software programs to use with them. These two axes – both the creation of machines and their subsequent use for bar turning – give Elwin a potential for innovation unrivalled in the production methods sector, and guarantee it an exceptional level of expertise. This is demonstrated by the fact that Elwin has developed a revolutionary new turning machine, designed specifically for the watchmaking world and its need for accuracy down to infinitesimally small dimensions. Humard Automation SA, based in Delémont, has taken over the manufacture and sales of this new product, christened the DH7.