Parmigiani as a manufacture
By Peter Chong for Parmigiani
Parmigiani Fleurier is a true and fully independent manufacture. In today's high end horology marketplace, this puts it at a very strong and significant advantage. Many brands buy components and assemble the watches, some even complete movements, and yet others even purchase fullly made watches from suppliers within the industry. But one distinctive feature of Parmigiani is that it is fully capable to produce and manufacture all components on its own.
What is a manufacture, and why is it important?
A manufacture is ascribed to a brand with its own manufacturing capability. This is usually taken to mean one with its own resources to design, do prototyping, and manufacture the major components of the watch in its own facilities. Typically, this still means a manufacture sources many of the components of making a watch from its suppliers. This is because a watch is a complex mechanical object. And manufacturing one requires many different industrial specialities. From making screws, and small parts to finishing them. From making the case, dial, hands and the movement parts. And finally assembling the components into a watch.
Buying a watch from a manufacture is important, as it ensures that the product is unique to the brand, and not an assemblage of parts raided from a supplier's stock. It ensures exclusivity. And is the true hallmark of a luxury product.
Most brands within the industry label themselves as manufacture, but they only concerned themselves in the watchmaking part...designing, assembling the movements and watches. These brands source components like screws, dials, cases, hands, and even movement parts from suppliers.
Parmigiani as a Manufacture
But at Parmigiani, it goes beyond that. Desiring to be a truly independent manufacture, it began to form itself into a group of 5 companies which ply 5 different but supporting trades to support the watchmaking activities of Parmigiani Fleurier. Collectively, these 5 companies form Manufactures Horologes de la Foundation (MHF). The 5 companies within MHF are like the fingers on a hand, at the palm (core) is the PF manufacture, which is watchmaking heart of the company. The 5 supporting companies are:
- Elwin who specialize in bar turnings for watchmaking. Components like pinons, balance staff, screws are made in this facility
- Atokalpa who manufactures hairsprings, mainsprings, geartrains, pinions and microgears. Its tasks also include the finishing of some parts made by Elwin
- Les Artisans Boîtiers (LAB) who specializes in casemaking
- Quadrance et Habillage who makes the dials
- Manufacture Vaucher who makes movement ebauches, and movements
These 5 manufactures were created to support the watchmaking activities at Parmigiani Fleurier. And safe for enamel dials and hands, make Parmigiani Fleurier truly independent of the industry's suppliers. This indepedence has allowed Parmigiani Fleurier, the key to be creative.
As Parmigiani Fleurier's production is limited, excess capacity is available to serve the rest of the watchmaking industry, and these 5 companies actually suppply to many of the large and famous watch brands.
Over the course of the next articles, I will delve deeper into each of these 5 companies to showcase how they support Parmigiani Fleurier as well as many of the major luxury brands in the watchmaking industry.