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Parmigiani Fleurier is one of the only watch companies in the world that possesses a Restauration workshop. It’s a small activity within the brand – tiny even, when you consider its two dedicated watchmakers, the small work premises and mysterious assignments keeping it busy – but the impact of Restauration on Parmigiani Fleurier’s expertise is colossal.

Restauration, or the art of re-establishing the former glory of an artifact by setting-it free from the torments of time, was Michel Parmigiani’s initial area of expertise when he started off as an independent watchmaker. Restauration has never ceased to be the soul of the brand in the sense that it has enabled Parmigiani Fleurier to understand over 3 centuries of watchmaking that have forged our trade. Drawing knowledge from the craftsmanship of our ancestors is as humbling as it is inspiring and as opposite as they may seem, Restauration and Creation work side by side at Parmigiani Fleurier.

The Brand is opening the secluded doors of the Restauration atelier for you in this blog and tracing the rebirth a particular object: the double-barrel pistol and its songbird.

This rare automaton belonging to the Sandoz Family Foundation was conceived and created, in all likelihood circa 1815, by the famous Frères Rochat. Its design is based on a cavalry pistol; when the hammer is cocked, pulling the trigger releases a hummingbird instead of the firearm's traditional sight. The bird performs a pirouette, opens its beak, flaps its tail, turns its head and sings, before disappearing as surprisingly as it appeared.

Sadly, when it arrived in the hands of Parmigiani Fleurier’s restorers, this beautiful automaton was damaged in many respects. If the passing of time had indeed taken its toll on the mechanism, it was not the only responsible factor for this demise. Over the decades, no less than six interventions had been carried-out on the artifact, most of which were rash, faulty and had ended up distorting the artifact as a whole.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s restorers had to start from scratch, unraveling the mysteries of the mechanism one by one, patiently understanding what was authentic and what had been transformed. We are taking you through the steps of this 12-month journey from the battle-scarred pistol that was entrusted to them early 2014, to the masterpiece it once was and is again today.

Stay tuned each week for the sequel of this brilliant adventure!

The pistol before restauration
The artifact's complex mechanism
Michel Parmigiani in the restauration workshop

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