Parmigiani Fleurier's CEO is a local lad born in Le Locle and connected with watchmaking and artisan craftsmanship through several generations of his family. Since 2000 he has been working with the Sandoz Foundation, where he is delegate for watchmaking activities.
How was business last year?
We had a very busy year. Apart from anything else we completed our distribution network through our last subsidiary in Japan, which brings us to a total of 11 subsidiaries worldwide.
What are the goals for 2015?
At the best we're hoping for 5% growth. The watch industry is affected by a drop in consumption in Hong Kong, one of the biggest markets, since the problems there last November and December.
What are the stand-out pieces among your 2015 products?
The Tonda Squelette is our big new offering. It strips down the attributes and mechanism of our extra-flat model by cutting out and decorating the PF705 calibre's bridges and plates – it takes 40 hours to decorate each piece! The Toric Lépine table clock is our objet d'art: a pocket watch inside a crystal case crafted by Lalique. Lastly, the Soleil de Gaïa and Serpent
clocks developed by Parmigiani Fleurier and Lalique reflect the fusion of fine watchmaking with the best jewellery and crystal expertise.
Last year you launched the contemporary Metro collection. How was that received?
Very well. It brought us a complementary clientele of young urbanites. An ageless, universal timepiece. The Sandoz Foundation's watchmaking hub comprises several manufacturing sites: Les Artisans Boîtiers, Quadrance, Atokalpa etc. Isn't managing so many different players complicated? Having geographically scattered sites doesn't make rational working easy, but it benefits us in that it gives us a skilled workforce none of whom have been delocalised to their disadvantage.
In Fleurier and La Chaux-de-Fonds you work in a rather out-of-time environment and picturesque surroundings. How does that make one feel?
There's a unique serenity here. The staff identify with watchmaking's history and that's the key to our goal of building a genuine Haute Horlogerie manufacture. That serenity enables each person to focus on their work and do it meticulously. This in-depth connection with watchmaking's birthplace represents two of our fundamental values: authenticity and truth. We would never delocalise for reasons of marketing or prestige. Our customers know that and are grateful.
Frédéric Laffont's documentary Mesure & Démesure, filmed inside the manufacture, beautifully illustrates what happens in your mountains. Is communicating about knowhow essential?
It's vital for truth and authenticity. That film is a means of valorising all the actors essential to our product quality. It's an education and information tool that enables clients who haven't visited our workshops to understand the importance and quality of the knowhow of 50 different crafts. How do you see the future? Positively. The majority of the population still doesn't own a watch. The potential market is huge and we have an enormous capacity for development in our segment. Our aim is to continue with our manufacture project so as to be one of the most important names in excellence and all-Swiss craftsmanship.