Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier
Fittingly, the most vital steps in the construction of a Parmigiani watch, the assembly and adjustment of its caliber and that caliber’s final casing into its precious shell, take place in Fleurier, at Vaucher Manufacture. Created as the engineering nerve center for the Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre, it has achieved industry-wide renown for the craftsmanship of its movements despite only being founded in 2003. The Vaucher name and tradition, however, goes back to the 18th century, when the Vaucher family gained renown as the first small-scale watchmaker in the Swiss village of Fleurier, training many apprentices in the horological arts, including Ferdinand Berthoud, who with England’s John Harrison would become one of the fathers of modern chronometry.
Now delivering haute horlogerie movements for an array of watchmaking clients — notably Hermès, a partner of Parmigiani Fleurier that also provides the brand with its luxurious leather straps — Vaucher is first and foremost the incubator of Parmigiani calibers and Parmigiani is the only watchmaker to whom Vaucher devotes all of its more than 50 horological disciplines. These skills include developing 3D printed prototypes, laser-cutting of plates and other components, from brass and German silver, on CNC machines, cutting and setting of hands, machine-setting and hand-setting of synthetic rubies, and manual and machine-assisted decoration of components. The decorative arts include Parmigiani’s own distinctive style of côtes de Genève and the hallmark barleycorn guilloché that adorns its rotors and delights watch aficionados who gaze at the movements through the exhibition case backs. Patience is a virtue in the birth of a Parmigiani movement, which can take up to five years to bring from idea to fruition — one year in the design stage, another in prototyping, an additional year in testing, and a final two in industrialization. The approach has yielded no less than 33 manufacture calibers over Parmigiani’s 20-plus years as an independent watch brand, including some of the industry’s rare tonneau-shaped calibers like Caliber PF365, also the watch world’s first self-winding integrated chronograph caliber made almost entirely from solid 18k gold.
Manufacture Vaucher Fleurier continues its historical tradition of training the next generation of watchmaking pioneers, with a four-to-five year apprenticeship program, and continues to perfect the vertical integration of Parmigiani Watchmaking Centre with plans to bring in-house the few remaining disciplines that require outside experts, such as enameling, engraving, and setting of precious stones. In 2013, Vaucher established its Private Label service that offers personalized calibers and components in small quantities to smaller-scale watchmaking clients, while continuing its primary mission of bringing Michel Parmigiani’s horological dreams to ticking life.
In a relatively short stretch of time — especially in comparison to many of the historic watch manufactures of Switzerland, some of which have partaken of the watchmaking hub’s range of skills and specialties to enhance their own products — Parmigiani has established itself as one of the top purveyors of haute horlogerie from design stage through finished timepiece. With 33 in-house movements, four timepiece families, and two Geneva Grand Prix awards within the last few years, Parmigiani’s pursuit of watchmaking excellence shows no signs of slowing down.