Watch mystic Michel Parmigiani: “I work in secret”
Michel Parmigiani is the founder and spiritual father of the Parmigiani Fleurier watch house. He is also a mysterious human being and it takes time and effort to get to know him; a driven, natural-born watchmaker who lives for timeless, aesthetic technology of the very highest level. We introduce the new top brand to the Ace Jewelers collection by words of the the master watchmaker himself.
“The foundation of any movement is technology; building constructions in which a range of problems must be overcome. It has been like that for centuries and when I started my own watch house in 1996 I also chose technology as the foundation. Every watch that has left the manufacture since then was built in that spirit and, hopefully, has eternal value. To me that is the most important thing; that, as a watchmaker, I have succeeded in creating an object that finds its place entirely independent from the time.
I don’t really care that much that my name is on the watch. In fact, my name doesn’t even have to be on it, because everything I make is created in secret. A watchmaker works in the background, that is where he exists. That is also the reason I started repairing movements. In 1964 I came across a book about a special kind of pendulum clocks and the technology and the way in which the mechanism was created appealed to me. Here was someone who had to use all his intellectual ability to create a superb mechanism. I imagined how he had done that all by himself, in silence and loneliness. And it is that silent, secretive world into which the watchmaker disappears, and in which he is lord and master at the same time, that continues to fascinate me to this day.
I am a perfectionist and that means I suffer a lot of frustrations. Nothing is good enough. In my never-ending search for perfection I research technologies and materials to get ahead. I deliberate, reflect and weigh up the pros and cons. For example, I am hesitant about using a material like silicon. A large number of leading watch houses use it, but because I have no idea whether a part made of this material will still be functioning well 15 years from now, I don’t use it. In that respect I am a pure traditionalist who values certainties, because there is still room for improvement and discovery even within the known quantities.
Perhaps the most important thing I have learned in my career as a movement maker is that a watch movement is anti- mechanical. That may sound strange because a watch full of cogs, spindles, springs and catches is automatically designated ‘mechanical’ and that is a term used and accepted by everyone. But it’s not the cogs, spindles, springs and catches that form the essence, the heart of the movement; no, it’s the oil. It’s because of the viscosity of the various types of oil that are distributed and used throughout the entire movement that movement functions and continues to function. The oil keeps all the components together.”