Parmigiani’s Repair Tradition

‘Repairing a collection of watches and clocks is a rare and wonderful experience. That is to liberate it from the traces of time and artificial wear and tear, and to reproduce it in a moment worthy of our memory.’ — m Michel Parmigiani Even now, it is rare to find antique artisanal aids in the restoration of watches. Master the secrets, and you will be able to travel in the industry. For Parmigiani, the restoration of antique watches has always been the soul of the brand. Decisive encounter
    In addition to thirty years of constant enthusiasm, restoration work is not only regarded by Parmigiani as a series of searching for future craftsmanship for precious heritage, but also a series of decisive encounters: the brainchild of the talented watchmakers of the past And meeting with outstanding private collectors who are passionate about antique watches and clocks. In the late 1970s, Ephrem Jobin, a prominent collector in Basel, Switzerland, and the first head of the Château des Monts clock museum, entrusted him with many great collections because of his talent for repairing clocks. Recognizing the important historical significance of these restorations, Michel Parmigiani conceived a unique set of principles in his pursuit of perfection: to achieve a certain balance between improving mechanical functions and preserving previous craftsmanship. This persistence allowed Ephrem Jobin to retire and decided to give him the responsibility to repair a series of Maurice-Yves Sandoz collections. This was a great opportunity for Michelle Parmigiani to come into contact with the priceless treasures of history, and at the same time met Pierre Landolt, the president of the Sandos Family Foundation. The partnership thus established foresaw a new watch legend in the 1980s , The birth of the Parmigiani brand in 1996. Several important results of the Parmigiani Restoration Workshop
1986 ‘Cueillette des cerises’ pocket watch. 350 hours. Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection.
1990 Breguet Sympathique pendulum clock. 2000 hours. Patek Philippe Museum.
1998 François Ducommun’s astronomical pendulum. 1500 hours. Castello Sforzesco in Milan.
1998 Breguet clock. 350 hours. Paris, Museum of Decorative Arts.
1999 Timepiece bird pistol watch. 500 hours. Patek Philippe Museum.
2000 Perrin Frères pocket watch. 160 hours. Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection.
2003 Frères Rochat timepiece bird watch. 300 hours. Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection.
2007 Faso’s Yousoupoff egg. Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection. 2009 Fabergé’s peacock egg. Maurice-Yves Sandoz collection.
    Partner Museums: Château des Monts Clock Museum, Le Locle (Contributing Restorer); Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva (antique collections only); Time Museum, Rockford, Illinois (now closed); Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris; Castello Sforzesco, Milan; Palazzo Falson, Malta Islands.
The collection, despite its restoration, must remain true to its past
Parmigiani’s Persistence: The courage to face history.
    The establishment of a workshop dedicated to restoring antique collections in contemporary fine watchmaking factories is a unique initiative, and it also highlights how the spirit of the pursuit of excellence has deeply influenced the watchmakers of Parmigiani.
Start investigation
    For the restoration of the treasures passed down by the watchmakers’ predecessors to this day, they must follow their methods and traditions. Before you really get in touch with antique clocks, the indispensable preparation is to gain a deep understanding of these masterpieces through a series of data collection and research. Such collections usually do not have any signatures, and are unique works that require the restorer to browse the group books, visit various museums, look for specific documents that can explain a certain mechanical function, or even play the role of ‘Holmes’ to interpret Traces of disappearing gears. That’s it, before you start dismantling, the repairer must spend a considerable amount of time to carefully observe it and pull it away.
Immerse yourself in a glorious tradition
   The restorer must be unconditionally immersed in the craftsmanship of the predecessors, in order to faithfully reproduce it in the mindfulness of the mind. To do this, he must be proficient in various related techniques, such as gold and silver craftsmanship, enamel glazing, engraving, hollowing out, gold plating or glass making techniques.
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    The time-consuming and extremely patient cleaning and maintenance work depends on the preservation status of the collection.
    The oxidation of the components is considerable and often hinders the good operation of the movement. Therefore, careful ‘derusting’ and polishing processes are necessary, and the ‘Perrin Frères’ pocket watch is just one example. The gongs, tongues, tongues, star wheels, gears, springs, and adjustment mechanisms must completely remove rust. Sometimes the restorer evaluates that instead of remaking, it is better to try to keep the main parts of the institution. An example is the leather bellows of the Rochat brothers’ timepiece. The original bellows occasionally had air leakage, which affected the sound quality of the bird’s timepiece. The air supply duct between the bellows and the mouthpiece is thus sealed. Not long ago, Parmigiani helped Fabergé’s peacock egg to complete a fairly precise repair work, so that the mechanical bird can work in coordination again; the peacock swings his feet slowly, and spreads his wings to open the screen in the circle. The unnoticed repair traces on its enamel surface also add unexpected brilliance to it.
One pair after another, each feather has been carefully adjusted.
Repair and restore
   The worst damage that time can bring is often far less than a careless pair of hands.
    When the restoration work is carried out, the most important thing for Parmigiani is to ensure the ‘reversibility’ of each process, maintain the original appearance of the collection and avoid any changes. Therefore, all processes are thoroughly recorded with a complete picture and text, and the exact part of the repair is marked.
    Taking the ‘La Cueillette des cerises’ pocket watch as an example, the improper repair actions of the predecessors have left scars that are difficult to erase. Several mechanism parts were randomly changed and soldered, which caused the steel to undergo irreversible oxidation.
   The Yousoupoff egg pendulum clock by Carl Fabergé’s workshop is another living example. With the help of computer 3D drawing, some of them bear the ‘Hy Moser & Co’ logo, and although they are damaged, they still retain the original institution’s collection to restore the original state. Among them are winding gears, winding ratchets and clockwork spindles, which must be completely remade.
Tonda Hémisphères dual time zone watch 2007 new modern perspective
    Because Parmigiani’s repairmen have experienced the baptism of all complex functions over the past 500 years, the secrets of the brand’s appreciation are few in the industry. In fact, integrating complex functions into the needs of today’s era is exactly what Parmigiani is passionate about. Parmigiani’s innovative Tonda Hémisphères dual time zone watch provides a complete second time zone hour and minute display. It is extremely convenient to use and can be set or adjusted individually. The time difference of many travel destinations is different from the synchronized GMT, which is actually half an hour or three quarters of an hour; with the birth of this watch, it finally found a reference standard.

Dual time zone pocket watch, 1870
    There are two time indications on the dial, distinguished by Roman numerals and Arabic numerals, and controlled by two movements mounted on the same splint. The winding method is to rotate the crown clockwise or counterclockwise, each of which can wind up different movements.

Le Chat et la Souris pendulum clock 2010 The tradition returns.
    To pay tribute to the remarkable talents of renowned animal sculptor and watercolor painter Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, Parmigiani created an extraordinary masterpiece called ‘Le Chat et la Souris’. Parmigiani used solid agate to create a kitten that was about to smash at its prey, and used it to interpret the rich vitality of Sandoz’s work. Its slender geometric lines are reminiscent of Art Nouveau. The mechanism of the small pendulum clock drives the kitten to circulate in a circle, which is one hour. Every time a kitten meets a platinum-encrusted mouse, the latter jumps away and keeps playing with it. To make the design more interesting, the spacing between each mouse escape is slightly irregular. It takes 60 minutes for the kitten to circle horizontally, and a single cat’s claw outstretching represents an hour. This is a tribute to the wonderful tradition of mechanical dolls of the eighteenth century, when the sole purpose of the artisans was to bring joy to the audience.

Yousoupoff Egg 1907
    This enamel pendulum clock is made at the Carl Fabergé workshop in St. Petersburg. Like many other craftsmen’s works, the eggshell is used to install a watch movement, and this work is made by Henry Moser. The time on the enamel dial shows a rather rare one: the Roman numeral four is represented by ‘IV’ instead of the traditional ‘IIII’.

Fibonacci watch 1996 The survival of craftsmanship.
    To commemorate one of the greatest mathematicians of the Middle Ages, that is, to introduce the Arabo numbers to Europe and to invent the Fischer series, to make Fibonacci the ‘1.618’ golden ratio, in 1996 Parmigiani completed the first batch of Fibonacci hunting watches design diagram. This watch is equipped with a perpetual calendar to display the minute question function, which perfectly illustrates the complex beauty of machinery. ‘La Cueillette des cerises’ alarm clock. 1800 years.
    This enamel pocket watch with pearls embodies the work of a pair of ancient Roman-shaped mechanical puppets. Behind the round enamels they beat are alarm devices hidden behind them. The enamel case back presents the scene of harvesting cherries. This is also one of the very few alarm puppet watches that does not have the function of asking the watch.
Fibonacci watch 1996
    Drawing inspiration from the various processes that Parmigiani has mastered, the back of the table features techniques such as engraving, translucent enamel, and gems. Parmigiani Fine Watchmaking Workshop decided to make this beautiful masterpiece come out again in 2010.
Bugatti Type 370 Centenaire watch 2009 The imagination of creativity.
    Built with the craziest mechanical structure concept in the history of horology, the Bugatti Type 370 watch completely subverts the watchmaking tradition, so the concept watch ignited the enthusiasm of all watch fans when it debuted in September 2004. It is the only watch in the history of horology. This watch is the first model equipped with a transversal mechanical movement. Its structure and components are designed according to the actual configuration of the car. The Bugatti Type 370 watch, which has now become the star of mechanical watches, has been actively developed for five years. It was assisted by more than 50 industries in the Parmigiani watch factory before its birth. The Bugatti Type 370 Centenaire, created to celebrate the centennial of Bugatti, adds legend to this most magnificent adventure in watch history.

Updated: 8. October 2020 — 13:34
Watches Channel