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Text: Roksolana Chernoba, Dmitry Morenkov
Photo: Roksolana Chernoba, PARMIGIANI Fleurier company archive

Time is now in greater demand than oil, gas and gold together. Hundreds of thousands of books and tens of thousands of training classes try to teach people how to use their time economically. In Moscow, DE I was lucky to meet the visitor who knows more about time than all the authors of books on time management.

Michel Parmigiani has been a part of the history of watchmaking for over 30 years. Moreover, he does not just know the history of watchmaking ? he restored with his own hands its 450-year period, recreating even those models his colleagues had considered beyond repair for over a century. Parmigiani?s time management corresponds to his place in the history of world civilization: it takes at least 400 work hours to make one piece of Parmigiani Fleurier. With a worldwide reputation and international awards, Michel Parmigiani could always afford not to do things in haste. He has been restoring antique clocks, pendulums, clocks, mirror with singing birds ? works of art that are now exhibited in the Museum of Watchmaking in Le Locle. The Museum officially appointed him as his chief restorer.

DÅ I:   Russia has had 10 years of booming sales in the Luxury sector. A Parmigiani Boutique opens in Russia now. You have met many successful and influential people in modern Russia. What kind of impressions you had at these meetings?

  These are people who love and know how to appreciate beautiful things. I think that Russia has a certain culture of understanding and appreciation for beautiful things, and if we consider the past, the Soviet epoch, when there was nothing, now people have slowly learned to understand beauty.

DÅ I:   What is in demand in Russia?

  Unique series and watch models that exist in a single copy are very popular. This is the most evident special feature. I have a similar situation with clients from Singapore and Hong Kong, but for Russia this is the most pronounced feature. Especially for Russia, we have prepared a limited series of Kalpa Hemispheres, only 30 copies. These watches are practical in terms of time zones. They have a dial second time zone: we know that Russia has several time zones ...

DÅ I:   How much?

  Probably about four ...

DÅ I:   Eleven!

  For me it is a source of inspiration! I will think of something!

DÅ I:   You come from the region where there was a fierce struggle of Catholics and Protestants. Did this reflect in your upbringing?

  When I was a kid, this was very important, especially with friends. In our time, it feels less and less, because you form opinions about a person regardless of his religious beliefs. Now we do not judge a man by religious affiliation.

DÅ I:   Are you continuing your charity and sponsorship projects, such as Montreux Jazz Festival? Does this helps in the business?

  We will continue to work with the Montreux Jazz Festival. It certainly contributes to the recognition of the company, and we evaluate it not from the position of financial costs, but from the position of growing awareness. In Switzerland, the Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the most remarkable cultural events. We are also involved in the Aeronautic Fiesta in Chateau d'Oex. Our ball flies over the Alps. These are two very important points in the communication and marketing strategy.
We support the Bernard Stamm, the famous Swiss yachtsman who participates in regattas. But we won?t be spending on a lot of things at a time.

DÅ I:   Do you still have time for hobbies?

  I still have very little time, but I do have some. For example, on Saturdays at noon, I usually go skiing. I also love to ride a mountain bike and to swim.

DÅ I:   Have you ever faced with something that symbolizes Russia for you?

  I started as a restorer, and in my house in Neuchatel there is a Faberge egg, I restored it personally. This is a great value and rarity. This egg belonged to the family, Sandoz, and I completely restored it. I became so attached to it that I was allowed to keep it.

DÅ I:   What is the most incredible job you have done?

  There are several, but if I name one it was a timepiece called Planetarium of the XIX century masters Francois Ducommun-dit-Boudry for the Castello Sforzes Museum in Milan. I also restored antique carriage clocks Breguet for the Paris Museum of Applied Arts, and we have set in motion Breguet Pendule Sympathique, which all experts had pronounced impossible to recover.

DÅ I:   Now it is a difficult time, and some, in spite of this, consider that right now they have a chance to start their own business. Do you have guidelines to help start their business in difficult conditions?

  The biggest mistake is to make full stop in activity. Trade and economic relations should continue their course. You should not sit with your mouth open, waiting for something. When I opened my business, I was moved by will, desire and belief that this is not the end of the watch industry. No-one but us are to continue the centuries-old traditions.

DÅ I:   People spending their lives in manufacturing, rarely retain good looks and keep fit. You make the impression of a mysteriously healthy, calm, self-confident person. Why is that?

  I always get up very early, before lunch I spend time in workshops watching the manufacturing processes. Then I have dinner with my family, and then again go to the workshops. I usually work for 12-16 hours a day. I often stay at work until late, sometimes I stay until 6 am doing something. But everything comes from the head. You must be able to look at things from the outside. Do not get used to the situation, do not react too emotionally.

Read the full version in # -1 issue of DE I / DESILLISIONIST


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