CLUBHOUSE Away from the Fairways TEE TIME
Of Divine Proportions
Evan Rast discovers the magic formula behind Michel Parmigiani’s rise to success CONTINUED OVERLEAF
HK Golfer・JUN 2012
you will instantly recognise where the Type 370’s case comes from. It took us five years to create the watch, from development to final prototype. It’s one of our best accomplishments.” And all these collections still exist today, a testament to Parmigiani Fleurier’s enduring aesthetic.
The Golden Ratio Parmigiani reveals his inspirations: “Our designs are rooted in observations of nature. One finds symmetry and complete harmony in nature, and in nature everything is in a state of equilibrium. This is the essence of Fibonacci’s law. This Italian mathematician in the 13th century succeeded in seeing harmony and proportion in everything. It was a revelation to me. In his theory, a flower, a leaf, a crystal, the structure of all these things, are governed by the Golden Ratio, an algorithm that when followed creates beauty and harmony.” The golden ratio, approximately equal to 1.618033, is believed to be a divine proportion that when used in design makes the creation more aesthetically pleasing. The Greeks
“Our designs are rooted in observations of nature. One finds symmetry and complete harmony in nature, and in nature everything is in a state of equilibrium.”—Michel Parmigiani
Swiss heritage: the Parmigiani Fleurier manufacture (top) in the heart of Val-de-Travers; the Kalpagraph from the exquisite Kalpa collection (opposite) 2
HK Golfer・JUN 2012
ix collections, 27 in-house calibres and four world firsts later, Michel Parmigiani, CEO of Swiss brand Parmigiani Fleurier, is proof that in watchmaking, one doesn’t need a century-old lineage to succeed. One only needs a special equation. At a time when the Swiss watch industry was in its dark age because of the quartz revolution, Parmigiani chose the unbeaten path. He was among the few of his peers that decided to stick with mechanical watchmaking, even while the future looked bleak. In 1976, he started taking restoration work from various collectors. He reveals of his passion, “Restoration is not repair. Repair is just changing parts to make the object function again. Restoration is learning about the object, doing your research before you even make the first move. A restored object must not make a lie of its past.”
employed it when building the Parthenon, and it is widely observed in great architecture. It is also seen in the works of Salvador Dali, Da Vinci and hundreds of other painters, and even the music of Chopin. This interesting focus on harmony and proportion has made Parmigiani Fleurier watches easily identifiable, not only because of the designs of their dials, but because of the exceptional construction of the cases and the parts. Parmigiani explains further, “In our watches, you will notice that all the curves are natural. The hands, the numerals, and other details, everything is in perfect symmetry with the rest of the parts.” A prime example of this can be seen in the lugs, which come in a distinct leaf-like shape that to many may seem like a random design, but is a result of study based on the Fibonacci’s golden ratio.
Expanding Creativity Since the brand was created, Parmigiani Fleurier has extended the range to include the Tondagraph, a combination of chronograph and tourbillon, which underlines Parmigiani’s
Through learning about the intricacies of historical masterpieces, Parmigiani began making his own movements. He caught the eye of several watchmaking brands, who started commissioning him for projects, including Breguet, for which he produced the Calibre 90, an automatic pocket watch movement, and Chopard, for which he developed the iconic L.U.C. 1.96 automatic calibre. Parmigiani’s dedication, passion, and respect for restoration work also started a friendship between himself and the Sandoz Family Foundation, a group started by artist Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (heir to pharmaceutical giant Novartis) that invests in companies that showcase innovation and entrepreneurship. The foundation had an extensive collection which Parmigiani became sole restorer of in the 1980s. T h is pa r t nersh ip created t he bra nd , Parmigiani Fleurier, in 1997. Shortly thereafter a series of collections were launched for men and women: the Tonda, Kalpa, Pershing, and the Bugatti, the legendary watch co-developed with the car manufacturer of the same name, whose cylindrical movement was a world’s first. Parmigiani recalls, “When you see the shape of the [Bugatti] Veyron’s very prominent engine, HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・JUN 2012