Michel Parmigiani, President, Parmigiani Fleurier: We Aim to Remain Present and Active on Strategic Markets

19 Jan, 2016
What are your brand’s “star” novelties for the SIHH 2016?

To mark its 20th anniversary, Parmigiani Fleurier is unveiling the Chronor, its new integrated chronograph movement, a feat of watchmaking that very few of today's manufactures are capable of achieving. 
Since the very start of our watchmaking adventure, the idea of creating an integrated Chronograph has always been close to my heart. This dream became a reality on the eve of our 20th anniversary, and this is no coincidence – it is a reflection of our development as a manufacture. To successfully create an integrated chronograph, one must first master its imposing, meticulous assembly of constituent parts; not just their manufacture, but also their operation and function at the heart of a calibre; one must appreciate both their limits and potential. For this reason, an integrated chronograph is necessarily the work of an experienced manufacture. The Tonda Chronor Anniversaire is a reflection of 20 years of work.

What are your expectations at SIHH 2016?

Our main goal during SIHH is to mark our territory and to always be a reference in the Haute Horlogerie field. 

What are the foreseen trends and directions with watches in 2016?

This upcoming year will be difficult, due to the political and economical changes our world is facing. Nevertheless, the legitimate brands will resist the crisis and therefore this year more than ever we will focus on our roots, emphasizing our independence and unique timepieces. We will also adapt our production according to the actual demand. 

When would we expect the SIHH novelties to be available at boutiques and POS in the Middle East?

Around spring time 2016

How is your brand faring in the Middle East?

Our brand awareness and overall visibility have largely improved since the establishment of our subsidiary in Dubai in January 2014. We have invested a lot to be present on many fronts, from outdoor advertising to events and sponsorships. We were also delighted to host our first collectors’ gathering with Arabian Watches and Jewellery & the Arab Watch Guide. Meeting so many of the UAE’s watch enthusiasts has been enlightening for us as a brand, and one of our priorities for 2016 will be to organise more of these across the GCC, hand in hand with our retail partners but also in countries where our retail presence is not as preeminent. What we aim for is to deliver something as unique and exclusive as our know-how and manufacturing skills, to establish our name in the Middle East. We aim to deliver a dream, we can pretty much deliver anything that our customers are wishing for in a watch. 

Do you propose to open more independent boutiques in the Middle East?

We are mostly looking into enhancing our current retail presence via our existing retail partners, and also to enlist more retailers, especially in critical countries like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, where we have not really established a strong presence yet. 

Describe your relationship with collectors in the Middle East.

It is still a young relationship, but we are certainly planning on creating a stronger bond with all our collectors in 2016, as we are planning more meetings, and looking into new opportunities to showcase unique models and our haute horlogerie know-how across the GCC.

What are your brands priorities for 2016?

As mentioned before, our brand’s fundamentals will be this year’s focus and we will of course celebrate our anniversary by launching exceptional timepieces thanks to our extensive experience. 

Did your export figures increase in the Middle East for 2015?

Last October, Bloomberg was reporting that the Swiss watch exports had their biggest decline in six years, led by a 39 percent slump in shipments to Hong Kong, the industry’s largest market. 
Similarly, your magazine also reported on the latest figures communicated by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry “FH”, whereby Swiss watch exports were said to slip 12.3% year on year to $2 billion (CHF 2 billion) in October and exports to key consumer markets dropped substantially, with UAE dropped by 84.7%, Saudi Arabia down 36.4%, Kuwait dropped by 13.4%, Qatar down by 14.2%.
Starting off with the spike in value of the Swiss franc, it is fair to say that 2015 has been a challenging year for high-end Swiss watchmaking in the Middle East, also because of the unique ties the region shares with other parts of the world, including Russia or China, where macro-economic conditions have been less than enticing lately when it comes to luxury purchases and gifting. 
Having said this, and considering that I started my watchmaking workshop amidst the huge Swiss watchmaking quartz crisis in 1976, I am feeling confident that this period will come to an end, just as the quartz crisis did 40 years ago. This is also why, as a brand, we aim to remain present and active on strategic markets and geographical areas, including the Middle East, in order to stay ahead of the curve when the market turns a corner and hits a high again.

Anything you wish to add?

We are looking forward to developing stronger ties with the Middle East, through a mutually enriching relationship with Arabian Watches and Jewellery and its unique network of partners and collectors