Swiss Watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier Could Be up for Sale

Parmigiani Fleurier, the Swiss brand led since 2021 by former Bulgari watches head Guido Terreni, might be up for sale.

According to luxury industry sleuth Miss Tweed, the Sandoz Family Foundation, may be looking to offload its most famous asset. (The foundation’s portfolio also includes stakes in a variety of horological companies, including Atokalpa, a manufacturer of watch movement gears; Les Artisans Boîtiers, a high-end case maker; Elwin, a manufacturer of precision tools, software, and watchmaking machinery; dial-maker Quadrance & Habillage; and movement maker Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier.) Whether these businesses will be sold as a group or as individual companies remains to be seen.

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Together, the group essentially feeds the production of the Parmigiani Fleurier watch brand, but Vaucher also supplies movements to other brands, including Chopard and Hermès (among many other high-end makers). Hermès, Chopard, and Audemars Piguet all own stakes in various elements of the operation.

“We never comment on rumors in circulation,” a Parmigiani representative told Robb Report. Still, the statement added that the company, “recorded a very successful 2023 and not only strengthened its position in the market, but also continued to cultivate strong relationships with its partners and customers.”

According to Miss Tweed, whose sources claim to have direct knowledge of the deal, “Parmigiani has stopped losing money since last year and analysts believe demand for luxury watches should improve in the second half of 2024.”

It’s doubtful that Swatch Group, Richemont, or LVMH would be potential buyers, because they already have their own integrated production facilities. That leaves a small list of potential partners, including Chopard or Patek Philippe (which Miss Tweed speculates are shareholders in both Atokalpa and Elwin). Or perhaps Hermès, Audemars Piguet, or even Breitling.

Parmigiani Fleurier was founded in 1996 by Michel Parmigiani, who specialized in restoring historic watches and clocks, including the niche automaton segment. He worked extensively for the Sandoz Family Foundation, restoring its collection of museum-worthy vintage clocks and watches, and the Foundation helped finance the launch of his brand, one of the first to be named after an independent watchmaker. The Miss Tweed story suggests the Foundation has lost money over the years on its investment.

Guido Terreni took over as CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier in 2021 after a 20-year career at Bulgari, the last 11 as president of its watchmaking division. During that time, Terreni spearheaded the research and development of ultra-thin movements for Bulgari, which have won several industry awards. At Parmigiani, he has focused on upgrading the flagship Tonda PF line, which last year won a prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Terreni has been quoted as saying he has tripled the brand’s sales in the past two years.

The Sandoz Family Foundation, which gained its wealth in the pharmaceutical industry, owns several luxury hotels, including the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, and finances cultural events such as the Montreaux Jazz Festival.

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