The Sandoz Family Foundation: guardian of Parmigiani Fleurier
The Sandoz Family Foundation was established in 1964 by the sculptor and painter Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, the son of the founder of Sandoz SA in Basel (presently Novartis SA).
The aim of the Foundation is promoting entrepreneurship by means of long-term shares in companies in various sectors. Apart from the commercial criteria the Foundation stimulates entrepreneurship and innovation as well as preserves the Swiss entrepreneurial tradition. It adds to it that the investments are focused on strategic goals which allow high quality and fundamental social values to be maintained.
The Foundation also encourages creativity and private initiatives. As a counterbalance against the commercial activities the Foundation also occupies itself with art and culture, under the flag of the Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz (FEMS), and science.
The Foundation is directly or indirectly involved in the pharmaceutical industry and agriculture, hotels, the watch industry, telecommunication and the Internet through a variety of organizations and holdings. The thinking behind every involvement is its focus on innovative strength in technology, sustainable developments and the creation of new jobs.
The Foundation is run by the management board and is supervised by Pierre Landolt, the family’s representative. Other members of the board are Maître Olivier Verrey and Gabriel Pretre.
The Sandoz Collection
The Sandoz Collection contains many kinds of objects, including (pocket) watches, of great historical value.
From 26 October until 26 November 2011, in Fifth Avenue in New York an important exhibition of objects from the Sandoz Collection was held and the below link shows a good picture of this collection:
In addition, below you will find pictures of objects from the collection:
Cage with two singing birds, a fountain and a mechanical organ
Oval-shaped English pocket watch with telescopic hands
Parmigiani Fleurier SA
Besides Parmigiani Fleurier’s worldwide top brand repute within the Swiss luxurious watch industry, the branch presently occupies an important economic and industrial position in the Val-de-Travers region. The branch’s history is closely interconnected with that of the valley. This appears from the fact that, in 1976, Michel Parmigiani selected Fleurier to start his first studio with, whereas the environment was declared a disaster area. The advent of electronic watches hit the valley hard and many prominent manufacturers of mechanic watches did not survive this blow.
Parmigiani’s firm belief that the region would make a strong come-back was shared by the Sandoz Family Foundation which, in 1996, decided to support Michel Parmigiani in developing his branch. Since that time the watch industry has become increasingly strong, leading to other watch manufacturers to feeling drawn to get settled in this region. Parmigiani Fleurier was the first to breathe new life into the century-old Swiss tradition of watch makers in this area and by doing so they have created 350 jobs in Fleurier by now. In order to continue the company’s extraordinary know-how in the future, they are training students in almost any facet of watch making.
The Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier factory was established in November 2003. This meant the division of Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps (founded by Michel Parmigiani in 1976) into two associated companies: the production part and the Parmigiani Fleurier branch, by which all of the watch makers’ activities were separated from the promotion of the branch itself.
Established in Fleurier, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier specialises in the High-end and Prestige sectors and goes into the large-scale production of outstanding watches clearly reflecting the image of Parmigiani Fleurier. In this way the private label Michel Parmigiani had ever held in view has been preserved and additionally, Parmigiani Fleurier is given the opportunity of delivering watches to third parties.
This means that Research and Development, the CNC production of plates, bridges and a few watch parts, a large mechanic workroom, decoration of plates and bridges and handicraft for embellishing the parts and the eventual manual assembly are joined together in a production plant. The Manufacture’s activities were distributed among three locations until 2009, but as of 4 September 2009 they have been concentrated in a 40,000 m2 building, thanks to the support of the Sandoz Family Foundation.
Parmigiani intended to be a real manufacturer and to this end, it purchased a number of specialised companies, which was an act of tactics.
Among those Atokalpa was obtained in December 2000. Located in Alle, in the Jura (the crib of precision work at millimeter level), Atokalpa had made a long-time specialty of producing parts being the moving parts of mechanical watches which together form the moving parts of mechanical watches. As of 2005, Atokalpa has also made every escapement and regulation part of the watches. All together some 20 parts forming the escape wheel, pallet, roller, balance and balance spring. Producing those parts requires being a perfect master of a complicated and precise production process: cutting, turning, slotting, rolling, surface and heat treatment, assembling as well as drawing and laminating the balance spring.
Based in Moutier Elwin has been part of the watchmaking hub of the Sandoz Family Foundation as of January 2001. It was established by the third generation of a group of industrialists who, since 1912, have been specialised in turning bars for the watch industry and particularly in making balance bars.
Elwin is also known for its numerically controlled bar turning machines and the development of accessory software. Elwin has even developed a new and revolutionary bar turning machine especially designed for the watch industry, with accompanying requirements for microscopic precision. Humard SA in Delemont, specialised in this type of machines, attends the manufacturing and marketing of this device. The Elwin production facility has been expanded since.
Quadrance et Habillage
The verticalisation of the watchmaking hub would not be complete without the possibility of making top-quality dials. For this purpose, in December 2004, Quadrance et Habillage was established and incorporated in the industrial structure in order to obtain self-sufficiency in the production process. Other goals were meeting strict quality requirements, improving the balance between supply and demand and increasing the hub’s fundamental creativity.
The dials owe their unique appearance to this company. First, at Quadrance, the dial bases are being processed by numerically controlled machines, subsequently guillotinised and plated with lacquer or electroplating. Finally, a dial maker is providing the indicators and attaching the applications. Owing to this production process the dials will always be perfectly sized, for Parmigiani Fleurier itself or a third party.
Les Artisans Boitiers SA
In order to make the watchmaking hub even more complete the Sandoz Family Foundation bought Les Artisans Boitiers SA in May 2000. This La Chaux-de-Fonds-based company used to be among the top watch case manufacturers at that time.
Apart from its industrial expertise this company provides state-of-the-art technology by using 3D computer programmes (CAD) and CNC-controlled machines.
Whether the case is made of precious metals (18-carat gold, 950 platina or 950 palladium) or steel or titanium, Les Artisans Boitiers SA have the possibilities of equipping the cases with any form of complexity, because they are able to make each part themselves. It will take the goldsmith several weeks to equip a model with various complications with a case, like the Parmigiani Fleurier Tecnica, and he will have to perform over 50 actions.
In conclusion you may say that the way in which the Sandoz Family Foundation has started business with Parmigiani Fleurier is a perfect example of intelligently turning a small potential watch branch into a fabulous watch-manufacturing organisation with a worldwide reputation for excellence.
The watchmaking hub of the Sandoz Family Foundation started in 2000 leading to the Manufactures Horlogeres de la Fondation (MHF), combining various forms of expertise. Today, there are 450 experts with 50 professions working within the hub, four factories and an equal amount of regional watchmaker cultures.