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  Swiss Watch News 2003  
Parmigiani And Vaucher Manufacture
Vertical Integration A Step Closer
(November 20, 2003)

 With the opening of new premises in Fleurier, the watchmaking division of the Sandoz family Foundation makes further progress towards complete vertical integration of its activities. Next step: the balance-spring.

There was a genuine sense of occasion on 3 November this year in Fleurier for the inauguration of two new buildings of the Sandoz Foundation's watchmaking division, located at number 18 and 18bis of the rue du Temple (see photo). The first, a former dwelling house on four storeys with a floorspace of 400 m2, renovated from top to bottom, houses the Parmigiani repair and service workshops. The second, more industrial in nature - it was occupied by Universo until the end of the 1990s - has a surface area of 1100 m2 and accommodates a range of activities by Vaucher Manufacture: sand-blasting, polishing, chamfering (see photo), electrotype block work, brushing, T0, dial-printing, inspection, spraying, etc. These two buildings supplement the group's real estate holdings in Fleurier, which already include an industrial building at rue de l'Hôpital 33, now entirely devoted to Vaucher Manufacture, and a fine town house at rue du Temple 11, opposite the premises inaugurated on 3 November, which serves as Parmigiani's headquarters.

Today, Vaucher Manufacture produces around 5,000 prestige mechanical movements each year, 2,000 of which are fitted in Parmigiani watches. The remainder is divided among five brands, including Hermès and Bovet. In the medium term, the group is aiming at production of between 15,000 and 20,000 "personalised" movements and annual sales of around 5,000 Parmigiani timepieces (in our photo, a Forma Grande automatic with calendar).

With the expansion of its Fleurier site, the watchmaking division of the Sandoz Foundation has taken another step towards its ultimate goal: complete vertical integration of production. Aside from Parmigiani and Vaucher Manufacture, which incidentally also produces top-of-the-range dials, the group includes another three firms: Bruno Affolter in La Chaux-de-Fonds, with an 18-strong workforce employed in the production of watch cases, Elwin in Moutier, where 6 personnel are assigned to profile-turning, and Atokalpa in Alle, which also opened new premises recently and is active in micro-gears (pinions, wheels), where 60 people are employed. Together with the workforces of Vaucher Manufacture (125 personnel) and Parmigiani (30 personnel), the group's total payroll is not far short of 250.

Plans for the future are already in place with a view to in-house production of that key component of the mechanical watch, the balance-spring. To achieve this of course, the Sandoz Foundation will again need to invest heavily. As pointed out by the Foundation's President Pierre Landolt at the press conference of 3 November, the creation of a watch manufactory cannot reasonably be estimated at less than 50 million francs. He also indicated that roughly the same amount again is required to launch a brand! At all events, the work has already begun and while the completion date remains as yet unclear, there can be little doubt that the group will keep the media and consumers content in the meantime with the launch of new calibres.

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Last update : November 20, 2003