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Parmigiani patron reportedly puts the business up for sale

Miss Tweed reports that the Sandoz Family Foundation has put the businesses in its Watchmaking Centre up for sale.

By Swiss watchmakers’ standards, Parmigiani Fleurier is a relatively new atelier which may never have grown in size or status were it not for its founder Michel Parmigiani securing the support of the Sandoz Family Foundation.

The Sandoz family, which made its fortune in pharmaceuticals, might be described as venture capitalists for the art world, but it would be more accurate to say they are art enthusiasts with a mission to support creative individuals and institutions.

The foundation began its journey into watchmaking with its investment in Parmigiani in 1995, and has since been acquiring stakes in businesses that together can autonomously produce complete watches and all their components.

This mission led to the acquisition of MBBS in 2000, since renamed as Atokalpa, a manufacturer of gears for watchmakers. Sandoz’s investment helped the business to expand into producing more sophisticated components and assembling completed regulators.

In the same year, the foundation bought Les Artisans Boîtiers in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a specialist in high end case manufacturing.

Elwin was the next purchase, in 2001, which brought the manufacturing of precision tools, software and watchmaking machinery into the operation.

Complete movement maker Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, which remains part-owned by Hermès International, joined the fold in 2003 and dial-maker Quadrance & Habillage was assimilated in 2005.

The result is a network of companies that, collectively, have almost every manufacturing process covered, and a globally respected brand, in Parmigiani Fleurier, as its public face.

Now, however, the Sandoz Family Foundation appears ready to disband and sell off the businesses from its Watchmaking Centre. 

According to Miss Tweed, who quotes sources with first-hand knowledge of the decision, Parmigiani Fleurier and several other watch component suppliers have been put up for sale.

Sandoz Family Foundation is famously private and has not responded to WatchPro’s request for details.

In additional to Parmigiani, a number of major watch brands use Vaucher Manufacture movements including Audemars Piguet, Hermès and Richard Mille.

This client list hints at both potential purchasers of Parmigiani and its satellite manufacturers, and also highlights a potential complication for any potential sale because any new owner would want to keep this prestigious customer base on board while avoiding conflicts of interest.

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