Interview: Why the Former Head Of Bulgari Timepieces Left to Run Parmigiani

Guido Terreni has probably the most fascinating minds in luxurious. His insights and critiques about human want — the impulse that fuels all discretionary purchases — pass proper to the center of which watches achieve an technology the place, strictly talking, no person wishes them.

Terreni’s instincts guided probably the most a hit watch traces of the decade, the Octo Finissimo, which he introduced whilst working Bulgari’s watch department. His new brand is ready as other because it will get from the remaining. Parmigiani Fleurier has a distinct segment target market and a tradition of discretion, beginning with its namesake restorationist founder, that undergirds just about the whole lot it does.

HODINKEE spoke to the 51-year-old Terreni about his plans for Parmigiani, and the way his earlier reports ready him to chart the corporate’s route.

Parmigiani Fleurier headquarters.

Changing into a CEO is a protracted adventure. Are you able to stroll me via your historical past in watches, the stairs that introduced you right here, and what you realized at every one alongside the best way that ready you for this new position?

I entered watchmaking for romance. My female friend on the time, who changed into my spouse, used to be residing in Switzerland, so I went there to be along with her. After which I came upon a 2d pastime. Watchmaking is one thing I fell in love with right away. The competence takes some time coming from managerial college, which could be very robust in rapid client items, as a result of it’s important to be told that what ticks luxurious don’t seem to be the similar regulations as what tick industry on the whole. In luxurious it is all about feelings.

Feelings do not come from the turnover that you are making or the benefit that you are making. Feelings come from what you’ll give in relation to excitement to those who purchase the goods and crave what you make. That is one thing that evolves over a protracted length of time. I believe my first 10 years in watchmaking, I do not see successes. I see screw ups. They have been screw ups because of the truth that we did not in point of fact have the tradition of watchmaking. The tradition of watchmaking isn’t one thing you measure in quarters or in years — you measure it in many years, in centuries.

When I took over the Bulgari watchmaking department in 2009, it used to be a step ahead. I put into motion the whole lot I may just perceive concerning the brand and concerning the making of watches for that brand, seeking to rebuild an id that used to be misplaced. The place I discovered my excitement, and the place I discovered my position turning into complete, used to be in shaping the soul of what we have been offering to the customer, to someone who falls in love together with your brand.

Parmigiani watchmakers.

It is rather an insane factor to spend that more or less cash to understand what time it’s whilst you get it without spending a dime to your cell phone. There may be not anything rational about it. It is very emotional. It’s a must to have a transparent set of concepts, a transparent sense of id in thoughts, to make it turn into true. You might be just like the director of an orchestra, the place you could have many skills who need to co-exist to make gorgeous song.

The CEO position is complete at Parmigiani, as a result of you could have the entire scope. No longer only the product, but additionally the distribution, additionally the conversation. The narrative that you just construct across the brand is world with no need to provide concessions to different product classes that make up a posh brand like the only I used to be in sooner than. Right here it is in point of fact the pureness of the genesis of the considering in the back of the thing. There don’t seem to be many brands that may categorical watchmaking on the degree of Parmigiani. That is the selection I made, to head deeper into the technology, the savoir faire, into working out how we will be able to make a selection the clientele that has extraordinary tastes. Parmigiani does not have a extensive target market. It has an overly explicit target market. It’s a must to be very transparent and natural in respecting this id and making it turn into extra understood.

Numerous fanatics know that Parmigiani makes probably the most vertically built-in watches in Switzerland, via Vaucher, Atokalpa, case-making, dial-making, even screw-making. However is that this truth extensively sufficient identified and understood?

What isn’t understood is that when you’ve got this degree of talents to be had to you, you master your future. If it is simply method it is a chilly software, as a result of it’s important to do one thing with that. Whilst you exalt the method, that isn’t the emotion you are trying to look for. Feelings come from a lot more than the method itself. The method is the extent of execution that you just put into the introduction, and it is extremely prime. Purchasers who’re gathering haute horlogerie know you would not have to be vertically built-in as much as the screw degree to make a perfect watch.

A Parmigiani watch case being made.

When you’re arising and you have got those components that come into the advance in combination, they upload up in worth, since you’re now not simply the usage of an element and assembling it with any other one. You might be arising issues in combination, you’re including worth as a result of who speaks with the case, the movement, the hands, the dial – they’re all part of an alchemy that needs to be best possible. It has to have the benefit to turn into one object within the world.

Shaping a hairspring.

What’s in point of fact great is that the builders of the circumstances and the dials are in the similar room and they are able to discuss. They to find that degree of working out. It is a large benefit in relation to creativity as a result of you’ll glance past the one part. You’ll take a look at the entire watch. 9 occasions out of 10, the problems in promoting a watch come from a nasty building procedure. The truth that you could have an built-in building procedure makes you expect these items in building.

A dial being made.

The Octo Finissimo broke information, used horologically fascinating headaches and movements, and did so within the type of a wearable watch that, I believe, merits to be mentioned along the good sport-luxury watches of our time. Would you find irresistible to do one thing like this for Parmigiani and the way would you pass about it?

Smartly, the Bulgari consumer isn’t the similar because the Parmigiani consumer. The Parmigiani consumer, to me, is terribly an expert in watchmaking. He already has a number of watches at an overly prime degree. He isn’t an individual who swallows the promoting. He’s an individual who understands what he has in entrance of him, technically talking. And he has a style this is extra conservative, much less of a show-off character. And this discretion comes from the founder, Michel Parmigiani. On the age of 25, in the middle of the operated by battery disaster, he sought after to maintain for eternity the wonderful thing about watchmaking artwork.

Michel Parmigiani.

Recovery is necessary as a result of this can be a manner of deciphering the paintings of someone else. When you’re overhauling a Breguet, you must turn into Mr. Breguet. The restorer turns into invisible. That will give you a way of the humbleness and the magnificence of this man. Class is the way you behave, it is the way you deal with others. It is the way you turn into a noble soul. That is the soul of the brand. It is a brand that’s not to your face. It has the entire savoir faire, craft, and talents you’ll believe — and has turn into that as a result of it is extra necessary to provide excitement. It is a world of people who find themselves a hit however now not by way of stepping on other folks. They’re a hit as a result of they can be type, sleek, and feature a soul this is noble.

Recovery of a pocket watch.

Area of interest brands have an strange, shiny long term forward of them in the event that they nail why they exist. An increasing number of individuals who perceive what watchmaking is, the extra they’re going to be prepared to distinguish themselves by way of a motivation this is increase. The extent of schooling of the clientele isn’t on the identical degree as ten years in the past, for my part. It is crucial factor for which persons are beginning to have a look at smaller brands, with the absolute best talents, with much less advertising and marketing finances in the back of and extra content material within.

You discussed Michel Parmigiani. He’s a legend, the soul of the brand. You’re the new CEO. The place will his obligations finish and yours start?

Michel to me is an inspiration, and I will be able to evidently name him in a lot more than he has been doing just lately, as a result of he nonetheless has numerous give. He has the entire historic wisdom. I simply spent a day with him within the archives. He has an excellent reminiscence of what he did and what he does. To me he’s a supplement to what we need to do, and I need to combine him extra in what we need to do.

Michel Parmigiani

I’m checking out the information now we have with him, as a result of there’s an significance in respecting this soul. You can not stretch the brand. I believe I’ve a excellent working out from my years within the watch business, however the nuances he may give me are extraordinarily helpful to fine music and to exalt positive issues.

I’m going to provide you with an instance. Whilst you purchase a grand complication or an overly pricey watch and it comes included with a pin clasp, the customer may ask why do not you give me a deployant clasp. And that’s how I used to be considering. I stated why do you set a pin clasp on a watch on the higher degree, and he advised me one thing that only someone who’s natural may just say: How are you able to take a look at the movement in case you have the deployment buckle? How can I take a look at the back and spot my craft? And this cuts each dialogue. It isn’t a query how a lot you spend, however why is it like this? After two decades of watchmaking, no person ever responded a query like this so without delay.

Caseback shot of the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar (Picture credit score, The Bare Watchmaker).

Will have to we think new designs, new case shapes, new product households, or are you taking a look to construct into what already exists from a decoration perspective?

I believe this brand is a hidden attractiveness that has so much parts already within the brand. However they aren’t put prematurely and folks do not know. So what I’m doing is to grasp the classy codes that may be put prematurely and understood as extraordinarily Parmigiani. There are rather a couple of. There are 5 – 6 that I’ve already understood, and we’re already designing new manufacturing in response to those parts. You’re going to see it as a brand new watch, however in truth it’s not a brand new watch. It is a Parmigiani watch, however advanced. It isn’t a revolution. What I need to do is nail and categorical in a sentence what a Parmigiani watch is.

You have been a hit the place you have been sooner than. What used to be it concerning the new alternative that made making a decision to go away in the back of a spot the place you had a confirmed track file of luck?

I sought after to find a way to have the entire worth proposition – the truth that you could have some of these levers in combination that may function as an orchestra. I sought after to have a task that is 360 levels. Everyone is speaking about brand worth and brand construction, however right here the customer is searching for human worth. And this has been misplaced somewhat in teams.

Ten, two decades in the past the teams have been extra human than they’re nowadays. Whilst you get to a measurement of area of interest brands, you pass back to that soul, you pass back to that circle of relatives industry. It isn’t by accident that the impartial brands are the best-performing brands nowadays. They’re in point of fact, really impartial and they are able to do what the brand wishes.

The Octo Finissimo broke file after file. Used to be that part of a master plan?

The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

It used to be a master plan. The speculation used to be to copy persistently on a world file as a result of you want to nail the similar message and do it in a constant manner. But it surely used to be now not a flawless execution, as it took six future years out with the hour, minute, 2d. It isn’t that you just release as a result of you could have a timetable and you have got to admire it and you set anything else on. No, you release when you are in a position, and the movement within the chrono took two years and a part. The automatic took six years.

What may a seven-year building plan at Parmigiani seem like?

The Parmigiani technique could be very transparent to me. However it is going to take time so that you can perceive what it is going to seem like. The method of the fresh ultra-thin at  Bulgari used to be transparent to me, however you understood it because the fourth file. Till 2017, 2018 it wasn’t in point of fact simple to grasp the image. Somebody who has a imaginative and prescient can not disclose the imaginative and prescient; in another way, the imaginative and prescient does not turn into a imaginative and prescient.

What we’re doing within the first month is to set the id obviously, it is aesthetic codes that we need to be understood from a buyer perspective, and to conform the movement collection to a course that may be owned by way of Parmigiani.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Hijri Perpetual Calendar (Picture credit score, The Bare Watchmaker).

I will’t let you know which of the kinds, however it’s evidently the course that we need to make ourselves known as the finest. That is the plan. Now in fact, it takes years, as a result of it isn’t simple to broaden movements in a brief time. However as a result of we attain the experience and as the concepts are already rather transparent within the building groups, I believe it may be a pleasing tempo of advent like I used to be ready to do up to now.

But it surely needs to be constant, it needs to be finishing the brand, and it needs to be understood that after Parmigiani does one thing, it does not do it in an evident manner. It does it in a non-conventional manner, however now not since you are extravagant. No longer since you are loopy. However since you admire the artwork of watchmaking and are doing issues which are deeper than what’s most often completed.

What do you find irresistible to do whilst you don’t seem to be functioning? What are you interested by but even so watches?

I like to trip my motorbike. It is like my Zen workout. When you find yourself on a motorbike, it is freedom, it is energy, it is amusing, however it is usually journey. Ultimate yr, I spent a few weeks in Patagonia motorbiking. It used to be one in every of my bucket-list journeys, and I did it. I really like snowboarding and having time with my circle of relatives. My passions are very targeted. My task is a zeal. Residing the existing is most probably probably the most tricky issues you’ll do in lifestyles. And seeking to snatch each moment of what I am doing is what I would find irresistible to do. It isn’t all the time simple.

This interview has been edited for brevity and readability.

Scroll to Top