“WhoAreU” interview with Guido Terreni, CEO Parmigiani Fleurier

Temps de lecture : 6 minutes
Guido Terreni, CEO Parmigiani Fleurier, avec Amandine pour l'interview Tekitoi

My name is Amandine, I am now 13 years old and keen on watchmaking. Since the age of 7, when asked what job I want to do, I answer “watchmaker-designer at Bulgari”… In the meantime, I interview people in the industry. Let’s see today who is Guido Terreni, the CEO of the discreet watch brand Parmigiani Fleurier.

By Amandine, the youngest Swiss Watch Passport columnist
Amandine’s portrait | Insta SWP | Insta JSH® | Insta Amandine | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

Guido Terreni, Parmigiani Fleurier CEO
Guido Terreni answering Amandine

Who are you at work?

I try to be someone who leads by example and shows the way I’d like for Parmigiani. Like a conductor who directs the music for my colleagues to interpret. Sometimes, I also write the score because some things have to be done a certain way to match with the brand… and that’s it. You need the courage to do things differently, but always do them well.

And in real life?

I’m a father, a husband. Someone who values deep relationships. I much prefer quality over quantity. Otherwise, I have a great passion for motorcycles, my true hobby. And I love skiing, traveling, music, and eating. Eating well. Fairly simple things, as you see.

How did you get into watchmaking?

Out of love! My wife was in Switzerland and I was in Milan. We were engaged at the time, and it was a race to see who would find a job first. Fortunately, it was me. And then I fell in love with watchmaking.

What memories do you have of your first watch?

I must have been around six years old, and it was a Timex. My mother bought it to teach me how to tell time. I wore it for a while, and then I forgot where it was. I think I lost it.

And which watch holds the most sentimental value for you today?

There are many. After 23 years in watchmaking, there are many stories and memories… I remember many projects. All of them, actually. Some were very challenging, like the Octo Finissimo, to which I am very attached, or the Serpenti. But also my latest piece, the Tonda (Editor’s note: for Parmigiani Fleurier), which for me is almost miraculous.

Do you make watches for young people?

At Parmigiani, we try to make watches that stand the test of time, for refined clients who are well-versed in watchmaking. And that doesn’t have any age! For me, there are young people who have taste, who are educated with beautiful things around them, and who are able of appreciating beauty.

Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante
W&W 2023 new model Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante

So, it’s not a question of age but rather of maturity towards beautiful things.


What would you say to young people under fifteen to get them interested in mechanical watchmaking rather than their Apple Watch?

These are two completely different things that can very well coexist in a person’s life. Mechanical watches have their own soul, a life that lasts. It’s an object that can outlive us and fascinates. Because mechanical art is a true intellectual exercise. It’s quite miraculous to see all these little pieces of metal come to life in something that barely measures three or four centimeters. If you have enough curiosity to discover and understand this art, it quickly becomes fascinating and very endearing. But you also need to understand how difficult all of this is. That’s why it’s so beautiful.

What are the strengths of your brand to attract these young people?

Our brand is a reflection of its founder, Michel Parmigiani. He is a person of great sensitivity and a living legend in restoration. At the age of 25, in 1975, amidst the quartz crisis, he understood that the cultural heritage of mechanical art could disappear. So he began restoring old watches when everyone else wanted to do quartz. And it was only after 25 years of restoration that he founded Parmigiani. Our strengths, our values, come from Michel Parmigiani.

young Michel Parmigiani at the bench
young Michel Parmigiani restoring watches at the bench

He brought into the brand all his cultural baggage of watchmaking history, prestige, but also the concern for finishes that stand the test of time. He had the opportunity to work on artefacts that were 500 years old. He is a true encyclopedia of watchmaking, not only in terms of history but also in practical terms. On how to do things. Because when you restore a 19th-century dial, you have to understand how it was made in the 19th century. You need real talent to achieve this, but not too much ego either… When you work on someone else’s work, what you do should disappear in favor of the original creation. That’s why our brand is also discreet. Like its founder. It’s anything but an ostentatious brand that you would wear for its name. It’s a very elegant, discreet, refined, timeless brand, for cultured people who make personal choices.

Anyway, I feel it in the decoration and atmosphere of your booth. When you enter, everything is calm and harmonious, it’s soothing. A bit like a woman wearing a long black dress. Discreet but super classy.

Thank you.

Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante. movement from the back Microrotor and high-end finishing for a fine watchmaking piece
Tonda PF Minute Rattrapante. movement from the back Microrotor and high-end finishing for a fine watchmaking piece

There is a lot of talk about sustainability. What does it mean to you?

It’s something mandatory today. We don’t have a choice! Mechanical watches have the advantage of being inherently durable since they no longer consume energy once they have been produced. They redistribute the energy of their owner. So, they are already very durable. Then, for producing the watches, we have factories and workshops. At the assembly level, we don’t need much energy, so the footprint is quite low. For factories, it’s a bit more difficult, but we strive to minimize the carbon footprint as much as possible because it is our responsibility. Finally, it is very important to trace the origin of the materials we use and to source sustainably and responsibly.

For example, with us, all the gold and platinum used are ethical. It’s entirely traced, and besides, it’s not very difficult to do. Maybe Swiss watchmaking should make it mandatory… It costs a little more, but not that much. On the other hand, it obliges us to be able to separate the production of traceable elements from those that are not. Or, as with us, from those that are manufactured for other brands.

Are you more into TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn?

LinkedIn first, and Instagram.

Guido Terreni's LinkedIn profile
Guido Terreni's LinkedIn profile

What advice would you give me to live my passion and work in watchmaking?

First, know what you would like to do. Working in watchmaking encompasses many things. There is production in workshops, creation, communication and marketing, but also the commercial side or even training. If you like being in contact with clients, presenting your watches to them, you may need to lean more towards the commercial side. The question is really about knowing what you want to do to know where to go. And if you aspire to work in a more strategic, visionary role, to define the future of the brand and its models for the years to come, then you will need to focus on the notion of value. First, understand what the brand’s core values are, but also the values you want to express, and finally, those of the client you want to seduce. It’s only when you’ve combined all these values well that you can enter the execution phase, with design and development. And at this level, it’s important to have developed a sensitivity and values that are more qualitative than quantitative.

Would you have a message to convey, something to add, or to announce?

Everyone sees watchmaking as a very interesting, attractive, flamboyant business. Sometimes, I would like to remind people that Luxury isn’t the money we have in the bank. Luxury isn’t a quantifiable notion but the expression of quality. When we produce Luxury, we should be inspired by excellence and use all the know-how and wonderful traditions we have inherited to continue projecting forward.

Unfortunately, over the past 30 years, the luxury industry has tended more to draw inspiration from its past with replicas and reissues. I think it’s much more interesting to look forward and create. A truly groundbreaking watch, a truly innovative design, comes out about every ten years. Except in the 1970s, which were very creative, where several icons came out, each with its distinct characteristics. We must reject the current idea that everything has already been done in watchmaking, look forward, and try to push the boundaries of this wonderful industry.

Would you like to take a selfie for my album?

I was just about to ask you the same, but for mine…

Thank you very much. Would you have a question to ask me?

Guido Terreni, CEO de Parmigiani Fleurier, et Amandine pour le selfie Tekitoi
Parmigiani Fleurier CEO, Guido Terreni, with Amandine for the selfie session

Reverse interview…

(G.T.) What made you fall in love with watches?

(Amandine) Actually, I wasn’t very interested in the watches I saw in magazines or on people’s wrists. The passion came when I first had the opportunity to hold them, touch them, try them on. That made me fall in love and I started looking at watches like I never saw them before.

Recents posts

Book “Le Cadran”, by Dr. Helmut Crott

The work of a lifetime, the book "Le Cadran" by Dr. Helmut Crott (edited by Joël A. Grandjean), the history of the dial in the 20th century, the prestigious history of the Stern dials and of a family that took over the Patek Philippe brand



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