March 7, 2016
Miami has always been known as the place where the hip and the famous live and vacation. So it should come as no surprise that the watch market in Miami is vibrant and unlike many other places in the world. Indeed, being one of the most important port cities in the United States and the gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, there exists a huge appetite for luxury, glamour, and art in South Florida. So it was not surprising to me when Parmigiani chose that location to create it’s first US-based boutique.
Having lived in Miami for four years, and regularly visiting family there over the past 15 years, I was also not surprised at all when last year I visited the Miami Design District and particularly the Palm Court section, that it is quickly becoming the Mecca for luxury watch brands in this country.
Within what amounts to less than a city block, you will find boutiques from brands such as A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Chopard, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hublot, IWC, Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Ulysse Nardin, Tag Heuer, Vacheron Constantin, and many more opening shop seemingly every year. That is in addition to the mainstream brands such as Rolex and Omega who also have stores just outside the Palm Court, as does the Swatch Group’s Tourbillon which aggregates some big brands from the conglomerate: Blancpain, Breguet, Jaquet Droz, and others.
While any boutique from any of these brands is worth visiting, having them all in the same concentrated location makes for interesting sightseeing if you are a watch lover visiting Miami. In particular, I want to focus on one brand that I believe is prototypical of the Miami lifestyle: Parmigiani Fleurier. I was first introduced to the brand in 2014 during the World Cup in Brazil. Three things make me a huge fan of PF who is celebrating 20 years of existence this year.
First, this is a serious, fully integrated manufacture doing soup to nuts on every aspect of their avant-garde fine timepieces, from cases, to highly hand-decorated movements, and even the hairsprings in the movements. The Vaucher Manufacture, a part of Parmigiani, has been known to produce movements and sometimes fully cased watches for brands such as Richard Mille and Hermes.
Second, the history of Parmigiani is that of the founder, Michel Parmigiani, a master watchmaker that created his eponymous brand after spending years restoring old clocks and watches from previous centuries. This grounding in history plus a look toward the future with avant-garde designs like the Bugatti Supersports and refined and classically modern pieces like the Tonda 1950 squelette make Parmigiani watches some of the most sophisticated and modern watches in existence today. And the best part is that the watches typically reflect the noble, reserved, and humble character of the founder.
Finally, the people of Parmigiani Fleurier are first class. Always treating visitors and clients as family. At the fabulous boutique, their first in the United States, I was greeted by store manager Julia Gourdon, who gave me a complete overview of the brand and the watches at hand at the “Studio,” as they like to call the store. I collected responses to three questions that I think can help others become more familiar with the brand and the new boutique:
Maximilien: Who is a typical Parmigiani customer? Describe what attracts people to Parmigiani watches?
Julia Gourdon: What attracts people to Parmigiani is curiosity. Either they have heard of the brand, or want to know more about our story. A typical Parmigiani customer is someone who appreciates true craftsmanship and the integrity of our brand. We find that people who own a Parmigiani feel like they are part of a family and wear our watch with pride.
Maximilien: Tell us about the boutique in the Miami Design district? What should a visitor expect if they visit the store?
Julia Gourdon: Our studio in Miami is located in the heart of Miami’s new fashion and high-end luxury district. It is our first boutique in the United States and is targeted to reach both North and South American customers. In our studio, expect to see many boutique exclusives, limited edition pieces, and get a genuine introduction by our team to the brand and its story.
Maximilien: What advice would you give to anyone visiting Miami? What should they not miss?
Julia Gourdon: We as locals really like the Wynwood Art District and Miami Design District – this junction between fashion and art is really what this city is becoming.
Parmigiana Gallery, located in Wynwood, is where we chose to have our North American headquarters. It also substitutes as an art gallery for monthly exhibitions, as well as a place for hosting social gatherings.
I want to thank Julia and the Parmigiani family for their always warm hospitality and invite all visitors to Miami to swing by the Miami Design District Palm Court for a visit to Parmigiani’s boutique in the Mecca of mechanical watches in this country. parmigiani.ch