Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier Calibre Seed VMF 6710
What many people don’t know is that Baselworld is more than just finished timepieces. It also has jewelry, software, tools, and many other categories. Including movements. With Baselworld 2018 rapidly approaching, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF) has just recently announced the release of their latest high-end movement. The Calibre Seed VMF 6710. It is yet another stunning movement by VMF and we have no doubt that it will be yet another success for the brand. However, in the case of VMF, there is much more below the surface that may be of interest to the watch collector and especially for the watch geek that enjoys “going down the rabbit hole”.
Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier is one of a number of brands owned by the Sandoz-Fondation de Famille (Sandoz Family Foundation). The Sandoz=Fondation de Famille involved in a number of different areas of business and one of them happens to be watchmaking. Beginning in about 2000, they began work in making themselves vertically integrated in the watchmaking industry through several strategic company purchases. If you are not familiar with the idea of “vertical integration”, the easiest way to describe it is a a strategy where a company expands its business operations into different steps or stages on the same production path, such as when a manufacturer owns its own supplier and/or distributor. The final result of vertical integration can help companies to reduce production costs and improve efficiencies by decreasing transportation expenses as well as reducing product and component turnaround time, among other advantages. The other companies that fall into their watchmaking vertical integration are listed below along with a brief description of each for reference.
The Sandoz Family Foundation was established in 1964 by the sculptor and painter Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, the son of the founder of Sandoz SA of Basel (now Novartis SA). The aim of the Family Foundation is to encourage entrepreneurial commitment through long-term holdings in companies in a variety of sectors. Apart from commercial criteria, the Foundation is dedicated to the encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation as well as to the cultivation of Swiss entrepreneurial tradition. In addition, its investments are directed at a strategic objective concerned with preserving high quality and protecting fundamental social values.
Please do note that the Sandoz Foundation de Famille does NOT produce Sandoz branded timepieces. The watch brand of the foundation is Parmigiani Fleurier. In the case of Sandoz branded timepieces, the Sandoz brand name has been split into four main areas of production beginning in 1971 via licenses to it being leased or sold. These licensing agreements have led to four (4) distinct watch brands They are Sandoz Singapore, Sandoz Hong Kong, Sandoz Swiss, and Sandoz Spain (Munreco). All 4 of these companies produce watches under the Sandoz name, but each production company has its own line of independent products. Sandoz Swiss manufactures high-end timepieces, while Sandoz Hong Kong and Sandoz Singapore manufacture much less expensive watches that would typically be considered to be of lower quality when compared to most Swiss luxury brands. Sandoz Hong Kong timepieces are assembled in Hong Kong using Swiss movements from ETA, SA.
Parmigiani Fleurier is a haute horlogerie watch brand that, along with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier and the other companies detailed below, is capable of producing high-end timepieces that are not only fall into the “Swiss Made” requirements, but are comprised of approximately 95% Swiss Made components. This is very much a rarity in the globalized watchmaking industry.
Parmigiani Fleurier – named after its founder Michel Parmigiani – was created in Val de Travers in 1996 and has based its values on authentic Haute Horlogerie ever since. Thanks to the Sandoz Family Foundation industrial watchmaking centre, which primarily serves Parmigiani Fleurier, in the space of a few years the brand has gained a unique credibility in the history of modern watchmaking. Parmigiani Fleurier is built on strict devotion to the highest aesthetic and mechanical quality, and on its expertise in watchmaking and mastery of mechanical grand complications. By remaining faithful to its founding values, such as the restoration of masterpieces of the watchmaker’s art, it is one of the few firms to preserve an image of authenticity in the eyes of the public. That is why, even today, at Parmigiani Fleurier, a restoration workshop is dedicated exclusively to restoring objets d’art from past centuries. This provides a source of inspiration and knowledge for its neighbouring Haute Horlogerie workshop, where cutting edge watchmakers assemble exceptional mechanical complications from the Parmigiani Fleurier collection, often over several months.
Atokalpa specializes in small component manufacture and design, including blanking, cutting, surface treatment, heat treatment, profile-turning and assembly as well as decrotive techniques such as as circular graining, snailing, diamond polishing, drawing and burnishing. Since the early 2000s, they are particularly well known for producing all components comprising the escapement and regulating organ ( the twenty or so parts such as escape wheels, pallets, bottom plates, balances, balance-springs, etc.). And, probably most importantly, for the production of hairspings (balance springs). The leading producer of these components is Nivarox FAR, a company that is a part of the Swatch Group. They are one of the few companies in the world that can produce high quality hairsprings in large quantities.
In December 2000, when the Sandoz Family Foundation acquired MBBS and renamed it atokalpa, the company, based in the Jura town of Alle, already specialised in the production of traditional gears for watch movements. The 20 different roles carried out there enabled all the components of a watch gear to be expertly produced, using machines as diverse as a bar turner and a laser machine. Since then, the strategy has evolved to encompass the manufacture of an even greater range of high-end components.
Purchased in 2005, Quadrance and Habillage (aka Quadrance et Habillage) specializes in the production of “prestige watch dials”. This includes dial printing, varnishing, electroplatng and index fitting. They do also employ engine turned dials, keep the art of guilloche alive.
In December 2005, Quadrance et Habillage was founded and incorporated into the industrial structure in order to achieve self-sufficiency in production and enhance the hub’s essential creativity. The dials are the faces of a watch, and an expression of the brand. Neutral or smiling, Roman or Arabic, eye-catching or understated, there is no end to the possibilities, but perfection is always essential. Each dial made here has a unique imprint linked to the identity codes of the brand for which it is made, in particular Parmigiani Fleurier.
Les Artisans Boitiers (LAB) is a high-end case manufacturer, working primarily in gold, platinum, palladium, steel and titanium. They are also capable of producing every case component in its entirety.
When it was acquired by the Sandoz Family Foundation in May 2000, the company, located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, was already the hub of the most prestigious expertise in high-end watch case manufacture. Since it was incorporated into the Watchmaking Centre, Les Artisans Boîtiers SA has been able to use the skills of its master craftsmen, acquired over many years, and its cutting- edge production technology to benefit the Parmigiani Fleurier brand and all of their customers. Through this partnership, the company is now able to manufacture cases of any complexity, material or shape, no matter how original. The most imaginative creations can now take form within these walls, where the entire production process is expertly handled.
Elwin is a micro-component manufacturer working primarily in the production of components such as studs, screws, levers and pins used in watch movements.
When Elwin was incorporated into the Sandoz Family Foundation Watchmaking Centre in January 2001, the company was already a respected supplier in Moutier, in the canton of Berne. It specialised in bar turning and the production of specific components, often complicated, which it processed using high-precision micro-mechanics – the watchword for its sector of activity.
Mechanical automatic with integrated column-wheel chronograph
30mm diameter (13 ¼’’)
36,000 vib/h (5Hz)
Variable inertia balance with 4 gold inertia blocks
Mobile stud holder
22k gold central rotor mounted on ceramic ball bearings
65-hour power reserve
Rapid rotation barrel
Hours, minutes, small seconds, date with semi-instant jump
Chronograph with center seconds
We have covered the COSC certification and certification process in the past. However, for those that may have missed this information, we do want to cover the basics for information purposes. COSC stands for “Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres” (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) and is a non-profit organization responsible for testing movements for accuracy and issuing the COSC certification. It is difficult to get full testing reports (the COSC no longer provides that information). But, generally, approximately 3% or so of all Swiss made timepieces receive the coveted certification.
The testing that a timepiece goes through to receive COSC certification is defined as follows:
Each uncased movement is individually tested for fifteen days, in five positions, at three different temperatures. The movements are fitted with a seconds hand and the automatic winding mechanisms are disengaged for the tests. Measurements are made daily with the aid of cameras. Based on these measurements, seven eliminatory criteria are calculated, each of which must be met (e.g., for movements of a diameter over 20 mm, the requirements, indicated in seconds/day, are noted in the table below). There is no ISO standard for quartz timepieces, but there is development in this field. ISO 10553:2003 specifies the procedure for evaluating the accuracy of quartz watches, individually and by lot, and the relationship between the accuracy tested and the accuracy classification given by the manufacturer.
The requirements of the COSC testing are defined as follows:
Average daily rate: -4/+6 seconds per day
This is the average rate over the first ten testing days
Mean variation in rates: 2 seconds
This figure shows if a watch tends to run fast or slow; a good quality watch will be consistent, whether it is fast, slow or correct
Greatest variation in rates: 5 seconds
This is the largest difference between any two days’ readings in a single position
Difference between rates in H & V positions: -6/+8 seconds
This is calculated by subtracting the average of the rates in the vertical (V) position (first and second days) from the average of the rates in the horizontal(H) position (ninth and tenth days)
Largest variation in rates: 10 seconds
This is the largest difference between the mean daily rate (see test number 1) and any individual rate during the first 10 days of positional testing
Thermal variation: ±0.6 seconds
The temperature error of the movement, expressed in seconds/degree
Rate resumption: ±5 seconds
This number is obtained by subtracting the average mean daily rate of the first two days of testing from the mean daily rate of the last test day
If you are unfamiliar with the COSC certification process or you’d just like to really go down the rabbit hole and learn much more about it, we recommend that you watch the following video. This is a video put together by our friends at Long Island Watch as a part of their “Watch and Learn” series. As is the case with all of the videos from the folks at Long Island Watch, they have done an outstanding job at putting this together. It is very much recommended to all!
The following is a quick video put together by the brand for marketing purposes and shows off the Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier Calibre Seed VMF 6710 and the various components that are used. Very much worth a quick viewing if you are a fan of high end watch movements.
In addition to the companies and brands outlined above that fall under the Sandoz-Fondation de Famille vertical integration umbrella, full watch production services are also available under the company Vaucher Private Label. They can provide base movements as well as customized version of approximately 30 or so movements as well as services that will bring to a customer a full produced timepiece under than brand name using their services.
In addition to the ability to produce in-house and custom made watch movements with COSC certification, the Chronofiable certification is also available and is accomplished through a strategic partnership with the Swiss company Laboratoire Dubois. This additional certification process tests components and functionality outside of the COSC certification and is generally outlined as follows:
- An ageing cycle
- Test cycles designed to measure the pull-and-push forces on the stem
- Test cycles designed to measure the forces exerted on the push buttons/function pushers (chronograph controls, correctors, etc.) and the turning bezel
- Tests on reactions to magnetic fields
- Shock-resistance tests using a heavy pendulum or striker (except for very delicate complications)
- Water resistance test
The following number of watches (without the bracelet) must be submitted:
- For a model produced in a series of 1 to 100 units: 5 units
- For a model produced in a series of 101 to 200 units: 10 units
- For a model produced in a series more than 201 units: 20 units
Make sure that you never miss a single new product, sale, live stream show, news post, article, review or anything else that is added to Talk About Watches! Simply subscribe to the email notification list and we will let you know about updates once per week as well as breaking alerts as they happen!
All trademarks, trade names, or logos mentioned or used above (including screen shots) are the property of their respective owners. Their use does not necessarily constitute or imply the endorsement, participation or recommendation of the owners in any deal, offering, sale or special. They are used here merely for representative and informative purposes.
(Scroll To The Bottom)