Latest collection of jewellery timepieces shows how to create synergy between tradition and modernity, writesPin Lee
Philippe Léopold-Metzger, CEO of ultrathin pioneer Piaget, sees Watches&Wonders as a showcase to promote the extraordinary work of high watchmaking.
"For Piaget, it is a great way to promote our know-how in high watchmaking and high-jewellery watches," he says. "We have brought exceptional pieces from our newest collections, as well as some of the craftsmen from our manufacture to show in-situ some of the best-kept secrets of movement and watchmaking. The event itself shows the importance of Asia and Asian consumers for Piaget."
Léopold-Metzger sums up Piaget's world market position as "a niche brand selling very exclusive products to an ever more sophisticated clientele of high-net-worth individuals". The brand is bullish about the future and increasing its production capacity to meet an ever-growing demand, "while keeping its exclusivity of the untouched", Léopold-Metzger says. "We also put more emphasis on knowing our customers well and improving their buying experience, whichever distribution channel they wish to use."
The Piaget watchword (no pun intended) is "always do better than necessary". It is a commitment that has worked well for the maison since 1874, and especially since the late 1950s and early 1960s, when it sensationally launched the hand-wound Calibre 9P, measuring just 2mm thick, followed by the Calibre 12P, at just 2.3mm, the world's thinnest automatic movement.
It replicated this triumph in 2010 with the thinnest automatic movement and watch in the world. This year, the brand again claimed title to master of ultrathin Grande Complication watchmaking by creating an exceptional minute repeater, establishing a new double record for the slenderness of its case and movement.
Piaget has developed 23 ultrathin calibres that have earned 12 records. The resulting watches are collected as much for the skills they represent in base movements, in major complications such as tourbillon, perpetual calendar, chronograph, minute repeater and skeleton movements. And, of course, the ultrathins are supremely elegant.
Ultrathin movements are a brand signature, most identified with the iconic Altiplano line. The collection includes the world's thinnest automatic gem-set skeleton watch.
Gem-setting is an art that Piaget has perfected, so the brand can also lay claim to having special expertise in jewellery watches. The amazingly slender watches of the '50s and '60s lent themselves to bejewelled designs with a special appeal for women. With gemologists, jewellers, goldsmiths and gem-setters, Piaget became a jeweller and a watchmaker, elevating both forms to the highest level in its workshops.
Another signature developed by Piaget was the gold bracelet in original designs of chains, weaving and mesh in cuff or sautoir styles, which are design classics.
By continuing the jewellery watch tradition, Piaget keeps many historic crafts alive and maintaining craftsmen with the dedication to devote hundreds of hours to perfecting just one phase of the creation.
"Watches&Wonders coincides with the worldwide launch of Limelight Gala, which is our latest collection of jewellery watches," Léopold-Metzger says. "Based on a design from 1973, it shows how you can create synergy between tradition and modernity." The round shape of Limelight Gala is given singularity by extended asymmetrical lugs and a bezel set with progressively sized brilliant-cut diamonds. It is feminine and elegant with black Roman numerals matching its satin strap. Piaget is proud that every facet of its creation from design to shaping and finishing of the case was carried out in-house.
"Limelight Gala is contemporary and creative, yet it has a classical side to it. I am sure it will appeal to the sophisticated Asian taste," Léopold-Metzger says. The curved lugs morphing into the bezel have a yin-yang sensibility.
Piaget has historically been very strong in Asia, thanks to its very early development in many countries of the region.
"Our sophisticated Asian clientele has been fond of our exceptional timepieces throughout the years, and I am always very proud to meet young customers wearing our products, saying that their fathers and grandfathers or mothers and grandmothers are also faithful Piaget patrons," Léopold-Metzger says.
"I meet many collectors and connoisseurs from all over the world and can say that the level of sophistication and knowledge of haute horology is very high in Asia and could be compared with the level in the United States and Europe. Clients understand the technical side but also appreciate the quality of design and manufacturing of the watch itself."
Having presented the first Piaget Minute Repeater with an in-house movement at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Piaget has chosen Watches&Wonders to present the High Jewellery Minute Repeater as a special gesture to the Asian market. Léopold-Metzger invites customers "to look and hear how time sounds through baguette diamonds".