Elegance is the main objective
Mention the name Piaget and the words 'ultra-thin' immediately come to mind. Since introducing the 9P and 12P ultra-thin calibres more than 50 years ago, the luxury watchmaker has consistently pushed the boundaries.
At this year's SIHH, Piaget outdid itself with the Piaget Altiplano Skeleton Ultra-Thin, its first self-winding skeleton and also the world's thinnest self-winding skeleton case - 5.34mm - and housing the world's thinnest self-winding skeleton movement - 2.4mm. The Piaget 1200S movement is a refinement of the 1200P introduced two years ago for the anniversary of the original ultra-thin 12P. Despite exploring the vagaries of measurement, Piaget CEO Philippe Leopold-Metzger says thinness was the means to an end. 'Piaget has been dedicated to ultra-thin movements and seems to have nice, elegant watches. Thinness is not the main objective, but the thin movements allow us make very elegant watches,' he says. 'We will never choose thinness over reliability. So, if one day we do not have the thinnest watch in the world, our hearts are not going to be broken.'
At 38mm, the white gold Altiplano Skeleton Ultra-Thin certainly qualifies as elegant, but its understated grey movement belies the amount of craftsmanship that went into the satin-brushed wheels and micro-rotor, and hand-bevelled and hand-drawn bridges and plates.
Other watchmakers have recognised the genre's elegant lines and have been snapping hard at their heels. Leopold-Metzger says the brand welcomes competition. 'It tells us that we are a leader in a movement that is growing. The bigger the competition, the better we will be,' he says.
Where complications are concerned, however, the CEO says that Piaget will have to look over its shoulders. 'There are some complications that we don't have and that we are working on. But the philosophy is that what we don't make, we don't sell.'
Piaget is also introducing several new movements, particularly for the new Gouverneur line, which joins its cousins in Piaget's Black Tie collection. The new line, distinguished by its round case but oval dial, features two new calibres.
The calibre 642P weighs only 0.2 grams and powers the Gouverneur Tourbillon, which comes in pink gold or diamond-set white gold casing. At 2.8mm, the flying tourbillon is the world's thinnest.
The Gouverneur Chronograph beats to the rhythm of the new calibre 882P, an ultra-thin mechanical flyback self-winding movement. The dial features the date at 6 o'clock, a second time zone at 9 o'clock and a vintage 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o'clock.
The Gouverneur Automatic Calendar houses the calibre 800P movement, featuring two barrels that ensure an 85-hour power reserve. The watch comes in a 43mm pink gold or diamond-set white gold casing. Piaget's high-jewellery timepieces are also a point of interest. This year, the Limelight Garden Party collection is inspired by the Yves Piaget rose, named after the great-grandson of Piaget founder Georges Edouard Piaget. The deep pink rose, which has 80 petals, is known for its intense, sweet fragrance and is even grown by United States television personality Oprah Winfrey.
The collection features two secret watches, one in the shape of a rose which flips open to reveal the dial. The Limelight high-jewellery secret watch comes in an 18ct white gold case paved with 668 brilliant-cut diamonds and an 18ct white gold folding clasp set with another 40 brilliant-cut diamonds.
The Limelight secret watch features the motif of a rose in an 18ct pink gold and white mother-of-pearl case, set with 185 brilliant-cut diamonds, which slides open to reveal a pav? pink gold dial set with 101 brilliant-cut diamonds. The pink gold buckle is set with 51 diamonds.
Limelight Dancing Light features a black dial with a rotating white gold rose motif set with 155 brilliant-cut diamonds, another 52 on its bezel and 15 on its white gold strap buckle.
It also has the same motif but with a mother-of-pearl dial and pink gold case and motif. All four house the quartz 56P movement.