Piaget's distinctive designs have built up an enviable reputation in the industry Celebrated jeweller and watchmaker Piaget represents the epitome of exclusivity. Over more than 60 years, the high-profile brand has come to represent glitz, glamour and the dazzle of diamonds. But Dimitri Gouten, managing director of Piaget's Asia-Pacific division, said it was not all about sparkle and shine. First and foremost, the brand was a serious watchmaker. 'I think Piaget's specificity is to have dual knowledge. It's a technical brand,' Mr Gouten said. 'We never really emphasise this, but Piaget started as a movement maker, so we are very strong technically.' Founded in 1874, the brand originally specialised in producing high-quality movements for other watch brands. It was only in 1940 that Piaget, under the guidance of the founder's grandson, Gerald Piaget, began making watches under its own name. Over the decades, the brand's distinctive designs have built up an enviable reputation in the industry. 'Our tourbillon is a prime example,' he said. 'It's very different from other tourbillons you will see on the market.' Different is certainly the right word. Diamonds cover the entire surface of the watchmaker's Emperador Tourbillon Squelette, including the skeletal dial and the bridges holding the movement in place. 'That is where the jewellery side comes in,' Mr Gouten said. 'Because we have launched some attractive movements, so we have been able to use stones to decorate our watches.' Piaget's take on luxury had helped it to build up a strong following in eastern markets. 'Asia is strong for us,' Mr Gouten said. 'The brand's Chinese name literally means 'earl', so there has always been a link in China between Piaget and nobility. We are very strong in the region already and China is only making us stronger.' Mr Gouten said there were generally two types of people who bought Piaget jewellery and watches. One group of customers simply bought a status symbol, a way to show off their wealth; the other group appreciated the quality of the workmanship and wanted to become a member of 'a very exclusive group of owners'. 'What makes our brand so special is that it is part of an exclusive club,' he said. 'We can produce a maximum of only 20,000 watches a year.' That was a drop in the ocean when compared with the likes of Rolex and Omega, he said. 'When you own a Piaget you won't find anyone in the same restaurant who is wearing the same watch as you.' But he said the high-end watch market was going through a period of turmoil. 'There is a major war going on in terms of new watchmakers,' he said. Fashion brands were diversifying their collections to include jewellery and jewellery watches, and some were even making complication watches such as tourbillons.There was a danger the market could become flooded with faux glamour, he said, and people could lose sight of what luxury really was. 'Today, the word luxury is used so much that another word should be invented,' Mr Gouten said. 'Fashion brands are all calling their products 'luxury', and this is really killing the word. Luxury should mean something made in very limited quantities that is of the highest quality workmanship. If one word could define the concept of luxury, it would have to be Piaget.' Although Piaget was aimed at a niche market and was therefore not so vulnerable to competition, it was still feeling the effects of the battle, Mr Gouten said. But the brand is not going to take it lying down. 'Others are trying to grab our market, enter our niche,' he said. 'We will also fight back by launching our accessory products in steel and gold.'