OK, be honest, what do you really know about Piaget?
Sure, they were (at least up until a couple of years ago) the makers of the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, but what else…?
It seems, to me at least, that for such a large brand (owned by the even larger Richemont group) Piaget hasn’t really got male pulses racing over here in the UK (well, not mine anyway). Granted they have a rich history and are one of the few in-house movement manufacturers yet, with the obvious exception of the Altiplano, they don’t seem to be particular renowned for anything.
Going To The Source (Sort Of)
I was sure there must be more to the story and was determined to find out for myself and so when one of the team members from the Piaget boutique in London’s exclusive Harrods Department Store contacted me via LinkedIn, I knew this was my chance. With my curiosity piqued I quickly arranged for my trusty sidekick and photographer – Adam Priscak – and I to visit the boutique at Knightsbridge and spend some time talking through some highlights of the current collection with Piaget’s Steven Wu and Romain Giovannetti.
A quick side note for those who may not have had the chance to visit one of London’s most iconic shopping precincts before; Harrods is opulence amplified. If you’re from London like me then you sometimes take it for granted, but the department store slap bang in the middle of prime real estate Knightsbridge is a luxury destination in its own right. If you’re ever in the vicinity it is a must visit.
The Piaget boutique occupies the space between De Beers and Chopard, by the entrance to the ‘Room of Wonders’. As soon as we step inside we are greeted by the impeccably dressed Steven who shows us to our seats. Steven moved to Piaget from Breitling at DM London less than a year ago, and I was very impressed with both his knowledge of watches (not just Piaget) and also his demeanor. It’s very easy to get caught up in buzz-word mumbo jumbo when speaking to sales people representing a brand, so conversing with a ‘regular’ person was a welcome change.
As I mentioned previously, Piaget hasn’t recently been known for much more than the Altiplano and some other high jewellery lines but that may be all about to change.
The first watch presented to us (and the one that really caught my attention) was the Polo Tourbillon Relatif.
For a brand synonymous with slim watches, it’s no surprise to learn that this is the thinnest automatic flying carousel tourbillon movement made by any brand to date. Still, that doesn’t make the achievement of this seemingly impossible feat any less impressive.
In the flesh the watch is extremely eye catching with a deep set dial allowing the tourbillon mounted to the end of the minute hand to rotate around the dial freely. The hours are indicated by a smaller arrow on the middle raised disc. The piece reminded me of the Cartier Astrotourbillon (Cartier is also a Richemont owned brand), but the Piaget trumps it in terms of movement depth and the fact that it is an automatic! Housed in 18k white gold, it is a limited production (but not a limited edition) piece retailing at an eye-watering £230,000!!
Admittedly it is an extraordinary amount of money to pay and whether it will hold anything close to that value is anyone’s guess. That being said I think it’s probably fair to say that the piece will continue to be classified as an ‘Important’ watch – for the foreseeable future at least – due to the fact that it is currently the world’s thinnest automatic tourbillon but does that mean that it will fare well amongst collectors? Well, that’s for the auction results from Christies and Antiquorum to decide when a piece is traded one day. Until then my own conclusion is that I am glad to finally see a high complication piece from the brand that may actually stir some new interest in it.
Another piece that caught my eye was the Emperador Coussin, this time in rose gold with a very nicely displayed moon phase complication.
I’m a sucker for aesthetics, so a massive textured lunar display aperture is right up my alley! I have a thing for this type of bluey grey dial and cushion shaped rose gold case, probably in no small part due to its resemblance to the iconic Genta designed Patek Philippe Nautilus. That’s not a bad thing in my eyes, and it could well be a good ongoing line for Piaget should the new Emperador Tourbillon live up to its billing once it’s officially available later this year. The look is perfect for formal or even business casual wear, and I can picture it now at the cuff end of a Madison Bespoke suit.
The Final Word
So, where to now for Piaget? The brand is somewhat of an anomaly in the sense that it has such an extensive history and is backed by a luxury powerhouse in Richemont, and yet still struggles to attract significant attention in a crowded market…on western shores at least. The brand is very popular in the Far East, possibly due to its slightly slimmer and more classic lead design. Then again I did hear the other day that Franck Muller is the number 1 watch brand in Japan, so what the heck do I know!?
Still, if their recent offerings are anything to go by Piaget may just be able to raise its profile up to the enviable level of sister brands Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier, at least in terms of recognizability and ranking on the invisible ‘Worldwide Luxury Index’ (current number 1 position held by either Rolex or Louis Vuitton, depending on who you speak to). Call it innovation, evolution or just some nonsense written by a young(ish) blogger from London, I am just hoping things continue in the same vein. Remember, competition is good for progression…I think someone wise somewhere might have said.
A special thanks to Steven Wu and Romain Giovannetti for hosting us, and for those who would like to see more from Piaget please visit their official website: www.piaget.com
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