For Watches and Wonders 2023, Piaget returns to its roots in watchmaking and jewellery excellence, nodding to its most exuberant and evocative designs from the 1960s and 1980s. Here, mastery and artistry meet creativity and audacity, with new timepieces that pulse with the Piaget spirit: bold, distinctive, original.
“To always do better than necessary” is a motto that has long guided the Piaget Maison. That raison d'être continues today, with creations that radiate with a singular energy from a mastery of materials – goldsmithing, ornamental stones or high jewellery gem-setting – and which further come to life from bold, daring designs and a unique frisson between past and present.
Founded in 1874 in the Swiss village of La Côte-aux-Fées, Piaget’s modern history is defined by one key date – 1957 – and two key milestones. The first was the birth of the ultra-thin 9P hand-wound mechanical movement, a 2mm-thick calibre that revolutionised watchmaking. This cutting-edge, ultra-thin signature set the course for Piaget to become a byword for the most sleek and unexpected, yet also innovative, watches of its time. The second was to exclusively encase the 9P in the world’s most precious metals, gold or platinum – the finest materials for which to celebrate and pay homage to Piaget’s exceptional watchmaking know-how.
House of Gold
When Piaget committed to using only precious metals for its watches in 1957, few could predict how masterfully, and extravagantly, Piaget’s goldsmithing craft would develop. In 1969, Piaget launched its avant-garde 21st Century collection, a series of daring and flamboyant gold cuff watches and sautoirs that were dreamt up not in the Swiss watchmaking atelier, but in the front rows of Paris runway shows. Piaget’s designers imagined time-telling jewels to match the fashions of the day, and once back in Switzerland, sketched directly on the pages of fashion magazines. The result was couture-like sautoirs and manchettes that wore like a second skin, where gold was moulded, sculpted, woven and braided into supple, silk-like fabrics.
In 2023, Piaget pays homage to this trailblazing collection and its goldsmithing expertise with two hand-crafted sautoirs fashioned from twisted gold chains, and three exquisitely hand-textured gold cuff watches. Twisted gold starts with a single strand of wire that’s wrapped around a mandrel to create a coil, then meticulously hand-twisted one by one and shaped into harmonious, homogenous links, before final assembly. The entire process takes no less than 130 hours, with each chain utterly unique. One vivacious, tassel-style sautoir is set with a 25.38ct oval cabochon Zambian emerald to match an oval-shaped dial, a signature Piaget shape from the 1960s. The other encircles twisted gold around the dial, which further comes to life from Palace Decor – the epitome of Piaget’s gold craftsmanship.
Piaget’s Palace Decor was first developed in the 1960s, inspired by the guilloché technique found in watchmaking. This engraving art begins on a bracelet of gold links, which an artisan skilfully incises with the sharp tip of an echoppe, manually sculpting a multitude of stylised grooves and outlines, each one individual in depth and thickness. The final result is perfect in its imperfection, distinctive and one-of-a-kind.
For Watches and Wonders, the Palace Decor makes its way onto a new cuff watch with a striking, robin-egg blue turquoise stone dial. But the Palace Decor is only one of 100 different kinds of engraving techniques that Piaget has mastered over time, and which can be set on different types of bracelets. This artistry is highlighted in two additional cuff watches, both set with opals and which nod to Piaget’s love of nature: one etched with an evocative bark and vein finish, the other taking on an ephemeral and magnificent frost-like theme. All the new cuff watches make the ornamental stone dials look asymmetrical, another Piaget signature, peeking out from the manchettes’ abstract, spontaneous design – and further accentuating each stone’s elusive beauty and mystique.
Ornamental stones are a Piaget signature, celebrated for their vivid, intense hues and natural sense of mystery and strength. The dial of the new Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Obsidian emanates this very emotion and intrigue: its silver obsidian dial has an inherent iridescence thanks to inclusions that formed when drops of mineral-rich sulfide liquid became trapped in the rock as it solidified. Left in the hands of Mother Nature, such inclusions are very rare, and no two stones are alike.
Piaget has paired this exceptional obsidian with a perpetual calendar, one of watchmaking’s most historic and emblematic complications, which adds a bold and technical, androgynous feel to the sensual design. Piaget’s love of coloured stones also shines through in a bezel of deep blue sapphires, set in dark claws to further enhance the dial’s magic and individuality.
Since 1957, high watchmaking and high jewellery have always danced in tandem at Piaget, and this unique savoir-faire reached a new zenith in 1989 with the Aura high jewellery watch. Fully set with individually calibrated baguette-cut diamonds, the watch radiated a distinct charisma and energy, with the Aura name encapsulating both its luminous design and the spirit of those who dared wearing it. The watch also had a fully integrated case and bracelet, which Piaget had been developing since the 1960s, but which marked a new milestone in gem-setting know-how with the bracelet’s full, seamless articulation.
Piaget now revisits the Aura by combining diamonds with sapphires. Once more, the baguette-cut stones are perfectly calibrated to fit the watch’s form and integrated case and bracelet, as the blue sapphires are beautifully colour gradated – a design process that required more than eight months to source and select exactly the right stones. Powered by Piaget’s 430P Manufacture ultra-thin hand-wound mechanical movement, the watch glows with an exceptional brightness, as ultra-thin claws deliver an invisible-like setting where maximum light permeates the creation. A radiant sunburst setting on the dial further illuminates the design. Requiring more than 260 hours of gem-setting work, the watch comes in two different sizes and two unique colour gradations.
At Piaget, traditional skills are explored, perfected and repeated until they become essentially instinctive. From transforming gold into couture-like fabrics to hand-sculpting the material to reflect nature and capture light; from acquiring the most emblematic ornamental stones to its expertise in high jewellery gem-setting, Piaget has always strived to blend refinement with bold, audacious creativity – and elevate elegance and extravaganza as a form of art.
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