Watches of timeless elegance, mechanical movements that embody over half a century of ultra-thin watch models that have produced a long list of records for thinness: Piaget has certainly made an enduring impression on the watchmaking world since the company was founded back in 1874. This virtuosity reflects an unrelenting search for the very highest standards of excellence, combining deep rooted expertise, a constant urge to experiment and respect for the traditional watchmaking skills. This is the very essence of the Piaget signature.
Piaget’s legitimacy and expertise as a company are founded on 140 years of innovation and excellence. Faithful to its motto “Always do better than necessary”, Piaget combines technical precision and boundless creativity to create exceptional timepieces made entirely out of gold. Thanks to its two fully-integrated Manufactures in the localities of Plan-les-Ouates and La Côte-aux-Fées, Piaget combines the worlds of watchmaking and fine jewellery with over 40 specialised professions being practiced side by side. This ingenious fusion has enabled the brand to develop its innovation and to continue on its trail-blazing trajectory, constantly seeking to achieve the impossible.
The Birth of a Watchmaking Pioneer
Piaget’s pioneering spirit first made its appearance in 1874, in a little village in the heart of the Swiss Jura mountains, a region that since the mid-19th century had become a centre of micro-mechanical craftsmanship specialising in the assembly of watch movements. In a workshop set up inside his family home in La Côte-aux-Fées, 19-year-old Georges Édouard Piaget founded the company that still bears his name today. Dedicated to the production of high-precision watch movements, Piaget supplied its high-quality mechanisms to the most prestigious brands in watchmaking.
A dedicated work ethic and a penchant for risk quickly enabled Piaget’s reputation to spread far beyond the company’s native Jura. As the firm grew from one generation to the next, the desire to produce watches under its own brand name intensified. Piaget finally registered its own trademark in 1943. Since then, the brand has produced and given its name to its own luxury watches, the start of a journey that was to transform the little family firm into one of the most famous watchmakers and jewellers in the world.
The brand grew quickly, first under the guidance of the founder’s grandsons, Gérald and Valentin Piaget, and later under that of Yves G. Piaget. The explosion of orders and the growth in production capacity was accompanied by a geographical expansion well beyond the frontiers of Switzerland. In its new Manufacture constructed in 1945 in La Côte-aux-Fées, Piaget devoted itself to the creation of ultra-thin watch movements, an endeavour that was to become a defining feature of the Piaget identity.
The year 1959 was marked by two important stages in the company’s expansion: the opening of the first Piaget boutique in Geneva, and the creation of the Piaget Watch Corporation in New York with a view to introducing the brand into the United States. Year after year and collection after collection, the Piaget style continued to develop, and the scope of the firm’s technical achievements grew and grew. When the Piaget family joined forces with the Richemont Group in 1988, the brand was able to continue its expansion at a rapid pace, investing not only in new innovations but also in the buying back of vintage Piaget timepieces from collectors so as to form the Private Collection, thus forming a veritable history of the brand and of its influence on contemporary watchmaking and jewellery.
The undisputed master of the ultra-thin watch
With its unrivalled technical expertise, Piaget became the acknowledged master of the production of ultra-thin watches and thus came to mark the history of watchmaking. The creation of two movements, in particular, revolutionised the watch market. In 1957, the Manufacture presented the famous 9P hand-wound ultra-thin movement, which is only 2 mm thick. It was in the same year that Piaget decided to develop products made exclusively from precious metals (gold and platinum).
In 1960, Piaget unveiled the Calibre 12P, which with its thickness of only 2.3 mm was one of the thinnest self-winding movements in the world. This achievement attracted the attention of numerous connoisseurs and collectors. It really is appropriate here to talk in terms of historical primacy. Out of a total of 37 movements developed by Piaget, 25 are ultra-thin calibres, including 14 record-holders for thinness.
This expertise in ultra-thin movements gave rise to calibres with complications and presented Piaget’s designers with all sorts of creative possibilities, such as ultra-thin profiles, generously-sized dials, coin watches and different-shaped cases. Above all, however, it confirmed the brand’s uncontested status as a Maison of Haute Horlogerie.
As a Manufacture dedicated to the ultra-thin watch, Piaget continues to defy the limits of the impossible, for both hand-wound and self-winding movements. The brand is intransigent in its requirements for each timepiece, making no concessions in terms of the elegance of their designs, their technical reliability or their durability. In the universe of infinitely tiny dimensions, all watch components must be ingeniously designed and crafted, leaving space only for absolutely essential parts. Miniaturisation involves additional technical difficulties for which Piaget’s craftsmen find creative solutions at each stage of design, production, adjustment and finishing.
An example of such virtuosity is the Piaget Emperador Coussin Automatic Minute Repeater watch, which won a double record for thinness in its category in 2013: only 4.8 mm for the new Calibre 1290P, despite its 407 components, and 9.4 mm for the whole case. This veritable tour de force is the culmination of an extreme technical thinness within the ultra-thin category, of a mastery of the miniaturisation of the components, and of an exceptional design of the most absolute acoustic purity. The calibre 1290P in fact provides a sound of impressive intensity: no fewer than 64 decibels provide an amazing clarity.
An established icon of the brand, the Piaget Altiplano 38 mm 900P was the result of a specific design concept. It merged movement and case to become the thinnest mechanical watch in the world, with a thickness of only 3.65 mm. This marvel of thinness was the product of three years of development and delicate adjustment. The jewellery version of the Piaget Altiplano 38 mm 900P, totalling 4.71 carats, was also the subject of a new record. With a thickness of only 5.65 mm, it became the thinnest Haute Joaillerie watch in the world, perfectly combining gold and diamonds in the grand Piaget tradition, while at the same time respecting the required limitations of profile and thinness.
The rise of the watchmaker-jeweller
At the time of their creation, the first two ultra-thin calibres, 9P and 12P, offered a new aesthetic freedom and provided the opportunity to give full expression to an incomparable spirit of creative fantasy. Piaget watches became jewels in their own right, extravagant items set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. Having become the uncontested jeweller of the watch movement and the alchemist of the finest gems and ultra-thin calibres, the characteristic Piaget look was now firmly established. In 1961 the brand acquired specialised workshops so as to control its production processes as closely as possible. In the early 1960s, watches with dials made of hard or semi-precious stones began to take their place in the collection. Whether onyx, turquoise, jade or lapis lazuli, each stone brought with it an explosion of colour.
Devoting as much attention to the aesthetic transformation of its timepieces as to their technical characteristics, Piaget cultivated all its savoir-faire in watch decoration to create authentic pieces of jewellery in a refined style. Enamelling, miniature painting, guillochage, engraving and gem-setting were among the many techniques to which the Manufacture paid close attention. Every time a new complication was created, watchmakers and jewellers worked together to design a corresponding exceptional version set with gems, taking on a new artistic challenge.
Since the 1960s, Piaget has created its own gold bracelets using the techniques of traditional craftsmanship. These bracelets have become models of their kind, the perfect suppleness and absolute comfort of which are equalled only by the sophistication and complex adjustments of their various links. Each stage of design, production and hand finishing is perfectly planned and undertaken within the Manufacture. To achieve this, Piaget has maintained its own specialised workshops and has preserved its own invaluable expertise over the generations.
Although its first vocation was as a brand dedicated to watchmaking, since the 1960s its craftsmen have produced exclusive jewels inspired by audacious watch creations so as to satisfy clients that has become ever more demanding. Now a jeweller in its own right, Piaget creates jewels that are either unique pieces or produced in limited editions, and which are both experimental yet respectful of tradition. The brand thus follows to the letter an essential rule established in 1957: the exclusive use of gold or platinum both for its watches and jewellery.
At the apex of fashion and contemporary culture, Piaget’s Haute Joaillerie creations have taken their place on the international stage, much sought after by countless stars and famous personalities. As a renowned House of Haute Joaillerie, the Manufacture Piaget has the means to produce the most extravagant pieces of jewellery imaginable, authentic works of unbridled luxury for the pleasure of today’s jet set. Amid explosions of colour, audacious designs and contemporary creative marvels, in the universe of Piaget the impossible becomes possible.
In 1990 Piaget launched an iconic jewellery collection with its Possession line, representing the power of love depicted as forging a link between two elements. In this way, for instance, two gold rings are eternally linked and turn freely around each other to evoke perpetual motion.
In the year 2000, Piaget launched its Limelight creative collections, inspired by the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, with generous dimensions, purity of form and surfaces set with diamonds, recalling the stage lighting with which its name is associated. Many offshoots of this iconic collection have succeeded in creating a new element of surprise. The Limelight Paris-New York collection, for example, is inspired by the dazzling architecture and haute couture of those two great metropolises. The Limelight Precious Couture collection is also inspired by the world of fashion, and specifically lace, corset-strings and the decorative details found on many garments.
Another source of expression has regularly inspired Piaget’s designers. The rose, that splendid, sensual flower, has always enchanted Yves Piaget in his designs. As the brand’s unrivalled muse, the rose has been a feature throughout Piaget’s history in jewellery and watch creations that are both subtly fragile and dazzlingly audacious. As the ultimate tribute to this unconditional passion, the prize-winning variety at the International Competition for New Roses in 1982 was christened the“Yves Piaget rose”.
The “Piaget Rose” collection was launched in 2012 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the creation of this rose. With its petals of pink or white gold, some set with diamonds and others not, its whole sculpted roses and openwork roses, and its lace-like patterns, this collection expresses all the beauty of the rose.
Piaget’s love of roses was also shared by Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. She grew an extraordinary collection of 250 rare species of roses on her estate at Malmaison, just outside Paris. Inspired by this common passion, the Piaget Rose Passion collection of Haute Joaillerie is composed of 100 pieces entirely created in Piaget’s jewellery workshops. This vast collection of combs, tiaras, cuff watches and secret watches so dear to the brand, epitomises the boldness, femininity and modernity of a woman with an extraordinary life.
As a tribute to the delightful, delicate rose that has played such an important role in its history, Piaget has paid tribute to the talent of its creators since 1979. Yves Piaget has also designed a trophy – a life-size rose in 18-carat gold – crafted in the Manufacture’s workshops and awarded to the winners of the rose competitions in which the Yves Piaget Rose participates.
In 2014, Piaget celebrated the 140th anniversary of its founding by presenting a special collection entitled “Extremely Piaget” at the 27th Biennale des Antiquaires show in Paris. The collection, consisting of 88 pieces of jewellery and 37 watches, showcased a key period in the creative history of Piaget, the 1960s and 1970s, enhanced by the most precious materials: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, hard stones and gold. The audacious designs played with asymmetry, fluidity and stylisation. In the case of certain pieces, the distinction between jewel and watch completely disappeared. Colour was all-important, particularly with regard to the numerous hard stone dials, a Piaget signature feature.
Constantly reinventing themes that are close to Piaget’s heart, its designers take their inspiration from Hollywood glamour, garden magic or the party universe. Thanks to the heritage of its many years of experience in the exclusive universe of high jewellery, the Geneva-based brand develops themes of contemporary interest, offering a vast collection of jewellery and high jewellery items and of engagement rings. The talents of the various different artistic crafts work together under the same roof to produce dazzling creations, offering their wearers both suppleness and comfort. Exhibiting regularly at the Biennale des Antiquaires since 2010, the Manufacture has already imposed its distinctive, elegant style through a rich variety of exceptional creations, designed 100% in-house and created in the Manufacture’s high jewellery workshops.
The gift for anticipating future trends has always formed part of Piaget’s DNA. It is the fervent desire to constantly experiment and explore potential new avenues both in terms of technique and aesthetic design that enables Piaget to continually write new pages in the history of Haute Horlogerie.
This is why the traditions established by the first generations of the Piaget family play such a fundamental role. When each new timepiece is created, it is vital to combine tradition and modernity. It is by mastering the mystery of the art of watchmaking that technical limits can be surpassed. The exceptional talent of Piaget’s craftsmen lies in their ability to constantly reinvent ancestral watchmaking techniques and to revisit a rich history of innovation so as to imagine new possibilities to surprise and to create fresh emotions.
Two fully integrated Manufactures
In order to ensure its future success and to remain at the summit of its art, in 2001 Piaget inaugurated a new Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie in Plan-les-Ouates, just outside Geneva. It is in this huge ultra-modern building that take place the production by hand of watch cases and gold bracelets, the casing-up, gem-setting, finishing, creation and research and development of new watches, together with one of the largest Haute Joaillerie workshops in Geneva. As for the operations more specifically related to watchmaking, such as research and development, production, decoration, assembly and adjustment of movements, these continue to be the exclusive domain of the watch Manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées. It is in this historic head office building that the assembly and preparation of all the most complex parts also takes place.
This ingenious merging of the two Manufactures makes it possible to produce calibres that are entirely designed, produced, decorated and assembled by Piaget. During the last decade Piaget has created a large number of movements, including some very impressive complications: the calibre 600P – the thinnest tourbillon in the world; the calibre 608P – a spectacular tourbillon relatif movement; the renowned calibre 880P – the Fly-Back chronograph movement with a dual time zone; and the calibre 1290P – the thinnest mechanical self-winding Minute Repeater movement in the world (with a thickness of only 4.8 mm).
In these two fully integrated Manufactures, Piaget’s skills are applied with virtuosity in three main areas: basic movements (both hand-wound and self-winding), movements with major complications (Tourbillon, Perpetual Calendar, Chronograph, Minute Repeater) and skeleton movements, including gem-set skeletonised calibres, a speciality in which the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget has developed expert skills.
Founded in 1874, the Piaget firm has a dual capability — watchmaking and jewellery. One of its watchmaking specialities is ultra-thin movements, and the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie can boast an outstanding range of calibres of its own make. At the same time Piaget’s creativeness has consistently risen to the regular production of new jewellery collections. From its two facilities, in La Côte-aux-Fées, in the Neuchâtel Jura and in Plan-les-Ouates, near Geneva city, come the products that a carefully chosen sales network brings to the customer.
Piaget has a double personality: as a watchmaker and as a jeweller. The company assiduously develops its two areas of expertise, which it unites under a signature that has no equal in the world of luxury. Cosmopolitan Piaget stands for beautiful products derived from the superiority of its authentic skills.
Piaget above all represents the art of capturing time so that it can be measured in hours, minutes and seconds. It started in 1874, when the company’s founder, Georges Edouard Piaget produced his first horological movements.
|Georges Edouard Piaget|
Two generations later, the company pioneered ultra-thin wristwatches with the remarkable 9P hand-wound movement, followed in 1960 by its self-winding counterpart, the 2.3-millimetre thick Calibre 12P. The 12P earned Piaget an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the creator of the world’s thinnest watch movement. The brand continues to claim unchallenged expertise in thin mechanical movements. The new generation of 12-ligne (26.8 mm diameter) calibres, the 800P series, bears this out. In keeping with its eventful past, Piaget has been extraordinarily industrious these past 10 years in the development of mechanical movements, producing no fewer than 17 different calibres. Not many of the top luxury-watch brands can claim such creative output.
Piaget focuses as much attention on its sales network as on its production. The result is that the company now has 65 of its own stores around the world. Their interior decoration, designed by architect Gérard Barrau, combines wood, aluminium and stone in a convivial atmosphere with a decidedly contemporary look. As well as in Piaget boutiques, its products are sold by independent watchmakers’ and jewellers’ around the world, many of them longstanding partners and all unequivocally committed to Piaget’s high standards of competence and expertise.
YVES G. PIAGET A LIVING LEGEND
Born in 1942, Yves G. Piaget hails from La Côte-aux-Fées, the cradle of Piaget watches. He pursued scientific studies, earning a degree in watchmaking engineering from the University of Neuchâtel and graduating as a Gemmologist from the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) in Los Angeles. Representing the 4th generation of an illustrious line, Yves G. Piaget has masterminded several innovations that have proved to be landmarks in the history of Piaget, and indeed that of the watch industry as a whole.
In the 60s, the company produced the very first ultra-thin quartz movement, making it possible to craft extremely beautiful Haute Joaillerie watches. This world first was a natural extension of a tradition cultivated by Piaget, already recognised as the specialist of ultra-thin watches. Subsequently, it further established its technological and creative genius, broadening its renown to reach leadership status in “watch fashion”.
Throughout his career, Yves. G. Piaget has been a tireless traveller who has succeeded in spreading the brand’s fame to the four corners of the earth. While preserving its moderate size that is so conducive to ensuring the personal touch, along with its fundamental Haute Horlogerie philosophy, he gave the company a whole new dimension in 1998 through its merger with the Richemont Group.
Synonymous with “genuine luxury”, the name of Yves G. Piaget is a perpetual source of inspiration the world over. Because he enshrines style, elegance and emotion. Because he is a fascinating individual, driven by a number of passions: for new technologies, for equestrian sports, for the rose that bears his name. Decorated with the Grande Médaille d’Argent de la Ville de Paris, he was subsequently appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre National de Côte d’Ivoire by President Félix Houphouet-Boigny, before receiving the insignia of an Officier de l’Ordre de St-Charles from the hands of His Serene Highness, Rainier III of Monaco.
In 1999, Philippe Léopold-Metzger became the Chief Executive Officer of Piaget SA. Under the leadership of Philippe Léopold-Metzger, the company has developed its network of boutiques in a highly selective manner, increased its presence and corresponding consumer awareness in Europe, while maintaining its positions in Asia and the United States. His period of leadership has also been marked by the inauguration of a new Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva.
In 2017, Chabi Nouri became the first female CEO of Piaget .
Official website: http://www.piaget.com