At the SIHH show in Geneva, Piaget's presentation was deliciously eclectic, as befits a maison that specializes in both watches and jewellery.
In the Couture Précieuse collection, the couture inspiration takes the form of embroidered dazzle. As Jean-Bernard Forot, Jewellery Marketing Director at Piaget, said, "The important characteristic is the openwork, so that between the gold and precious stones, you can see the skin of the woman wearing it. Pieces in this collection take many months of work, in part because they are made with a combination of white and pink gold, which is technically a very difficult procedure." In the earrings, this lacy openwork lets the light filter through the pieces, creating extra luminosity.
Some of the pieces in the Couture Précieuse collection feature some very large red stones, spinels. Why not rubies? Jean-Bernard explained, "Today it's difficult to find large red stones. There is an embargo on Burmese rubies, and in any case it would almost be impossible to find such large stones."
The collection includes a re-edition of a 1970s watch, with a chain-work strap in gold. This is specific Piaget expertise, requiring meticulous craftsmanship. Another Piaget characteristic is asymmetry, as in the women's watches whose rectangular shapes are slightly trapezoidal. "This creates perfect harmony, matching the slight tapering of the wrist," said Jean-Bernard Forot. The same sort of intriguing asymmetry can be seen in pieces featuring irregular sequences of diamonds and pearls. Other features of Piaget jewellery this year include an Art Deco inspiration, with black spinels and white diamonds, and in addition, a trend towards pink gold, perfectly exemplified by a watch and necklace in pink gold and baguette diamonds. The watch is first and foremost jewellery, but you can also use it to tell the time.
The Couture Précieuse collection was launched in Paris in September 2012, and it will be presented in all boutiques worldwide.
I asked Jean-Bernard Forot about specific market trends. "In the Middle East, our sautoir jewellery is very successful, because Middle Eastern women tend to wear jewellery on their garments. They like a lot of light, and therefore open-worked jewellery, while Asian women prefer larger stones and forms."
Piaget organized a fashion show at SIHH to present the Couture Précieuse collection, giving us the opportunity to see these wonderful openworked masterpieces interacting with female beauty and enhancing it to perfection.ã€‚
In the area of the stand dedicated to watches, one of the highlights was undoubtedly the Emperador Coussin Automatic Minute Repeater, which, in classic Piaget tradition, sets records for slenderness in its category: 4.8 millimetres for the new 1290P calibre with its 407 parts, and 9.4 millimetres for the case. It is the fourth major complication watch by Piaget, and it took three years to develop the movement alone. The degree of miniaturization attained is almost beyond belief: some wheels are just 0.12 millimetres thick, one-and-a-half times the thickness of a human hair. Designing the ultra-thin movement required some innovative choices, such as placing the hammers on the bridge slide, and reversing the repeater slide command at the 9 o'clock position, pushed downwards instead of upwards.
The acoustics performance of the watch is also good, with a gong that reaches 65 decibels, the intensity of a conversation. Hours are struck on one note, the minutes on another, with a clear and pleasant sound.
Another ultra thin watch from Piaget at SIHH was the new Altiplano Date watch, a superb dress watch in which an automatic movement and the date function is enclosed in a case 40 millimetres in diameter, and 6.36 millimetres thick (thin!) The 1205P movement is 3 millimetres thick, with its superb finish visible through the sapphire caseback. The brand is accustomed to world records, and it acquired another two with this piece.