Piaget - the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong flagship

The prestigious Swiss watchmaker and high jeweller unveils its largest boutique in Asia

by 09 October 2012

Overlooking the glittering lights and waters of Victoria Harbour, the 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong hotel is every bit the glamorous location it was the day it opened its doors in 1963. Renowned for its many indulgent aspects, which include a 3-storey spa and exclusive shopping, its latest resident has rendered it all the more captivating, endowing it with the shimmer of high jewellery and the savoir-faire of complicated watches. The resident in question is haute horlogerie – haute joallerie maison Piaget, a brand that can already claim a stellar presence in Asia, but with this new store, surpasses even itself.

 The eighth Piaget boutique in Hong Kong, the first Asian location to feature the brand’s new architectural concept and now the largest Piaget store in all of Asia, the Mandarin Oriental flagship marks an exciting turn. At over 464 square metres, it is virtually impossible to miss this 2-storey space passing through the hotel’s ground and mezzanine floors. Speaking to designer Christine Querlioz of Paris-based architecture firm Atelier Sasha, I learn that her vision was to create an invitation, a space that literally beckons you inside. Hallmarked by a regal black and gold colour scheme, the décor is a mix of glossy and matt surfaces with custom oak veneer furniture, gold-leaf wallpaper, treasure chests and hanging Venetian glass lanterns.

Making my way through the boutique on opening night I’m met with archive photos of the Piaget clan, a reminder of how far this Swiss family business has come from its beginnings in 1874 as a manufacturer of watch movements. Best depicting its story is the impressive ‘Piaget Time Gallery,’ exclusive to only three Piaget stores in the world: Geneva, Shanghai and now Hong Kong. This exhibition is a crash course in all things Piaget with over 100 objects and historical documents offering a rare chance of getting to know the brand’s DNA intimately before making a purchase.

Speaking of intimate, I had the privilege of experiencing the flagship’s secluded VIP room for myself. As I slide into a plush armchair, a dedicated sales woman brings me a selection of magnificent Piaget creations. First out for my private viewing is the Piaget Rose Altiplano enamel watch. She explains how the rose motif that decorates the watch face is a special tribute to founder Yves Piaget’s fondness for the flower. My eyes light up when she adds that “only eight of these have been made.”

Next up is a real treat for my inner wannabe-princess: a diamond necklace from the ‘Couture Précieuse’ collection, which has been brought especially for the opening from the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. As my dedicated sales woman (aka favourite person on Earth) places the necklace on me, she explains how the design of this collection is inspired by embroidery used in haute couture. Feeling this 18-carat white gold work of art embrace the back of my neck is a sensation unlike any I have ever felt, not to mention the sight of 1,513 brilliant-cut diamonds, 133 baguette-cut diamonds, 4 pear-shaped diamonds and 11 rose-cut diamonds glinting back at me in the mirror, lighting me up in a way only high jewellery of this calibre can. Just as I think it could not possibly get any better than this, she presents the 18-carat white gold ring from the same line. Set with 242 diamonds, it literally looks as if a diamond flower has bloomed on my finger, its stem stretching out across to my knuckle.

Next up: a drink at the second floor jewellery bar, a unique feature to this flagship. It proves to be a great spot to think over potential purchases. In the case of my fellow ‘bar mate,’ she’s going for the limited edition pink gold Piaget Rose pendant. Created to celebrate the inauguration of the Mandarin Oriental flagship, it is set with rare mandarin orange garnets.

Making my way out the front doors, I stand back and take in the shining exterior. To think that the first Piaget boutique opened 53 years ago, who could have foretold that in 2012 it would dominate so many international markets and claim homes in the legendary Place Vendôme in Paris, the glamour-filled Fifth Avenue in New York, and now here within one of the world’s most iconic hotels? When it comes to Piaget, theirs is a story we love to tell time and time again.
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