PIAGET, A STORY OF HIGH SOCIETY, HAUTE COUTURE AND HORLOGERIE
As Piaget embarks on a new creative adventure, the Maison rekindles the spirit of innovation that turned 1960s and 70s timepieces into thrilling contemporary objects of desire for the jet set.
For Piaget today, under the creative direction of Benjamin Comar, the way forward into a dazzling design-driven future is through the avant-garde icons of its glittering past.
Through the 2023 masterpieces and the strikingly contemporary architecture of the booth unveiled at Watches & Wonders, Piaget recreates the excitement of unexpected encounters between audacity, ingenuity and mesmerizing mastery.
CULTURAL LEGACY – A CREATIVE ADVENTURE MARKS A MOMENT IN TIME
In 1969, at the Basel Fair, Piaget revealed the arresting creations of the 21st Century Collection; a prophetic name for a spectacular series of watches that daringly fused watch, jewellery, fashion and contemporary design. These jewel-watches drew the attention of the glamorous jet-set: a mix of artists, designers, actors, musicians, models, who made up the hedonistic, artistic intelligentsia whose undisputed leader was Andy Warhol.
It was a time of cultural ferment, of social, economic, artistic and fashion revolution, and the new youth-fuelled elite craved originality. They lusted after new jewels, symbols of success, to suit their casual yet opulent lifestyles. Piaget’s 21st Century jewel-watches – bold deep graphic openworked cuffs, lavishly textured gold chain bracelets, velvety rich coloured ornamental stones, and the swinging, sassy, sautoir pendant watch, that became a quintessential jewel of the 1970s. All delivered the thrill of this new take on time.
The Maison had come a long way since its founding in 1874, in the family farmhouse, outside Geneva. The pioneering spirit of the founder, Georges-Édouard Piaget, had gathered momentum through the generations, resulting in the development of an ultra-thin movements in the late 1950s; an invention that had the effect of liberating design. In the 1960s, it was Valentin Piaget’s inspired idea to send his designers to Paris to see the couture catwalk shows. Back in the studio, they painted gouache designs on pages torn from fashion magazines, capturing the radically different energy from Paris fashion, dreaming up watches that doubled as jewels and danced to the beat of a new generation.
So much of Piaget’s cultural legacy comes from close creative collaborations and relationships with boundary-breaking contemporary artists : Salvador Dali, Hans Erni or Arman, leader of the New Realism art movement. These relationships, and the appeal of Piaget’s art-watches, gained the maison a place at the heart of the international artistic society of the 60s, 70s and 80s. But perhaps Piaget’s most influential, high-profile and enduring relationship was with Andy Warhol. Warhol owned seven Piaget watches, including a 1974 gold ingot watch with an ultra-thin hand-wound movement and the first timepiece driven by a Swiss quartz movement, the Beta 21. Yves Piaget became a close friend of Andy Warhol, travelling with him to events in New York, Palm Beach, Washington, joining him at Studio 54 and Regine’s. In 1983, Warhol even invited Yves Piaget to be the subject of a feature in Interview Magazine, with the young artist and gallerist, Robert Lee Morris as the interviewer.
PIAGET BOOTH 2023 – Marking the Maison’s fresh creative dynamism, inspired by its legacy, the sleek, contemporary architectural design of the striking new booth tells the story of Piaget’s path towards moder- nity and mastery. Here, the design of curvaceous layers suggests the cultural layers of Piaget’s legacy; the luxurious and colourful play on textures and materials tell of the preciousness and sensuality of the creations.
PIAGET’S CULTURAL RELEVANCE, its place at the heart of artistic society remains an enduring inspiration that is now re-imagined in the Society Bar in Piaget’s booth at Watches & Wonders. Here too in the Bar area, Piaget showcases a private collection of 10 bespok Warhol-inspired watches, one of the artist’s favourite Piaget possessions.
INNOVATION AND INSPIRATION
Piaget’s creativity is driven by the continual quest for tech- nical innovation. Imaginative ideas that come out of the design studio push artisans towards ever more sophisticated technical prowess, precision and perfection. While the wizards, alchemists and engineers working in the Innovation Centre are on a mission to find new solutions and dream up new techniques and materials, both for today and for the future.
A GOLDEN THREAD THROUGH TIME
“We create watches, we don’t producethem.” Famously said Yves Piaget. Piaget has always been and remains today a deeply personal Maison, with a focus on personal connections and relationships, and perhaps most of all with a human touch. The touch and feel of a Piaget watch on the wrist, on the body, the individual touch of each artisan, watchmaker, goldsmith, engraver and jeweller are all key.
Now the masterworks unveiled at Watches & Wonders, inspired as they are by Piaget icons and signatures, pay homage to these gold-working traditions and superb hand-skills, the Métiers d’Or, most notably of chain-making and engraving. Each artisan leaves an individual imprint, the human touch of gold.