Chabi Nouri, former CEO of Piaget has taken it all in her stride since joining the brand in 2017 and her reign as one of the few female CEOs in the watch and jewellery industry, will leave a lasting mark on the Maison. She may be outnumbered by men in the industry, but that doesn’t stop her from moving forward with continuing the heritage of the brand and implementing her future vision for the Maison. Piaget has always been a Maison that touches the hearts and emotions of its clients and under Nouri’s guidance has continued to do so with the introduction of the Piaget Society and the localising of its activations and products, especially in the Middle East.
As part of the recent Watches & Wonders virtual exhibition, Piaget presented its latest watch novelties that pay homage to the craftsmanship of the House. Preserving crafts is something that has always been key to the brand and the newest watches in the portfolio continue this theme by showcasing the best of Piaget’s expertise in fine watchmaking. Bringing the gap between the worlds of jewellery and watches Piaget has a unique perspective that allows them to really stand out from others and create a unique niche that touches the hearts of its clients. Its Limelight Gala watch has become an icon and this year it returns in the form of the new Limelight Gala Precious timepieces which are offered in three colours: blue, yellow and pink, representing the three colours of the sky throughout the day and featuring exquisite gemstones and diamonds. Following the launch of the Piaget Polo Skeleton earlier this year, the brand unveils four new versions of this watch with 18-carat gold cases that showcase the craftsmanship of the Maison. For the new gold-cased versions, the Maison has taken its already ultra-thin, self-winding movement and pared it down to place its key components at centre stage. And finally, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is a watch dedicated to the village where Georges Edouard Piaget founded his eponymous company in 1874 and the craftsmanship that takes place at this iconic location. Here, with Chabi Nouri, we discover more about the latest novelties as well as getting a glimpse into the upcoming high jewellery collection and the future vision for Piaget.
You recently presented the latest Piaget watch novelties as part of Watches & Wonders – what highlights can you share with us from this year’s event?
This year, with the latest novelties we are mirroring the message of “grace” that we want to share. We have managed to shine a light on our craftsman and craftswomen which is something we wanted to do this year. Also following the award that we won at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2020 we wanted to highlight our people, so that’s what we have done with these watches. Doing that means
having novelties that fully express Piaget and every novelty that we launched this year is completely aligned with our DNA and focuses on the craftsmanship that we have in-house. We have had excellent feedback on the new Limelight Gala watches as well as great on the Piaget Polo Skeleton which is a very interesting piece, and of course, there’s our Altiplano Ultimate Concept which is a very iconic line that in a way, has now been completed with the new references.
This is the second time you participate digitally with Watches & Wonders – how was that experience and how were you staying close to your clients in such times?
This year we had a lot more time to prepare compared to last year, which was great. We also had a physical event that took place in Shanghai. I honestly think that digital events are a great platform. It’s a good way to let a lot of people into our world and allow those that are curious to understand our story and our craftsmanship. It allows us to spread our passion further and we can touch a lot more people. No, we don’t have the exclusive time with people that we had at the physical events, aside from in China which sadly I wasn’t able to go to, but I think the best recipe will be when we have both platforms working alongside each other. I do believe that we should have both moving forward.
As for keeping in contact with our clients it has been very interesting because we have had a full year now of communicating via Zoom and it has worked well. I think we have done a good job at communicating with our partners, the press, and our clients. And our salespeople have also been transforming themselves into live streamers and allowing people to connect with them. We have had great tools to be able to do that and now we are also launching and developing more tools to continue this journey of full integration between online and offline. As you know, Piaget started very early on with the E-business, so this type of culture has been very strong at the Maison for a long time and therefore it wasn’t difficult for us at all.
Are we expecting a beautiful high jewellery collection this year and is there any hint or message you can share with us about it?
Yes. We were lucky to have our manufacture working throughout the past year and so we will be able to launch a new high jewellery collection this summer. We will continue with the themes of Piaget and continue to anchor our key messages. It’s going to have a very joyful and festive theme. You will see exceptional pieces that continue to use all the different crafts that we have in our jewellery department and all the different combinations that we can do at Piaget, so hopefully, you will be very surprised.
As things start to move forward after the pandemic, what is the main challenge that you’re facing now?
First of all, we’re still in a pandemic so we still have all the challenges related to this. We are not all back at work and in a lot of places things are still not good. We are an international Maison so we have a lot of clients, partners and employees around the world and we’re still in a tough moment that continues to add to the challenges. I would say that’s the main challenge that we have today because yes, we all want there to be light at the end of the tunnel and we all want to celebrate and be together with our families again, but we need to continue to be very careful and protect ourselves and our people. We’re still in the middle of it and of course, we see the positives and that there is going to be an end, but we must be cautious and manage it properly. We don’t have any other challenges related to coming out of the pandemic because we have continued to keep the same strategy throughout and we have not changed our products or marketing during this time. We have kept very consistent as that’s what we felt we needed as a company, but also for our clients we wanted to keep that consistency and authenticity as they are the most important values, especially during these times.
What can we expect to see from Piaget in the Middle East?
It’s a market we love, and in a way, it has been with Piaget since very early on and that’s why I think the brand is so closely linked to the region. The people and the clients in the Middle East who have been seduced by Piaget throughout our history have had a super strong emotional link to the brand and through that, we have created so many cool creations for the region. We have created many pieces in partnership with our clients and that’s why Piaget is so dear to their hearts. So yes, there is a love for the region and there is also the element that our crafts represent the region, hence, we are very aligned, but at the same time, we need to continue to develop Piaget in the region. We entered every market in the region several decades ago, but we are continuing to open new stores and have exclusive partnerships like the recent partnership with Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. We are also working with a school of young talents that are using their hands to continue to sustain local crafts and we are developing that with them, with the support of a Swiss design school. So that’s also something that shows the willingness for Piaget to continue to be in the region. And we are continuing the “Extraordinary Women” campaign with its second chapter which is also a way to highlight the extraordinary women in the region who express themselves with boldness, audacity, strong personalities, and exceptional talent. This year the idea is to have the exceptional women mentoring the younger generation to be able to continue to train young people and to keep these local crafts moving for the next generations.
How important is it that Piaget continues to work on localised projects?
It’s super important and that’s what we as a brand have always been open to doing. Also, our Style Selector concept shows our willingness to partner with clients and therefore special edition pieces or capsule collections will continue to exist. Jewellery and watches today are of course part of one’s personality and an accessory, but at the same time it’s about carrying centuries of heritage within one piece and the reality is that we can offer that because we still have these historical crafts and people that can do them. So I think having something that is even more tailored to a client – be it a capsule, a special edition or a co-creation – gives much more weight to it and there is usually a super strong emotional link. Having the possibility to inject something a bit more local or personalised is very important because clients will never see that piece in the same way they see a more generic piece.
What is your vision for Piaget in the coming years?
I hope that we will continue to do what we do, meaning that we will continue to show strong signatures and to express the diffusion of the two worlds of jewellery and watches that are very dear to us. It’s not only about just having jewellery and watches but bridging them and that’s what I think we do best, especially when you look at this year’s new collections. So I hope we will continue to push that and continue to be known and recognised for that. And finally, to continue to be authentic. That is a key pillar for Piaget, to be authentic and true to ourselves because this is what our clients and our community like about us and we want to be very close to them. I think Piaget has that special, amazing culture of being really close to its people.
What is a challenge and a success story that you can share with us from your time at Piaget?
I am very proud of my team’s work because I think we have created a lot of very successful elements; the rejuvenation and the reconfiguration of the Maison and the fact that we have shined a light again on all our crafts. We were very successful in showing our authenticity with our “Extraordinary Women” campaign. I think we are also proud of being continuously pioneering and continuing the spirit of Piaget of trying, testing, and exploring. This is what we have done with the digital world for example where we were not only the first ones to be available on Net-A-Porter but also the first ones to showcase high jewellery on Instagram. Nobody was doing this before. We are super proud of all these elements.
When it comes to challenges, yes, we had to face a lot of challenges. Some challenges lie in difficult times as we have now, but I usually see them as opportunities. We have developed the jewellery business very strongly which was not the case before and by doing that of course we had to explain why it’s important to put jewellery at the forefront and why it is a credible, legitimate part of Piaget. You must invite people into the journey with you. So these are huge opportunities and of course, it takes time and it takes a vision to do that. So I think we have been able to develop and to grasp a lot of opportunities through seeing challenges in this way.
What is a motto that you live by?
For me personally, it’s to always live my life to the fullest. I don’t always succeed but at least I aim to succeed in this and to have some joy every day.
What is a message you would send to your clients and fans in the Middle East?
I would ask for people to realise how much Piaget is linked to the region.