Piaget has been making watches for more than 145 years, making it one of the oldest watch Maisons in the world.
In 1874, in the small Swiss village of La Côte-aux-Fées Georges-Édouard Piaget set up his first workshop on the family farm at the age of just 19. From that day his motto; “always do better than necessary” has defined the values of the company. The reputation of Piaget watchmaking quickly travelled well beyond its home and Piaget was soon making watch components and movements for some of the most prestigious watch brands in the world. Piaget’s watches have always radiated femininity and excellence, with a desire to dream big, something that has continued through to today.
Fast forward 146 years and Piaget is continuing to celebrate the level of excellence put in place by its founder. By respecting its history but continuing to develop and innovate Piaget has garnered a huge following over the past two centuries. Its business in the Middle East sees it as one of the most beloved jewellery and watch brands in the region. Something that is celebrated by the Maison again and again.
Piaget’s CEO Chabi Nouri understands this market particularly well thanks to her Iranian heritage. A successful woman who worked hard to get where she is today. Nouri joined the Richemont Group in 1998 and after two decades she worked her way up to becoming Piaget’s first female CEO, in fact, the first female CEO in the whole of the group. This huge milestone was not only a personal success but on a global level, it allows Piaget to connect with likeminded women around the world. Here to discuss the heritage of the brand and how it continues to shine through, as well as the new novelties for 2020, we talk to Chabi Nouri.
What can you tell us about the novelties that were launched through the Watches & Wonders Digital platform?
There are many exciting novelties! First of all, this year, we celebrate the Extraordinary with the Limelight Gala novelties. We are launching new models featuring sapphire, diamonds, an aventurine glass dial and Palace Décor bracelet. They perfectly embody Piaget’s craftsmanship. The Palace Décor bracelet takes 8 hours to be hand- engraved and it is done by the same artisan from start to finish to make sure the same pressure is applied and hence the same design can be seen on the full bracelet. In addition, we have created four unique High Jewellery Gala watches. One features an Australian black opal with red hues. It is framed with blue sapphires and a colourful array of yellow and orange sapphires, as well as pink rubies.
And last but definitely not least, we unveiled the Altiplano Ultimate Concept: the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. In 2018, we launched the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, a 2mm watch, the exact same size as the original 9P movement. Except now, it is the whole watch which is 2mm thin. After presenting the concept, we aimed to convert this prototype into a sellable watch. This required us to validate technical solutions and develop new processes. We had to ensure its compatibility to be worn every day in any circumstance. Developing the thinnest mechanical watch in the world truly requires specific knowledge, expertise experience and an innovative spirit. The watch too at least six years of development from the first drawing to the finished pieces as we know it today. We had to completely rethink the construction of the movement, looking for “out of the box” solutions to make the dream come true. Above all, it required an “always do better than necessary” spirit to push the boundaries and never give up. We also wanted to go further by offering to personalize the watch, making it really unique! Thanks to an online app you can visualise our Altiplano Ultimate Concept and chose the colour of the bridges, the screws, the hands and even engrave your initials in a dedicated space on the dial. A real prowess for such a thin watch with components no thicker than a hair.
Of course, the launch was very different this year how do you think this digital platform has been successful in allowing you to connect with your audience?
I am sad we couldn’t meet in Geneva and physically present our novelties but luckily we could digitally unveil all our creations on the Watches & Wonders online platform. Going online actually allowed us to reach to a larger audience and share our passion for watchmaking and creativity with many more people!
What makes a Piaget watch unique?
The craftsmanship and know-how behind it. Piaget has more than 145 years of watchmaking expertise and jewellery know-hows, the combination of both makes Piaget very unique. There is a great fusion between the watch and jewellery worlds at Piaget. The brand has always shared very distinctive creations and celebrated the extraordinary. Piaget shares joy and its creativity enlighten our clients’ personalities.
What in your opinion are the prerequisites to creating an “Icon” watch today?
An icon should be timeless yet have a strong personality. It should be immediately recognizable. This is why our Limelight Gala watch is iconic. These watches can be passed from generation to generation and still be impactful for every woman. Its strong and sensual design makes the watch very unique.
How important is it to be inspired by Piaget’s heritage in its watchmaking?
It’s very important. Watchmaking is part of our DNA and is at the heart of the Maison. Piaget has been producing watches for 145 years. We have been expressing this art through the development of ultra-thin calibres and other audacious movements. We continue to keep this ultra-thin expertise in mind and continue to push it further. The launch of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the thinnest mechanical watch on the market is the perfect example. Every day with our innovations we further build and strengthen our heritage. Heritage is not only the past it is the future.
How do Piaget’s watches and jewellery complement each other?
While watchmaking has been our core business since 1874, the Maison started creating jewellery in the sixties, using special techniques and crafts which are still mastered today in our workshops. We are very lucky to have both worlds combined and I believe it gives Piaget creations such a distinctive style, as we are merging the best of both high watchmaking and jewellery crafts. This makes us unique with a strong heritage, giving us the advantage of expertise and experience. We are also expressing the perfect fusion of watches and jewellery through our Jewellery watches. This year we have unveiled the Piaget Polo Emperador skeleton fully paved with diamonds. These are exceptional pieces!
How is Piaget communicating with its customers during this time of when many cannot or are not going to the stores?
We have always been very close to our Piaget family and in these times, we see that distant contacts are very important. We have focused a lot on keeping in contact with our community thanks to the digital world. Our boutiques today are both offline and online and we have always had a strong online presence, so we will continue with that and do everything we can to offer the best digital experience possible.
What does the second half of 2020 hold for Piaget?
Even more novelties: watches, jewellery and also our High Jewellery collection, so stay tuned!
Will you be changing any of the strategies of the brand going forward?
We will keep focusing on what Piaget is about: craftsmanship, passion, know-how… we will continue to promote the Maison’s rich heritage: our expertise in ultra-thin watchmaking, our craftsmanship in jewellery and high jewellery continue to push the boundaries of innovation.
What can you tell us about Piaget and sustainability?
In 2019 for the first year ever, we have compensated 100% of carbon emissions. Our global emission has decreased. Our three sites have recycling systems, soft mobility is actively encouraged, thanks to the availability of electric bicycles, electric car parking and participation to public transportation. We continue to reduce, every year our carbon emissions linked to cars. 2019 also marked the beginning of a shift in our plastic consumption. Our principle is to ban single-use plastic whenever possible within the company.
Who is the woman that wears a Piaget watch today?
Women can be whoever they want to be. Characteristics such as inspiring, creative and daring are some of the traits of being a Piaget woman. We celebrate femininity and uniqueness, audacity and self- surpassing. These are some of the values that Piaget embodies.
How important is the Middle East to Piaget and how does the region fit into the brand’s strategy?
Piaget was one of the first Maisons to come to the region. We certainly have a longstanding history within the Middle Each and a very deep-rooted relationship with the people in the region. This makes it a key market and family to us. The Middle East is all about tradition and innovation which is also part of Piaget’s DNA. We have indeed had a very strong emotional connection with the region for 60 years, where Piaget has been part of so many important family moments and celebrations.
What can you tell us about the project that Piaget has recently done at Al Ula?
As we have always had a very strong and deep-rooted relationship with Saudi Arabia, it was very dear to our hearts to be able to connect with our clients in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Although Yves Piaget has been going to Saudi since the sixties, it was my first time, and it was absolutely breathtaking and definitely one of my most memorable trips to date.
We partnered with a spectacular project that links beautifully heritage, culture and creativity, Winter at Tantora in Al Ula. This unique long term partnership celebrates the same values and the spirit of bringing people living the Extraordinary!
We launched exclusive pieces that were seen for the first time at Winter at Tantora, such as the Sunlight Pendant in Lapis Lazuli which was inspired by the breathtaking starry sky of Al Ula during night time, as well as the radiant fully-paved Sunlight pendant. It was my last trip before this crisis and it has kept me dreaming until today, just a spectacular experience. I hope to be back soon.
What is the professional motto that you’re living by at this time?
The Maison’s motto: Always do better than necessary accompany us since the beginning and continues to push our creativity and inspiration. And in these times the family spirit of Piaget is more important than ever.