Prepare To Be Dazzled By Piaget’s Artisan Of The Extraordinary Exhibitions

Prepare To Be Dazzled By Piaget’s Artisan Of The Extraordinary Exhibitions

Having mastered ultra-thin movements, Piaget began a rich vein of creativity in the 1960s, making spectacular jewelry watches. The brand is showcasing remarkable pieces from this era at its Geneva and Zurich boutiques until April 30, 2021.

By Steven Rogers

Given the number of watch companies that exist, it is rare to find one that can make entire movements in-house to power its timepieces. The Swiss watch industry, as we know, relies on a system of suppliers and subcontractors delivering parts to brands whose watchmakers assemble the final watch.

So, it is even less common, then, to find a watch brand that not only masters the manufacturing side of mechanical watchmaking but also excels at artisanal crafts – stone-cutting, gem-setting, and goldsmithing. Skills like those can help transform the final timepiece into an exquisite objet d’art.

Dual Virtuosity

With its historical movement workshop in La-Côte-Aux-Fées and jewelry and watch manufacture at Plan-Les-Ouates in Geneva, Piaget is one of those ultra-rare brands blessed with such two-fold virtuosity.

And it is currently celebrating its history as both a pioneering watch and movement maker and as a skilled creator of high-end jewelry and exceptional jewelry watches by putting on simultaneous exhibitions at its Geneva and Zurich boutiques.

Entitled “Artisan of the Extraordinary,” the event showcases a number of exceptional jewelry and non-jewelry pieces that Piaget started making at the dawn of the 1960s, fueled by the daring vision of Valentin Piaget, grandson of company founder Georges-Edouard Piaget, and the cultural and creative revolution that unfolded in this decade.

Burgeoning Expertise

The starting point for the exhibition is a relatively sober-looking piece, Piaget’s world-record-setting, time-only watch packing the 9P ultra-thin. A hand-wound movement, it measured just 2mm thick and first launched in 1957.

The development of the 9P and subsequent ultra-thin movements was significant because it gave the company a solid mechanical platform on which to begin to apply its burgeoning expertise in ornamental stone, precious stone, and gold.

And it was Valentin Piaget who played the key role in nurturing this mechanical and artistic savoir-faire. At the same time, he also encouraged the adoption of an audacious creative style that is very much on show at both exhibitions.

Deft Use of Colorful Stone

Visitors to the exhibitions can marvel at several spectacular pieces in a range of styles – “regular” watches, necklace watches, bracelet watches, and cuff watches. Moreover, the models on display feature resplendent dials, bezels, cabochons, and beads crafted from the likes of jade, coral, lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, malachite, and turquoise, deployed on their own or in combination with one another.

For each creation, the Piaget artisans who created the pieces have made deft use of the materials’ vivid color, eye-catching veins, and unique inclusions.

Impressive Goldsmithing and Gem-Setting

Equally impressive is how the gold was sculpted, hollowed, hammered, and beaded to make bracelets and necklaces flow like fabric or, in the case of the stunning cuff watches, take on structures and shapes inspired by nature.

Finally, the level of gem-setting prowess on display deserves mentioning, too. With radiant and intricate arrangements that feature diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires, the pieces in the “Artisan of the Extraordinary" exhibition reveal Piaget’s expertise not just in setting stones but also in choosing and executing the right cuts.

Bespoke Service

In addition to these remarkable creations, the exhibition also features other items evoking this golden age of extravagant creativity, including promotional poster artwork from the period and an original catalog for Piaget’s customization program at the time, Style Selector.

Understanding that bespoke features and unique finishes were all part of the luxury experience, Piaget introduced its Style Selector in the 1960s to offer customers the possibility of choosing the shape of their watch case, dial type, bracelet and the extent of the gem-setting.

It was a successful precursor to Piaget’s current bespoke service, Infinitely Personal, which gives clients the chance to customize either an Altiplano Tourbillon or Altiplano Ultimate Concept, with thousands of permutations on offer.

Exhibition Runs Until April 30, By Appointment Only

Piaget’s “Artisan of the Extraordinary” exhibition runs until April 30, 2021,at Piaget’s Geneva and Zurich boutiques. Viewing is by appointment only.

Piaget Geneva Boutique
Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm
Contact +41 22 817 02 00 or to make an appointment.

Piaget Zurich Boutique
Monday to Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm
Contact +41 442 12 10 40 or to make an appointment.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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