For Watches and Wonders 2023, Piaget pays homage to its most flamboyant and evocative designs from the 1960s and 1980s, returning to its watchmaking and jewellery roots. Here, expertise and artistry meet innovation and bravado in the form of fresh timepieces that throb with the Piaget spirit.
The Piaget Maison has long been guided by the principle, “Always do better than necessary.” That original inspiration lives on in modern works that feature goldsmithing, ornamental stonework, or high jewellery gem-setting that radiate with a unique energy; works that also feature bold, daring design and a special frisson between the past and the present.
The guilloché technique in watchmaking served as inspiration for Piaget’s Palace Decor, which was created in the 1960s. An expert engraver starts by incising a gold bracelet’s links with the pointed end of an echoppe, sculpting a variety of stylized grooves and outlines with varying depths and widths. The end result is beautiful because of its uniqueness and the fact that it is not perfect. The Palace Decor has made its way onto a new cuff watch for Watches and Wonders, and the dial is a stunning robin’s egg blue turquoise. However, Piaget has mastered a total of one hundred distinct engraving techniques, any one of which can be used to create the stunning pieces of jewellery shown here.
These three stunningly modern timepieces are a reinterpretation of the cuff watches that became a symbol of Piaget’s boldness and innovative approach to the fashion industry in the 1960s and 1970s. The signature oval dial is partially obscured by the gold work of the bracelet that appears to grow over the case and ornamental dial, emphasising the naturalistic theme; this organic design is a nod to the free-form, hyper-naturalism of 1960s and 1970s jewellery. Piaget’s dedication to the Métiers d’Or is on full display in these cuffs, which feature intricate hand engraving in a variety of patterns and textures.
The variety of engraving techniques and approaches demonstrates the skill and creativity of the artisans who created them. Using the pointed end of a burin, the gold is incised by hand, one line at a time, with the lines varying in depth, width, and direction to achieve the desired effect. After each motion, the goldsmith will blow the surface clean of any stray shavings of gold. Intricate gold engravings never repeat. Inset in a diamond-framed case and dial of white opal, the opal’s scintillating rainbow colours seem to move with the ebb and flow of the goldwork, the bracelet is covered in diamonds to emphasise the engraving’s linear fluidity.
The classic oval dial of exquisite, intense, velvety turquoise is framed by sapphires in colour gradations that contrast with the rough, bark-like texture of the second cuff. The third white gold cuff, with its pattern of delicate ice crystals that creep over a dramatic black opal dial that flashes green and blue lights, conjures up an image of a frozen landscape; this effect is echoed in the frame of graduated emeralds.
Two more cuff watches, each featuring a bezel set opal and a design inspired by Piaget’s passion for the natural world—one with an evocative bark and vein finish, the other with a magnificent frost motif—shine a light on this artistry.
Each of the new cuff watches features an abstract, impromptu design, with the ornamental stone dials poking out from behind the cuffs to emphasise the mysterious beauty of the stones.