Piaget is always one of the highlights of my visit to SIHH, as I have a very deep appreciation for Piaget’s heritage as a movement maker. In addition, I enjoy talking with Philippe Leopold-Metzger, Piaget’s president, as we share a love of fine timepieces and American football (he supports the New York Giants and my team is the Philadelphia Eagles). Here’s some of what he had to say during this year’s SIHH.
"We have to make sure the products make sense, as the market is becoming more price sensitive, impacted by the currency that is quite strong. People are interested in new products, but there has to be value for money. One we have been working on for quite a long time, due to the price of gold, is the Altiplano in red gold with a red gold bracelet. We have been working on producing it at a more affordable price than before. The price range is $27,500 - $38,000, which is a great range. The Polo, for example, is almost double the price. We did a good job designing this for cost. We had to have a more attractive entry price for a Piaget gold watch."
On new products:
"We need to find the right mix between showing too many products, where you lose the focus of the press, who will remember nothing, so we thought this year it was important to focus and bring a collection that makes sense commercially."
Strap or bracelet?
"More and more men are going for the strap, but women in general really want a bracelet. Bracelet watches are about 25% of our sales."
Quartz or mechanical for women?
"I still believe that a lot of women are happy with quartz, but we have to have mechanical watches in the line. Women like small complications, like the moon, that add to the beauty and the aesthetics."
What is the most important product this year?
"For me, it's the Altiplano Chronograph. It is an ultra-thin flyback chronograph with a second time zone. We have the thinnest case, 8.24 mm and the thinnest movement at 4.65mm. For elegance, I think it's important to have thin watches.
"At Piaget, we for so many years have neglected to talk about the movement production. So, we took one segment that was out of favor, the ultra thin, and decided to focus on this, which really requires tremendous movement expertise. The taste of the customer has changed -- the client today is interested in having a very thin, classic watch in their collection.
"We have been making movements for 140 years, and we have been doing high jewelry since 1960. We are not at all unhappy about being known as a great maker of jewelry watches and jewelry, and this is an area where we will continue to concentrate. But we have to tell the movement story as well. After all, 85% of expensive watches are mechanical movements. Men buy almost only mechanical, so if we wanted to have critical mass, we needed to be good for men and good for women. Jewelry watches are not going to be able to carry us."
On the new ambassador:
"Jessica Chastain is our new ambassador. We are going to take the USA more seriously. It's an important market, but it's a difficult market. We are active in a number of cities, but you can go broke very quickly.
"We have to regain power in the US. We have had to completely review our strategy. We have to develop the local clientele. Communication is the name of the game. The great challenge is that we are going to have great product, great pricing and drive people into the store in the US."