Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon: Piaget is setting a new thinness record with the Altiplano 900P. Why are you continuing to explore this particular avenue?
Franck Touzeau: Piaget has always been determined to develop ultra-thin calibres. Ultra-thin expertise is indeed the very essence of our House and we yearly introduce timelessly elegant models reflecting this theme. Even when the trend was all about bulky watches, five years ago, Piaget never gave in to that particular siren song. Our strategy built around ultra-thin movements and watches is not at all opportunistic, since we have been working in this field for over 50 years. This fact deserves to be made known, because the brand has genuine talent in this domain and yet is not always acknowledged for it, even though all our partners now appreciate Piaget as the master of ultra-thin horology.
How did you set about creating the 900P?
The philosophy of the House is quite simple: when one has the good fortune to work with ultra-thin calibres, that reality unleashes creativity in terms of the case, the design and various daring developments. This synergy was clearly apparent in the cooperation on this project between our site at La Côte-aux-Fées, which handled the case development, while the Geneva-based design studio strove to find every possible means of reducing the space between the various components inside the watch. The resulting Altiplano 900P is the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, featuring a case-back that serves as the movement mainplate.
Piaget is once again keenly involved in the field of artistic crafts. Isn’t this expression becoming a little commonplace?
Artistic crafts are part of Piaget’s history, since we made our first enamelled watches in 1964 and 1965; in 2001, when we began to redevelop this field, we built a partnership with Anita Porchet, who is in my view the world’s leading exponent of this art. She is a worthy student of Suzanne Rohr, who was herself apprenticed under the renowned enamellist Charles Poluzzi. For anyone acquainted with the enamelling craft, the kind of communication one sometimes sees these days around certain models is a sacrilege. It’s very easy for a brand to lie and say: “we do enamelling too”. There is an incredible confusion surrounding these artistic crafts. This segment of the market should show authentic respect for traditions, especially when the expertise has been cultivated for over a century – and in Geneva as well! Who can currently claim to be capable of creating an opalescent enamelled miniature? Very few people indeed, which is a pity because the technique is simply fabulous!
"Piaget is a confidential and elitist brand"
Skeleton-working is also a Piaget speciality. How are you illustrating it this year?
In 2005, Piaget became the first brand to develop full-set gold skeleton movements. In 2010, others started to hop on the bandwagon, but we soon realised that none of them were capable of gem-setting the functional parts of the calibre. This year, we are introducing a new mechanical hand-wound movement entirely dedicated to women in a full diamond-set 34 mm size. It’s a true diamond lacework. We are also releasing an Exceptional Piece, the Piaget Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic Skeleton. Above and beyond the carefully calibrated stones adorning the bezel, this model features the world’s thinnest tourbillon movement developed in a skeleton version, set with baguette-cut diamonds for the first time in watchmaking history. This movement is gem-set on the dial side, on the back and also on its profile – a world-first achievement. This is a new way of showing that Piaget is a confidential and elitist brand. We continue to focus on exclusivity and we keep raising the bar in the development of our specific strengths.