FOR THE L AUNCH OF IT S L ATE ST R ANGE OF WATCHES, PIAGET HAS FORMED AN ENVIABLE COLLECTION OF TALE NT.
Finding the right famous face to represent a company is a pretty big gamble. The stakes are raised when the appointed chiselled visage, and attendant manly hand, is charged with attracting a broader audience to a brand that’s been tinkering with watches and jewellery for the elite since 1874. Piaget’s Philippe Léopold-metzger is a man who likes to hedge his bets. For the release of the Piaget ‘Polo S’, the company’s first complete collection of stainless steel watches, the cautious chief executive wasn’t willing to place all of the emphasis on on new ambassador, and Hollywood’s latest bankable superhero, Ryan Reynolds. “We chose him because he’s nice looking and has a global reach,” says Léopold-metzger of Reynolds, with deadpan understatement. But just in case the appeal of the man named by US People magazine as both the Sexiest Man Alive and the Sexiest Dad Alive (who managed to turn the $77.4m movie Deadpool into a $1.04bn blockbuster) couldn’t deliver enough wrist action, eight “friends of the brand” were called into help. British polo player and Prince Harry wingman Malcolm Borwick, Swiss novelist Joël Dicker, Chinese actor and singer Hu Ge, Belgian tennis player David Goffin, Emirati entrepreneur and social media fiend Mohammed Sultan Al Habtoor, Japanese entertainer Miyavi and French chef Jean-françois Piège are all described as Piaget’s ‘gamechangers’ and will feature in the collection’s global promotion. “You cannot have success today in such a competitive market if you don’t have a strong marketing program,” says Léopold-metzger. “You won’t get the cut-through.” In this case, cut-through is essential, as Piaget strays from its familiar domain of late – dress watches and gag-inducing price tags – towards the relatively accessible $15,600 entry level for the ‘Polo S’ collection. The focus of the new collection is on preserving Piaget’s sophisticated and elegant edge while attracting new customers. The Piaget ‘Polo S’ features a cushion-shaped inner dial, a gentle nod by designers to the acclaimed ‘Emperador’, within a 42mm round case. The three-hand automatic Piaget ‘S’, powered by the 1110P movement, is available with a blue, white or grey dial. The Piaget ‘Polo S Chronograph’ is available with a silver or blue dial and is powered by the 1160P movement. “The way we’re going to work with all of those game-changers is that we’re going to leverage their social media,” says Léopold-Metzger. “You look at some of those guys and they have two million or 10 million people following them. I hope this will have a snowball effect and it’s instantly going to position the new watch in the world.” Ryan Reynolds has already posted product shots to his 5.9 million Instagram followers – captioned with his trademark quick-witted quips – as well as giving the appropriate statements at the collection’s star-packed launch in Brooklyn on a steamy July night. “There are very few items that men carry throughout their lives in terms of accessories, and a watch is one of them,” says Reynolds. “And this is one of the things I hope to pass along to my kids – I got my daughter’s initials on the back.
“Piaget is one of the most timeless institutions in the world and to be associated with them in any way, shape, or form is pretty magnificent.” Working just as hard to push the Piaget message is the final friend of the brand, Creed, The Wire and Friday Night Lights actor Michael B Jordan. At the launch, Jordan performed his ambassadorial duties alongside Reynolds with aplomb – the following day revealing his true timekeeping credentials. “I feel naked without one,” says Jordan, who owns 15 timepieces. “Once you get that nice fit, that precision, it definitely gives you confidence. Especially when you know what you have on your wrist.” Before taking on the gig, 29-year-old Jordan visited Piaget’s manufacturing facility. “When you know where this watch came from, and who made it, you know the value of it. It helps your confidence, without being flashy. You don’t have to be bright and sparkly to have value.” As well as beefing up his watch collection, Jordan is happy with his new Piaget-appointed moniker as a game-changer and someone who thinks differently. “I want to take risks,” he says. “With my career and things that I want to do in my community, and as a person, it’s about not always going with the grain.” While Jordan is content with precision in his timepieces, in movies he prefers to allow room for error. “You have to plan to be precise but you also have to leave room for magic and art, so there’s a certain freedom in improvisation. There are certain things that you can’t calculate.” For Léopold-metzger, precision counts for all – adamant the ‘Polo S’ collection will appeal to the Australian market, even without any antipodean game-changers out front. “This will be a good product,” says Léopold-Metzger. “Australia’s a competitive market.” The company is still looking for a location to set up an Australian flagship boutique, with Léopold-metzger lamenting the skyrocketing rental prices of Sydney and Melbourne. “I’ve been looking at the retail market for a long time. Ideally, I’d open a store but the prices are crazy. There is a market, though.” For now, he’s content to have dealt with Piaget’s own price problem. “Sometimes prices have gone out of hand,” he admits. “There is a need today for value for money. What you need is a product that’s going to be great, at an accessible price. Accessibility is something that every brand, including an exclusive brand like Piaget, needs to have.”
STAINLESS STEEL ‘POLO S’ WATCH, $15,600, BY PIAGET.
CLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT: RYAN REYNOLDS AND MICHAEL B JORDAN SPORT THE ‘POLO S’; JORDAN AND PIAGET BOSS LÉOPOLD-METZGER.