Piaget showcases extravagant collection on the Bund
The century-old Wai Tan Yuan area in Shanghai has throughout history hosted many exhibitions featuring precious watches and jewelry, but the latest one on April 15 by Swiss luxury watchmaker and jeweler Piaget may just take the cake.
Held in the former British Consulate General, the exquisite collection comprises 79 pieces of jewelry and 28 watches. While the 142-year-old company, now owned by luxury conglomerate Richemont, declined to reveal the combined value of the precious stones on show, the exhibition guide at the site did mention that the top three pieces each had a starting price of 8 million yuan ($1.24 million).
“We are very happy to sell our products to Chinese people during their travels, but we also want to show and distribute the products in China,” said Philippe Léopold-Metzger, CEO of Piaget SA, when asked about the decision to hold the exhibition in Shanghai.
The one-day exhibition, which was concluded with a gala dinner, was exclusive to a handful of the brand’s VIPs, characterized by Metzger as “professional shoppers” and much younger than their overseas peers.
The average age of customers who can afford the brand’s offerings in China is 35. In contrast, such customers are aged between 40 to 50 in Europe. Moreover, Chinese customers aged between 25 and 30 have also displayed a keen interest in buying what the brand categorizes as “accessible jewelries” that are priced around 20,000 yuan.
Consultancy firm Bain & Company estimated in its latest report that despite the overall China luxury market declining by 2 percent to 113 billion yuan in 2015, the jewelry segment, on the contrary, experienced a 7 percent jump year-on-year. However, only 30 percent of luxury goods spending was made within the shopping malls and boutique stores in the Chinese mainland.
Piaget, which first started as a watch manufacturer and did not have a registered trademark until 1943, has not revealed its sales figures. Metzger did however admit that the year of 2015 was one of consolidation.
“We are optimistic and will continue to open stores. We are looking at things from a long-term perspective and believe the market in China will continue to grow,” said Metzger.
Since entering China in 2002, the company now has 45 points of sales, 25 of which are independent boutique stores. It plans to open another five boutique stores within the next three to five years.
“There has been a question in the luxury sector about whether a brand can have too many stores. But I think stores and distribution are part of the brand education,” said Metzger.
Chinese actress Gong Li was in attendance at the Piaget exhibition in Shanghai.