Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Reviews -

Un­der its Art & Ex­cel­lence ban­ner, Pi­aget re­vives tra­di­tional metiers d’art with the sup­port of spe­cialised crafts­men. By work­ing with these ar­ti­sanal hands, it has en­sured that dec­o­ra­tive arts on the verge of be­com­ing ob­so­lete are brought back to life, and that these skilled ar­ti­sans are given a won­der­ful plat­form of ex­po­sure.

Even though metiers d’art has now be­come a buzz­word that many brands are es­pous­ing, Pi­aget’s in­ter­est in dec­o­ra­tive arts had started in the early 2000s, be­fore the trend re­ally picked up, says watch mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Franck Touzeau. He ex­plains, “In 2008, 2009, it was a trend to use these dec­o­ra­tive tech­niques, which proves that there are a lot of brands that are very op­por­tunis­tic as they just want to fol­low trends. As you know, Pi­aget never fol­lows trends. We fol­low the true DNA of our brand.”

A re­cur­ring theme in the Art & Ex­cel­lence col­lec­tion is the Pi­aget Rose, an icon for the mai­son. The Yves Pi­aget rose, named af­ter the de­scen­dant of the mai­son, of­ten blos­soms on the di­als of the Alti­plano watches, in a va­ri­ety of it­er­a­tions. For 2016, it has been in­car­nated in sculpted gold, and in wood and mother-of-pearl mar­quetry.

The for­mer was crafted by Dick Steen­man, a vet­eran of 25 years who spe­cialises in en­grav­ing and enam­elling. For Pi­aget, Steen­man has sculpted the golden flower pe­tal by pe­tal, care­fully and metic­u­lously keep­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the slim­ness of the dial.

Mean­while, Rose Sa­neuil was en­listed to com­bine wood and mother-of-pearl mar­quetry to em­bla­zon the like­ness of the rose onto the dial. When we spoke to the craftswoma­n at SIHH, she told us that she typ­i­cally works on larger plat­forms, in the form of jew­ellery boxes. Here, the chal­lenge was in minia­tur­is­ing her can­vas. She first starts by sketch­ing the rose, and then se­lects the pieces of wood like a painter pick­ing colours from a pal­ette, and pairs them with del­i­cate pieces of mother-of­pearl to craft the rose. It takes her 25 hours to fin­ish one dial.

When I asked her what skills are re­quired to be a crafts­man of her cal­i­bre, Sa­neuil said, “You need a lot of pa­tience, rigour and dex­ter­ity. It’s re­ally a con­trast be­tween some­thing that has a math­e­mat­i­cal limit and some­thing that is cre­ative with no lim­its. It’s a com­pro­mise be­tween the two; but it pleases me. I am very square, but very pas­sion­ate about art.”

Jewels & Time: Why the fo­cus on the Vel­vet this year? Lionel Favre: We launched the Vel­vet in 2012, and we’ve never re­ally pro­moted this line ever since. Still, it has be­come a strong pil­lar of the brand and is a suc­cess with­out pro­mo­tion. From the be­gin­ning, Vel­vet was de­signed as a woman’s watch and not a man’s watch with re­duced di­men­sions and di­a­monds.

J&T: Vel­vet has many links to fash­ion. But watch purists of­ten de­cry the as­so­ci­a­tion of fash­ion with watch­mak­ing. Do you in­tend to change per­cep­tions? LF: For us, it is not a prob­lem as we are dif­fer­ent from the rest. First of all, we do not have a huge his­tory. We write our own can­vas. We are not a fash­ion brand, we are watch­mak­ers and we know ex­actly who we are. We want to high­light watch­mak­ing with the same spirit you have in haute cou­ture, not ready-to-wear.

This year, we worked with the Parisian shoe­maker Mas­saro. He worked on cre­at­ing a leather strap for the Vel­vet; it’s very soft and the pat­tern is a plaited gold. We also worked on the dial to adapt to the strap. It’s not a fash­ion prod­uct. You have a beau­ti­ful piece of jew­ellery with the Geneva Seal— we don’t want to use quartz.

J&T: Why Paraiba tour­ma­lines in black car­bon on the Black Vel­vet? LF: Car­bon is a con­tem­po­rary ma­te­rial, and Paraiba is a con­tem­po­rary stone—kind of, be­cause it was dis­cov­ered in 1988 so we con­sider it a new stone. I like this al­lu­sion: new stone, with a new ma­te­rial. The end con­trast is in­ter­est­ing. It was dif­fi­cult to find the ex­act same colours for the stones. This watch is patented, as it’s the first time we have set stones in car­bon. We put ti­ta­nium prongs in the car­bon be­fore set­ting the stone.

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