In a Little Village in Switzerland
La Côte-aux-Fées, located in the Jura mountains in the Neuchatel region, is home to the Maison Piaget. It was in this isolated hamlet that Georges Piaget set up his first workshop on the family farm in 1874. He was 19 years old. In the beginning, Georges dedicated himself to manufacturing components and high precision movements that he supplied to some of the most prestigious Swiss watch brands.
Timothée Steps In
In 1911, Georges’ son, Timothée, took over the reins of the company. He moved Piaget in a new direction, producing luxury pocket watches and wristwatches.
With the advent of weapons of war that required precise timing to detonate, there was an ever-increasing demand for wristwatches by the military. By 1917, wristwatches were issued to soldiers in the field. When they returned home, those same soldiers, who had become accustomed to their timepieces, fueled the desire for wristwatches. But, unlike the utilitarian watches issued by the military, many ex-soldiers wanted a look that would complement their civilian attire. Piaget was there to meet the demand.
The Next Generation of Watchmakers
Gerald and Valentin Piaget continued to grow the business, acquiring a registered trademark for the brand in 1943. To accommodate the ever-increasing demand for their watches, Piaget also built a large, new manufacturing facility in La Côte-aux-Fées, which opened in 1945.
Beyond the Movement
Piaget continues to receive accolades for its precision movements. Valentin set out to go a step further, by creating a signature look for the watches that would bring exquisite style to the prestigious brand. The Emperador men’s watch continues to be one of the best-loved watches and the Maison’s signature model. In 1957, Valentin created the mechanical hand-wound 9P caliber wristwatch, which created a sensation at the Basel Fair that year. Three years later, Piaget invented a micro-rotor concept, and the thinnest automatic movement in the world, the 12P. Its thickness was 2.3 mm, a feat documented by the Guinness Book of World Records. With the creation of these movements, Piaget reaffirmed itself as the brand of choice for elegant timepieces.
Creating Fine Jewelry
In 1959, Geneva became home to the first Salon Piaget, a place where, according to Piaget, they could share the creativity of their designers and the savoir-faire of their artisans. It was here that their first jewelry creations debuted, along with their popular timepieces. Geneva was also the place where Piaget set up studios where master craftsmen could hone their goldsmithing and gem-setting skills, thus making Piaget an autonomous watch manufacturer.
It was also during this period that Piaget excelled in the art of pavé, by creating fully pavéd watches that quickly became an icon of the Maison.
“Do What Has Never Been Done Before”
This motto was Valentin Piaget’s directive to his designers. In 1963, Piaget launched the first watch created with dials decorated with over 30 types of ornamental stones. Among the gemstones used were lapis lazuli, turquoise, onyx and tiger’s eye. Next came the 21st Century Collection, featuring cuff watches and pendant timepieces.
High-profile personalities were charmed by Piaget, and their watches adorned such notable celebrities as Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren.
Given the level of inventiveness that Piaget embraced, it was no surprise that artists such as Salvador Dalî were eager to partner with the famous watchmaker to create timely works of art.
Yves Piaget and the Polo Watch
Fascinated by horses since childhood, it seemed inevitable that Yves G. Piaget, Georges’ great-grandson, would gravitate toward polo, the sport of kings. After all, polo is an elite hobby that requires a precise discipline. In 1979, Yves combined his love of the game with his family’s business, and the Piaget Polo watch was born. The ultimate in casual chic, the Piaget Polo, reflected a combination of luxury and sport. Polo was an ideal association for the revered watch brand. Yves G. Piaget, Georges’ great-grandson, was instrumental in promoting his new creation, further enriching the Maison’s image and firing up demand for the Polo Watch.
Nearing the dawn of the Twenty-first Century, Piaget created Possession, an original jewelry collection featuring exceptional craftsmanship and breathtaking creations. Other lines launched included Tanagra, Limelight, and Miss Protocole, a timepiece with interchangeable straps. In 1998, Piaget presented Altiplano, an ultra-thin watch. Updated in 2014, the Altiplano 900P is a mere 3.65 millimeters – the world’s thinnest hand-wound mechanical watch.
In 2019, Piaget celebrated its 145th Anniversary. To this day, the prestigious watchmaker continues to delight and inspire with its precision timepieces and timeless jewelry designs.
Awards and Prizes
- 2000: Piaget was awarded the Watch of the Year for its Emperador Model. The jury of Montres Passion gave the prize.
- 2002: The Piaget 1967 received the Design Watch Prize at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.
- 2006: The Limelight Party watch was elected Most Beautiful Watch of 2006 by the magazine Vogue Joyas Spain.