September 29, 2015
by Rob Nudds
New watches are being released all the time. Major brands are constantly tweaking their existing ranges to provide a new take on an old classic, a slightly different colorway to breathe life into a tired palette, a new complication slammed into an existing case… but it is rarer to see one of the big boys release a whole range of new timepieces at once. Today, on Wednesday September 30th, 2015, Piaget débuts the new “Secrets & Lights” collection, with the tag-line “A Mythical Journey by Piaget.”
There’s a lot going on here. The Piaget Secrets & Lights range features several new models in a variety of color schemes, bound by their shared inspiration: the historical Silk Route between Venice and Samarkand. The two cities each exert influence over the watches, with some mirroring the desert-inspired “Lights of Samarkand,” while others explore the “Secrets of Venice.” For me personally, this brought up some rather distinct memories. The last time I reviewed a watch that was based on Venice and acts of a secret nature, I found myself poring over two coital automatons (read the review of the Ulysse Nardin Erotica watch here).
Thankfully, Piaget have taken a more tasteful route in their mechanical manifestations of the city. Released today at the Watches & Wonders event in Hong Kong, the Piaget Secrets & Lights collection is an in-house crossover of Piaget’s Haute Joaillerie and Haute Horlogerie departments. The majority of these Piaget Secrets & Lights watches are very much more jewelry pieces than they are horological innovations, but they are stunning, nonetheless. The stand-out pieces, in my opinion, are as follows: The Piaget Altiplano Scrimshaw Engraving watch, which features an 18k pink gold case, framing a mammoth ivory dial engraved with the image of a falcon’s head; The Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu Gold Engraving watch, which is one watch with two cases in white gold, brilliantly set with diamonds totalling approximately 3.23cts, and featuring a night-time image of Venice; The Piaget Altiplano Gold Guilloché Dial watch, which sports the Mythical Journey logo on the case back and a gold dial with guilloché engraving inspired by Samarkand architecture.
And there is the Piaget Protocole XXL Micro Mosaic watch, which depicts a Venetian landscape in achingly beautiful fashion, with the dial image spilling out onto the case itself. The latter is my personal favourite of the whole Piaget Secrets & Lights collection, and definitely something I would wear because of the technical skill required to execute such a design to this level.
In terms of watchmaking interest, however, the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Large Moon Enamel watch can boast a moon-phase indicator and a 72-hour power reserve – a couple of nice features found on the in-house manufacture Piaget 860P movement that powers this piece. Its unusual case shape marks this piece as unique amongst its peers, and the richly colored enamelled dial screams for attention.
With so many watches to choose from in the Piaget Secrets & Lights collection, there is sure to be debate as to which deserve the most focus. Instead of analysing each piece here, it is probably more worthwhile to explain some of the history behind the range, and why Piaget saw fit to launch so many pieces in one fell swoop. Piaget’s connection to Samarkand seems to be one of respect for and appreciation of the city’s architectural reputation. It is convenient for the Swiss brand that Samarkand was linked to Venice by the Silk Route, as the Italian city has a much firmer link to Piaget, and one that certainly justifies these honorific creations.
Through techniques such as feather art, enamelling, micro-mosaic, and engraving, Piaget have recreated scenes of Venetian architectural splendour, most notably the Clock Tower, which was restored by Piaget in 1999. In addition to this concrete link, Piaget has paid homage to the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the city’s emblematic lion. With the Piaget Secrets & Lights collection comprising 93 jewelry creations and 38 watchmaking creations, it’s hard to summarise this immense offering. But Piaget do quite well by referring to their products as “marvels.” You may not like them all (or even any), but there is plenty to explore, and a wide-range of artisanal techniques on show. This creative and diverse range is on display at the Watches & Wonders event at the time of publication, and will soon be available for purchase worldwide. piaget.com