Piaget & Co. was founded in 1874 by Georges Piaget, a farmer turned
watchmaker in the village of La-Cote-aux-Fees, who began assembling watches to
earn extra money during the meagre winters. Not much is known about the
company's early years, except the fact that his sons eventually took over the
business and guided their father's company through two world wars and the Great
Prior to World War II, Piaget watches were marketed through other companies,
who engraved their own names on the dials. Following World War II, however, the
founder's grandsons Gerald and Valentin Piaget took over and embarked on an
ambitious plan to give their grandfather's company a stronger identity in the
marketplace. A new collection of wristwatches was premiered and caused quite a
sensation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Foreign markets such as the United States opened up during the 1950s and this
led to the establishment of branch offices in New York, Geneva and Germany. It
helped that the company introduced a number of innovative movements during this
period, such as the ultra-thin nine ligne "9P" movement. This allowed Piaget to
create a popular series of elegant, ultra-thin wristwatches for both men and
women. Another commercially successful movement was the "12P", which was the
world's thinnest automatic watch movement until 1967.
During the 1960s, the company bought up several case and bracelet manufacturers.
This allowed for strict quality control. Over the next few years, Piaget's
market focus changed. The watches themselves took on the appearance of fine
jewellery. Dials were available in a number of styles and the materials used
became increasingly exotic. Most tellingly of all, there were more jewellers
than watchmakers employed by the House.
Nevertheless, though Piaget did not shy away from embracing the new quartz
technology, it continued manufacturing mechanical wristwatches. As other
companies, such as Rolex and Omega, began to dominate the "sports watch" area,
Piaget made a sensible marketing decision and decided to specialize in the dress
and jewellery watches.
Thanks to such successful models as the popular Polo watch, which features an
extremely appealing solid gold bracelet, Piaget emerged from the 1970s as one of
the world's most successful watch companies. In fact, the Polo watch was such a
desirable status symbol that it spawned a number of counterfeit watches. Piaget
successfully brought the counterfeiters in Hong Kong and Italy to court, putting
an end to the problem.
Today, Piaget is known for its bejewelled ladies watches and solid gold dress
watches. Although complicated watches continue to be assembled in limited
quantities, most Piaget watches are more or less jewellery-oriented. To wit, it
should come as no surprise that in a single year, Piaget purchases several
thousand carats of the highest quality gemstones, as well as five tons of gold.
It should also be mentioned that every component in a Piaget watch, aside from
the movement, is made of solid gold -- even the dials!
In closing, despite the obvious intrinsic value of Piaget watches, they are also
amazingly beautiful timepieces -- refined, rare, meticulously hand-finished
using the finest materials and unique in design. Perhaps the president of Piaget
put it best when he remarked: "You don't read the time from a Piaget, you admire