For a watchmaking and jewellery brand with nearly a century and a half behind it, Piaget has a lot of stories to tell. From its famous ultra-thin movements introduced at the Basel Fair in 1957, to the use of vibrantly coloured ornamental stones that have now become synonymous with the brand’s identity, its past is a rich resource that the brand can tap into, whilst at the same revealing new unknown stories never before told.
Which, as Cynthia Tabet, Global Product Marketing Director at Piaget, notes, is one of the reasons why the brand chose to create a golden pavilion with a colourful backdrop reminiscent of the landscape and colours of the South of France at Watches and Wonders this year.
Influenced by a key period in Piaget’s history, referencing not only the free-form design of the 1960s and 70s jewellery (a key period of the company’s fashion-focused creativity), as seen in the undulating golden walls, but also in the pattern and texture of those walls nodding to the brand’s expertise in the art of gold and engraving, the pavilion brought to life a key chapter of Piaget’s history and a way for its visitors to immerse themselves in its brand universe.
“It was really important to us to create a space where you can feel the spirit of Piaget, meaning that it's a very elegant brand, but at the same time very extravagant in the details,” said Tabet, in an interview with Luxury Society. “It's a brand that is warm, inviting, festive and likes to celebrate.”
“It's really about experience,” she said, adding that the space was more about making visitors feel like they were being transported to a different place. “It’s not just about showcasing the products and the novelties. It's not an extension of the boutiques here.”
“This is really what Piaget is about,” she added. "It's this expertise of a true watchmaker. This is where we come from…not only our technical know-how but also in our creativity, a lot of which comes from our savoir-faire in jewellery, from setting stones to gold engraving.”
Indeed for Piaget, its pavilion was just one element of a wider strategy for the brand, which under its chief executive Benjamin Comar who was appointed two years ago, is slowly unveiling a new path for the historic watchmaker and jeweller, one that focuses on casting a new light on its heritage and history to create its future.
“It's a new path that we're really started this year,” said Tabet, who previously worked for Cartier, first as a jewellery product manager helping to develop collections like the Panther and Paris Nouvelle Vague, before transitioning into marketing where she worked on the launch of the Love and Juste un Clou collection. “We're setting the tone. Piaget needs to be known. There are a lot of hidden secrets at Piaget, and it's important to present them to a larger audience, particularly as next year will be our 150th anniversary.”
As the year goes on, Piaget intends to reveal more stories; though Tabet was not at liberty to reveal the details, she did say that their marketing plans would slowly be shared, little by little, alluding to a much bigger vision of the celebration that the company has in mind for this landmark milestone.
“It's an ongoing process to build these types of brand strategies,” she said. “It takes time to emerge, to tell the story, to create watches, for the creative process between watches and jewellery (to happen). It takes time, especially when we also have such fierce competition.”
Indeed, there has never been a more competitive time for luxury watchmaking. As interest in the industry grows, and its audiences with it, so too does the need to capture the attention of luxury watch clients who have more than ample choice from the numerous watch brands out there to express their personal taste.
“Today, the competition is fierce, and we have very strong colleagues with very strong expertise. But I think there is room for everyone to express their specificities,” said Tabet. It's nice to have a challenge, so you are kept on your toes to continue to search for the next good idea. The pressure that artisans, the watchmakers, the jewellery makers, have to find the next good idea, ultimately may lead to the ultimate concept … but it's a healthy competition.”
Of the 43,000 unique visitors recorded at the end of the 7-day Watches and Wonders event, nearly double the number of attendees recorded the previous year, many represented the heightened interest from a new kind of luxury watch consumer, eager to learn more about the once hidden world of watchmaking.
There is a shift in the market, and it’s moving fast, Tabet reflected. “And what we see is that they want to really understand where we come from, what our expertise is and how we are different from one another."
“There are more and more watch enthusiasts,” she continued. “Especially with everything that happened last year on the secondary market, with the actions and records being broken… this is something that brought a wider audience into the watch world.”
Education about the brand is key to connecting with these new audiences, through storytelling about its history, its savoir-faire of both the watches and jewellery worlds, as well as its cultural significance during key moments in the past.
“They're looking for that,” said Tabet of the new luxury watch consumer. “They need to understand these things better, to better to purchase what they want to purchase, at the time they want to purchase them, for the reason they want to purchase because they're collectors: they don’t just stick to one brand. So they will pick and choose. So it's important for us to educate them.”
Another element of the customer journey that Piaget works to ensure is of the highest standard is how it communicates with its clients, both on and offline. “For us, it's really about consistency and continuity for the client,” said Tabet. “It's about their experience with the brand so we always balance both online and offline because our pieces are very high-end pieces as well. So the offline experience is very important, but at the same time, our clients are always connected. So it's also very important to be strong in both.”
“Everything we do offline also resonates online, on our website, and on all our digital platforms,” she added. “So it's a lot of training. It's a lot of communication.”
Luckily, Piaget's clients are clear about what they want and how they want it. “Personalisation is really something that is strong in our brand,” Tabet noted. “Piaget clients are very educated clients, in luxury, in arts. They know what they want,” she added. “They want to be different. They are looking for the next great thing. I like to call them people in the know and people in the now.”
Looking forward, Tabet has a positive outlook on the landscape of the luxury watch industry, despite the current global uncertainty lingering over markets. “We don’t know what is going to happen. But for me, post-COVID, and what we experienced in the last year where we reset a lot of things, and we refocused on a lot of things, people are going back to what’s important for them and looking more at what pleases them as well. This is what we saw.”
“With clients coming in locally, or online, what they are looking for is to reconnect,” she added. “For me, there are habits that will remain, and others that may fade away, and in luxury, people are looking to spend less, but better. I think this is something that will stick.”