Cover The Limelight Gala in gold with a malachite dial, and a designer’s rendering of the watch (Photo: Courtesy of Piaget)

Piaget made its first foray into jewellery watches in the 1960s, and the Limelight Gala perfectly depicts the maison's timeless blend of history and innovation

When he founded his first watchmaking workshop in La Côte-aux-Fées, a small village in the Swiss Jura mountains, in 1874, Georges-Édouard Piaget adopted the motto “Always do better than necessary.”

In the 1920s, Georges-Édouard’s son Timothée Piaget ambitiously advanced the philosophy, evolving the family company from primarily a maker of movements to a full-fledged manufacture, celebrated for creating some of Switzerland’s finest luxury pocket watches and wristwatches.

Under the guidance of the third generation in the Piaget clan, Gérald and Valentin, the brand began to find an enthusiastic global audience and commenced cementing a reputation for innovative ultra-thin movements.

In 1957, the same year that the ground-breaking mechanical hand-wound movement calibre 9P shocked and awed attendees of the Basel watch fair with its incredible 2mm slenderness (making it one of the slimmest mechanical movement to have been made), Piaget committed to only working with precious metals—gold and platinum.

See also: The slimmest manual and self-winding watches

The step was taken in order to ensure the cases of the manufacture’s watches were of equal quality and nobility to the movements within. Thanks to this commitment, over the subsequent decades, a peerless pedigree in goldsmithing expertise and design savoir-faire has crystallised at the manufacture.

In 1960, Piaget launched the 2.3mm-thick (or perhaps, we should more accurately say, 2.3mm-thin) 12P self-winding mechanical movement—yet another demonstration of the house’s finesse and technical innovation.

The Swinging Sixties and glamorous seventies were a fabulous era for Piaget, the house’s lavish aesthetic, svelte lines and sense of inventive modernity truly a perfect fit for the times.

Piaget had already made fully diamond-paved watches a trademark, developing an unparalleled expertise in gem-setting. Pushing his designers further in the early sixties, Valentin Piaget decreed, “Do what has never been done before.”

They responded by launching the first watches to feature dials made of ornamental stone, as well as audacious materials such as peacock feather. Icons of the day, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí, championed the brand’s jewellery and timepieces.

See also: Enter the kaleidoscopic universe of Gucci’s high jewellery collection

This spirit of artistry and jet-set glamour lives on—along with a continued obsession with ornamental stone, gems and noble materials—in the new Piaget Limelight Gala, launched at SIHH 2019. With its chic asymmetric lines, this fresh iteration of one of Piaget’s signature designs is the very essence of contemporary-classic elegance.

Complementing its distinctively striped, deep-green malachite dial, the watch features a hand-engraved pink-gold bracelet with a “décor palace” finish, used by the maison since the sixties.

The watch previously boasted 1.75 carats of diamonds around the bezel, however the 2019 remix carries no less than 42 brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of 4.74 carats. Innovative gem-setting makes the stones appear to be magically held in place, rather than set in gold.

The new Piaget Limelight Gala is proof positive that those carrying on Georges-Édouard Piaget’s legacy remain true to the founder’s words—“Always do better than necessary.”

This article was originally published on Hong Kong Tatler

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