One brand sparkles pleasantly in your eye, while the other makes you feel humble. We talk to the brand managers of Piaget and Vacheron Constantin on their fantastic SIHH 2011 collections
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: March 10, 2011
One brand sparkles pleasantly in your eye, while the other makes you feel humble. We talk to the brand managers of Piaget and Vacheron Constantin on their fantastic SIHH 2011 collections.
Salon de la Haute Horlogerie is a composition of a limited number of fine watchmaking brands - each unique in its own way. But what caught our eyes were two brands who are diametrically opposite from each other. One is mostly adorned by glittering diamonds and emeralds, the other looks simple and yet much desirable. One is drooled over by women wanting dazzling showpieces on their hands, the other is much desired by men with a strong character and clearly defined time needs.
One is Piaget, the other is Vacheron Constantin. To be fair, there is no comparison between the two. Each is magnificent and an epitome of timekeeping.
The SIHH review
Giving an introduction to its flagship watch showcased at SIHH 2011, Alain Riguidel, Brand Director, Piaget, proudly said, “Piaget has exclusive mechanical manufacture movements and is well known for few iconic products in the ultra-thin segment. In 1957, the 9P movement was unveiled – one of the thinnest hand-wound movements in existence (2mm). Then in 1960, a new record was established with the 12P movement: the thinnest self-winding movement in existence (2.3mm). Last year we presented the thinnest self-winding watch (5.25mm) and the slimmest self-winding movement in existence (2.35mm). This year, Piaget has set a new record for the world’s thinnest self-winding tourbillon watch with caliber 1270P (5.5mm thickness, off-centered Tourbillon and micro rotor on dial side).”
Some other Piaget launches include the Piaget Polo 40mm & 32mm set with brilliant-cut diamonds; Piaget Altiplano 38mm Pave Dial – the dial fully-paved with 735 brilliant-cut diamonds; and the Limelight Garden Party Watch with marquise-cut emeralds and again a lot of brilliant-cut diamonds. See to believe these luminous watches!
Yassin Tag, Brand Manager, Vacheron Constantin Middle-East & Sub-Continent, explains his highly complex timekeeping beauties – “As every year, Vacheron Constantin delivered an exciting collection at the SIHH. There were many novelties this year, but the main focus was on Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time. This model is the most complete complication of the kind in the market, as it is the only one giving an accurate time for 37 different time zones including the half and quarter hours time difference. Other models unveiled include the Patrimony Perpetual Calendar, the Quai de L’Ile Annual Calendar and the Historique Aronde 1954.”
Both the brands have very strong USPs for their new collections. While Piaget offers a complete string of styles – whatever you could ever wish for, Vacheron Constantin goes deeper into the complications and makes them simpler to handle for watch wearers.
“Our visitors during SIHH could appreciate a complete and strong offer – with many new products - in term of design and movements, but the main aesthetic remains, while also discovering – if they don’t already know - that Piaget is not only a watchmaker, but also a jeweller with its own jewellers in his manufacture. And I can tell you that they do not compromise with perfection in terms of gem settings,” explained Riguidel.
Tag, on the other hand, focused on the technology. “We can say that last year we launched two new high complication caliber the 2253 and the 2755, and this year we are launching two new middle-complication models - the World Time and the Annual Calendar. Moreover, after launching the Quai de l’Ile model with a transparent dial, we are introducing this year the existing models (Day, Date, Power reserve and the Automatic with Date models) and the new annual calendar with a plain dial. This further increases readability and allows more personalization combinations,” he said.
However, both the brands think similarly on one point – the importance of SIHH. “SIHH is important for the whole watchmaking industry. This yearly meeting between the brands and their partners largely determines the outlook of the coming year in terms of orders. It is an important indicator of the market’s appetite for products and novelties. We can say that this year’s SIHH was very successful for us,” explained Tag.
In a similar strain, Riguidel said, “SIHH is a big moment during the year since all the main jewellers and watch agents come to Geneva to see our novelties. At the same time, since we have many partners with whom we are work with, it becomes an ‘yearly family meeting’ of sorts. SIHH helps in gauging the worldwide and local economic situation since the economy has an impact on the mood of our final customers. So yes, SIHH is very important. This year, our partners were very pleased with Piaget novelties, and - on an overall - our partners were showing optimism for the months to come with regard to the economical global picture.”
The India Factor
India is increasingly becoming an important market for all luxury brands – enough has been said on the subject – and both the brands are unanimous on their opinion about the India market. But India is not without its problems. Riguidel says, “Yes, India is an important market for Piaget. We have two boutiques in India (in the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai and in DLF Emporio Mall, New Delhi). Piaget has been one of the first watch brands to install a flagship store in India. It is a complex market where not only there is no real tradition of ‘luxury boutiques’, but there is also high cost on real estate which makes it difficult to expand in ‘luxurious areas’. But despite all, our results are improving, and we are working for the future since we know that step by step India will (one day) be an affluent market for Piaget.”
Riguidel bridles when you ask him to ‘rank’ India. “Often I am asked such questions since everyone wants to be compared one day or the other with his neighbour – I don’t know why! What I can say is that India is not China, but since we have two boutiques in India, and two boutiques in France for example, it would be nice to say that India at least has the same result as France (or Italy, or Switzerland…). One day for sure it will, but till then, we’ll keep working to show our partner and retailers in India how to get to the ‘starting block’ to ‘win the race’. India will one day grow very fast. The question is, when exactly it will start?”
Tag reiterated the same point. “For the time being, India still represents a limited portion of our global sales. Nevertheless, we believe in the Indian market and are determined to develop this market in the near future.”
Preferring to keep mum, both the brands declined the offer to spill over their future plans – albeit diplomatically! “We have just unveiled this year novelties which will arrive in the markets between April and December 2011, so it is early to start sharing about future novelties and development. But I can assure you that Vacheron Constantin enthusiasts will not be disappointed!” said Tag.
Riguidel said, “We have several ideas in terms of India market animations on which we are working, but we can’t say anything till it’s confirmed. We will inform you in due time.”
We are surely waiting to see more beauties. And if they are India-inspired, well, then it’s double the pleasure!