Roses have played an important role in the life of Yves Piaget and have become characteristic blooms for the famous Maison. This year, Piaget introduces the Arts & Excellence
collection featuring three limited-edition timepieces finished with artisanal touches. All celebrate the Yves Piaget rose, a major source of inspiration for Piaget jewelry and watch collections.
To learn more about how these pieces are made, iW
sat down with French master embroiderer Sylvie Deschamps and Piaget marketing manager Sandrine Deperrois. Check out our video interview.
ARTS & EXCELLENCE COLLECTION
This special Arts & Excellence
collection features the emblematic Piaget Altiplano
watch highlighting micro-pointillism embroidery, Grand Feu enamel or hard stone marquetry. Each interprets the Yves Piaget rose through a specialized art form. In addition to these artistic flourishes, each watch is complete with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds set along the bezel of the white gold case, which houses ultra-thin manual-wind Piaget manufacture movement 430P.
Honored with the official title of Maître d’Art by the French Minister of Culture, Sylvie Deschamps uses her talents to embroider an elegant Yves Piaget rose on the dial of the eight pieces in this limited collection. The miniature rose is first drawn on fine white silk to create a pattern for the work of needle and thread. Working from the outside in, Deschamps uses a rare silver “filet” thread along the edges of the rose petals and a range of five silk threads, varying in color from fuchsia to pale pink. She then uses a technique call micro-pointillism to create a multitude of knotted stitches to obtain the desired color. Each 38mm timepiece takes up to 40 hours of meticulous handwork to complete.
GRAND FEU ENAMEL
The first step begins with engraving the Yves Piaget rose motif on the dial followed by adding a sunray guilloché finish around it. This takes a steady and skilled hand to execute, and the resulting engraving adds great depth and complexity to the piece. The enameling begins in the raw form, a mix of glass and metallic oxide that is ground with a mortar and pestle to a very fine powder. Once the powder is thoroughly rinsed, the glaze is applied to the dial in layers, depending on the desired color.
A crucial step in the process is heating each layer of glaze in an oven at 800°C. The glaze is extremely sensitive and a difference of one or two seconds will change the desired outcome—or crack the enamel. It is the artisan’s secret recipe of timing and layering that creates gorgeous dials. The final step is polishing the dial to bring the piece to life.
HARD STONE MARQUETRY
This craft requires a skilled craftsman. For Piaget, that person is artisan Hervé Obligi, whose French workshop was honored with the prestigious “Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Living Heritage Company) for his excellence in this traditional skill. Obligi created a stunning dial of hard stone marquetry using Imperial Mexican jasper for a limited edition of eight pieces. Using his experience and expertise, he delicately cut and polished the jasper in graded shades from purple to pale pink, and then fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle to create his interpretation of the Yves Piaget rose.
A SYMBOL OF LOVE
“For me, roses speak of childhood, and I well remember my first thrill of love for the wild flowers known as sweet briar or Eglantine roses, growing in complete freedom at an altitude of 1,100 meters,” Yves Piaget recalls in his memoirs. Throughout his life, he was captivated by the flower, to the point of creating the International Competition for New Roses in Geneva, the winner of which traditionally receives a golden rose. In 1982, the Meilland rose-breeders dedicated their most beautiful rose to Mr. Piaget. A splendid calyx made up of eighty pale “rose pink” scalloped petals, it was to become the jeweler’s muse and the signature of Piaget jewelry.
From the 1960s onwards, his cherished rose motif enriched the Piaget watch and jewelry collections with its diamond-set gold petals. His taste for roses was further affirmed in 1976 when he became a member of the jury for the Geneva International Competition of New Roses, and presented the winner with a gold rose crafted in the Piaget workshops. His passion for these astonishing flowers was rewarded in 1982 when the winner of the competition, created by the famous rose breeder Meilland, was christened the “Yves Piaget rose.”