PIAGET: Beneath the Surface of an Integrated Manufacture

Apr 11, 2013,09:59 AM

Piaget: Beneath the Surface of an Integrated Manufacture




Regular followers of this forum will be familiar with the origins of the Piaget family and Manufacture.


Click URL that follows for the History:





We have often seen old photos of the Manufacture at La Cote au Fees from 1947 but alas, the older workshops in the family farm house or the village inn and chapel (1874 - 1946) are not available.




Some people may argue that such old history is not relevant today as any investor can purchase shiny new CNC milling machines and automated robot tools that can achieve remarkable precision in forming metal parts.

I think that such modern tools are indispensible in the pursuit of excellence. After all, most of the historical giants of horology earned their place by inventing or adopting the best technology or processes of their day. The key attribute of a true manufacture that continues to innovate and excel is difficult to describe.


Georges Piaget summed it up in his famous phrase: "Faire toujours mieux qu'il n'est nécessaire ".

"Always do more than is necessary ".



On the best Piaget watches today, a similar phrase is engraved as a reminder that you hold 'the-best-of-the-best' in your hand.

Is that motto true? Or just an urban legend of modern marketing hype and spin?

After all, it is easy today to just hire any Tom, Dick or Harriet to be a marketing or PR director without the spirit of watchmaking nor of Passion, Opinion and Information.





Imagine the frisson of excitement that coursed through me when I glimpsed a little bit of the Spirit of Piaget recently.

Ostensibly, it was just a battered old cardboard box. It was not even a pretty box and had water damage.


A long-time Piaget employee whose offices are under the eaves of the old factory roof became aware of the sound of water dripping and investigated the leak by exploring the roof.  He found this box in a damp corner of an unused section of the roof space. Over the years, old stuff must have been moved around and forgotten.





Easily forgotten.  After all, the world around Piaget has been through wars in Korea and Vietnam, Cuban missile crisis, assassination of world leaders....


....Beatlemania and L.S.D..........



....The jet-set, mini-skirts, the Pill, free love....



....moon landings, quartz crisis, ABBA, oil shortage, Rocky movies, Berlin hole-in-the-wall, U.S.S.R. collapse, economic boom and busts, BRIC and hopefully, even North Korea 2013.



The Box:




1911 ? 


1910 ? 



The Piaget family motto is true and that goes to the heart.

The heart of the Manufacture and the heart of the Piaget community...designers, watchmakers, engineers, collectors and...heck - even the marketeers...need to care about this dirty old box.


Without heart, this industry is just consumerism and bowing to the monkey bean counters.

Without passion, this forum is just a museum to glories past.


This box means a great deal to the old employee who found it.

It is his connection to a manufacture and the village that he loves and will die to protect. His greatest joy was when the grubby box was revealed to the remaining Piaget family members who had led the Manufacture before.


As they held it, the atmosphere was palpable and as they touched the family Spirit, was it just imagination?

Or the wind whistling through the attic?

Or did their venerable ancestor whisper:-

"Faire toujours mieux qu'il n'est nécessaire"............. 




World's Thinnest Piaget automatic minute repeater



Posted by MTF

(Piaget Owner and Sentimentalist)



Post-script doubts:

Are these the ramblings of idealism?

Shall we just print the facts and photos from the new watches' press releases?

It’s just a smelly old cardboard box; does it matter in the real world where You live?



This message has been edited by MTF on 2013-08-26 16:48:16

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Comments: view entire thread


History is important for any brand

 By: AnthonyTsai : April 11th, 2013-12:08
With no history or story to tell, it will not survive. This old cardboard box represents the Piaget spirit in all its essence, and the worker who found it must have been thrilled. It's like a me climbing up to my attic and finding an old lost box filled w... 

At least I am not alone in thinking about HYPE

 By: MTF : April 12th, 2013-01:51
Thanks Anthony. Sometimes we get comments from other brands ( NOT Piaget that still has an archivist and really old ex-employees living next door to the factory). One Brand XYZ executive said to me: "Forget talking about our vintage watches; we don't sell... 

That's really sad...

 By: mkt33 : April 12th, 2013-16:35
"Forget talking about our vintage watches; we don't sell vintage watches. Tell the public about my watches in the shops!" I'd like to think that this viewpoint was rare but I've heard the exact same thing from other brand representatives as well. Thank go... 

Who is . . .

 By: Dr No : April 11th, 2013-17:08
. . . this man? The gentleman on the right, receiving the box. I met him, once. And therein lies a tale. * * * It was in the early fall of 1985, downtown Los Angeles. It may well have been a Thursday, as that was when the Original Pantry . . . . . . serve...  

Now and then

 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : April 12th, 2013-02:14
there are posts on this forum that perform that wonderful feeling that you call gut feeling but you feel it around your heart and your response dear Art to MTF's wonderful post is just epitome of them. You never case to amaze me my friend Thank you for sh... 

Thanks for the kind words, Damjan. Wouldn't it be something to . . .

 By: Dr No : April 12th, 2013-11:59
. . . have met George Balabushka at The Pantry . . . . . . and wound up with one of his cues? :-)

That would be...

 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : April 12th, 2013-12:38
...too much :) :) Cordially Damjan

 By: Seiji Lepine : August 6th, 2023-20:00
Holy Smokes! I just have a Tad Kohara, but Tad told me it was the first one of it's kind he built with a Titlist blank Other saw this one off custom cue and it became a catalog cue and it was the top of the line in 1968.

Piaget is more than FaceBook and Twits

 By: MTF : April 12th, 2013-02:20
Dear Dr No, Thank you for the illustrative story about one watch and two of its owners who met but did not know it. Such depth of connection and story is impossible to twitter on the ethernet in 150 keystrokes or less :-) My cynicism is lifted a little bi... 

Had it not been for the wealth of information on the 'net . . .

 By: Dr No : April 12th, 2013-11:52
. . . I would never have made the connection. It took less than an hour from the moment I started reading his obit to finding the photo, all from the comfort of my home. As sentimental and mired in the past as I am, there are still advantages of . . . . .... 

What a wonderful "anecdote" Art, you say "coincidence" I say...

 By: Sandgroper : April 12th, 2013-04:05
"synchronicity" as I don't believe in coincidence, you say a watch is an innate object! Objection! your honour, the watch is only innate if it has no "friend"...:) Art, of course we have not met...yet...but, I feel in this your writing that you are a huma... 

The avatar . . .

 By: Dr No : April 12th, 2013-11:45
. . . is more than a bit imposing, albeit unintentionally - that, I'll readily grant. 'Dr No' was what my colleagues called me for a time, François. My position involved telling people they were no longer desirable as customers, hence the nickname. Happy ...  

We take on the most unlikely Avatars

 By: MTF : April 15th, 2013-07:39
So Dr No is really a nice, really! :-) And I have nothing in common with a koala.....well, almost nothing. Apparently, like koalas, I am a fairly solitary creature....and also going extinct. Regards, MTF

No, no, Koalas are very much protected now:):):)

 By: Sandgroper : April 15th, 2013-17:02
Cheers, Francois


 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : April 12th, 2013-12:41
I think that we should do something to have synchronous meeting with Art ;) cos I also don't believe in coincidence Cheers Damjan

Yes Damjan, lets try to have a nice meal somewhere in....

 By: Sandgroper : April 13th, 2013-06:05
Europe over Christmas New Year with organise it and I'll try to follow:) from Down Under! Nicolas will have to be part of it, synchronicity oblige, dear Damjan:):) Vidimo se uskoro. Francois

Hey, guys - considering the slide . . .

 By: Dr No : April 16th, 2013-12:47
. . . in the dollar, maybe you should think about a So Cal sojourn instead. :-)

Yes Art you're right and from what I read the food is....

 By: Sandgroper : April 16th, 2013-17:09
fantastic too:) Cheers, Francois

That story is still as amazing and touching...

 By: jporos : May 30th, 2013-14:19
as the time you told it to me when we met. Thanks again, Art!

Thank you MTF, this is wonderful, the Motto reflects....

 By: Sandgroper : April 12th, 2013-01:32
exactly my thoughts, in today's world where so many goods are so badly made, actually they should be called bads not goods:):) Thanks to your reviews and articles which I have read lately I am realising that Piaget was firstly a watchmaker, creator and ma... 

PuristS was one of the earliest places to tell the Piaget truth

 By: MTF : April 12th, 2013-02:26
sandgroper, Our mission has been to find perfection in an imperfect world. We never succeed 100%, by definition :-) But we still try. We need more people to share their thoughts or this will become a place of press releases and "look at my new colour stra... 

For me it was this particular Altiplano

 By: WHL : April 17th, 2013-18:19
40 mm, with small seconds asymmetrically placed: It is every bit as nice as the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine that is my absolute favorite dress watch. Oh.....those Piaget straps can be kinda pricey.....I don't think we'll see a lot of those...  

LOL I agree Piaget straps

 By: MTF : April 17th, 2013-20:32
are priced as luxury items but not as MUCH as Audemars Piguet, in a PuristS qualitative discussion that does not mention actual money figures :-) I used to employ money-equivalent euphemisms like "price of a magazine" or "about 5 Rolex Date-Just worth" bu...