Piaget Altiplano Skeleton Ultra-Thin TEXT MATT MORLEY
Known as a high-end watch and jewellery brand with a penchant for understated yet exclusive elegance, Piaget has been at the forefront of the move towards smaller, thinner watch cases over recent years. At the Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva this year, the company’s suave CEO Philippe Léopold-Metzger told Wanted with a wry smile that ”Piaget has been out of favour for the past 20 years” while the world became obsessed with larger, chunkier watch cases. “Now, all of a sudden, we are back in fashion.” With 98% of Piaget products made from gold and Chinese consumers’ well-known penchant for smaller, thinner watches, Piaget has boldly maintained its premium positioning throughout the global economic crisis. If its newly launched Altiplano Skeleton Ultra-Thin watch is anything to go by, it is optimistic about the future too. Boasting two records as the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton model at just 5.34mm, it also houses the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton movement at 2.4mm. Léopold-Metzger believes the watch industry today is saturated with marketing messages that often mislead a consumer into believing that a particular product represents a certain level of craftsmanship, while the reality is often very different. “We have been making luxury watches since 1874 so we don’t have to shout any more. My ultimate dream would be for every potential client to visit our manufacture in Switzerland. People simply cannot believe that so much time and energy goes into making one product. They are mystified.” Until he finds a way to make that happen though, there is this skeleton version of Piaget’s iconic Altiplano, guaranteed to produce a similar reaction by revealing all of its complex inner workings. Having crammed so much watch into a limited amount of space, the round, 18ct white gold case and centrally mounted black dauphine hands help wearers get their bearings each time they look down at their wrists. Being a skeletonised model, there is no dial as such, just the watch’s exposed mechanics, resulting in a visual cacophony of satin-brushed plates, bridges, wheels and screws. A black platinum micro-rotor at 9 o’clock, engraved with the Piaget word mark on the front and the company coat of arms on the reverse, serves as one of the more easily recognisable moving parts. That rotating plate then produces a 44-hour power reserve, no easy achievement given the record-breaking dimensions of this timepiece.
Case: 38mm 18ct white gold Movement: Piaget 1 200S ultra-thin mechanical Features: skeleton dial, 44-hour power reserve Strap: black alligator strap with white gold buckle Price: upon request Distributor: Vendôme Distributors, 011 337 2600
BRITISH EVOLUTION Hackett TEXT CHIPO MAPONDERA
Quintessential British men’s outfitter, Hackett London, recently launched its flagship store in Sandton City’s new mall space making it the second of two stores in SA, after its OR Tambo International Airport branch. The store concept takes inspiration from the famous and typically British exterior of 10 Downing Street, creating a residential London townhouse feel through the use of wooden panelling and black bricks which was inspired by the British Georgian period, particularly the style of architect Sir John Soane whose classic aesthetic reflects Hackett’s very essence. The brand’s co-founder Jeremy Hackett describes the ethos as “evolutionary rather than revolutionary”. “With everything we do we think, is this Hackett, because we have a strong point of view. We express our British values by using exclusive materials from the best mills around the world and designing our own patterns for every piece.” This attention to detail has been cultivated since 1979 when the brand started as a supplier of vintage traditional heritage clothing and then expanded to ready-to-wear, always maintaining its traditional bearings. You can still find pieces in the range that have been produced by the brand for the past 20 years, but its true success is in reinterpreting this feel for the modern man. “Our clothes wear in, not out,” adds Hackett when describing the quality and versatility of the brand, which encompasses any occasion whether for business, formal, country or sporting outings. With 37 stand-alone stores and 44 concessions worldwide, the brand’s international expansion continues to thrive. It was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade earlier this year as a result of continuous growth in export sales and overall performance. This has been boosted by markets such as ours which contributed to a growth in export sales of 1 500%, along with 200% growth in turnover from 2008. A profound history is evidently the basis of a dynamic future, which Joburg shoppers will now be able to enjoy.
Hackett, Shop UL313, Sandton City, 011 784 0342
57 JUNE 2012
Q&A WITH JEREMY HACKETT What is the ideal behind the Hackett brand? Our objective is to offer our customers the best in classically inspired clothes with a traditional but modern touch. We draw inspiration from the rich seam of British heritage. Describe the Hackett man? The Hackett man is one who appreciates style above the vagaries of high fashion. How do you translate this to the local market? The local market has been incredibly receptive to Hackett and our unique take on British style. Our ranges are pretty much the same internationally. We offer such a tremendous choice that it can often be tailored for each market, dependent on climate. Hackett started out sourcing traditional second-hand clothing. How have you continued to translate these elements to the ready-to-wear brand? We constantly strive to maintain our quality as it is something that both our clients and our chief critics value. We make a concerted effort to acquire the best raw materials and source expert tailors. Above all we strive to maintain the best value for money. How does Hackett cultivate its other affiliations, most notably with Aston Martin and in sporting culture? We have a number of affiliations and Aston Martin happens to be the most famous one. It makes perfect sense as our brand is also a British icon. Being involved in sports such as polo, rowing and tennis allows us to build product around these sports with authenticity and integrity. South Africans will no doubt remember that we sponsored the rugby player Jonny Wilkinson for a number of years. It was a great success as having him as the face of Hackett brought a tremendous amount of credibility to our brand. Who are some of the high profile individuals who wear Hackett? Perhaps our highest profile individuals are Prince William and Prince Harry who have both played for the British Army Polo team (which Hackett sponsors). I don’t think we could ask for a better endorsement as a British brand.
Business Day South Africa's Wanted magazine, watch column by Matt Morley, Piaget Altipiano