Piaget’s Sunny Side of Life: A Radiant Collection Of Rare Haute Horlogerie And High Jewelry
by Nancy Olson
Piaget celebrated the sunny days of summer with a new jewelry and watch collection introduced during Paris’s Couture Week 2016.
One-hundred and fifty unique and numbered-edition creations from the new Sunny Side of Life collection were shown at the famous Hôtel Potocki in the 8th arrondissement in Paris, and it wasn’t just the watches and jewelry that shone: Jessica Chastain made an appearance at the launch party wearing Sunny Side of Life watches and jewelry. She was joined by other celebrities and friends, including ballerina Dorothée Gilbert, who was wearing a one-of-a-kind necklace and earrings.
As its name suggests, all the pieces in the Sunny Side of Life collection virtually glow, not only because of their design, but also, in my opinion, because of what they represent: the imaginative effervescence that I’ve always appreciated in Piaget creations.
The theme of sunshine and summer is further exemplified in the use of yellow diamonds, glowing tourmalines, floral motifs with engraved gold leaves and emerald-and-diamond foliage, and varying textures of white or pink gold.
Each piece is a radiant display of Piaget’s skillful use of various artisanal skills, including engraving, gem cutting and setting, grand feu enameling, and the lesser-known art of feather marquetry.
Well-known artist Nelly Saunier is responsible for two Life is a Party one-of-a-kind cuff bracelets, whose plumage consisting of Saunier’s feather marquetry technique is set with diamonds and precious, colored gemstones.
The award-winning Saunier works with a variety of couture houses, including Harry Winston and Jean Paul Gaultier.
I happen to be a huge fan of watches with high-fire enamel dials used to create what is known as flinqué: this process comprises enamel added to a solid gold or silver dial that was previously decorated with guilloche or engraving. This is a process that was perfected and made famous by Peter Carl Fabergé for use in particular with his now-iconic imperial eggs for the Russian czar family (see Fabergé Pearl Egg: The First Imperial-Class Egg In Nearly 100 Years).
Flinqué dials, too, number among the elements used for Sunny Side of Life pieces in the shape of four haute horlogerie 38 mm Altiplano models, each superbly exhibiting this age-old skill and each color limited to just eight pieces.
Here, the gold dials first have guilloche applied by hand with a basket-weave motif whose highs and lows are accentuated by a translucent enamel coating. To achieve the desired effect, colored powder is applied; several firing and cooling phases later, a shiny glazed outcome is achieved that also allows the skillfully applied pattern of the precious metal dial below to be glimpsed through the barrage of bright color.
The Piaget enameler’s skill is thoroughly tested in this art form since enamel is extremely sensitive to time and temperature and it will easily crack if either is off by a small fraction. I think the risk is well worth the result.
Other timepieces include lovely gem-set high-jewelry watches decorated with diamonds, emeralds, tourmalines and sapphires, surrounding pearl, lapis lazuli, or feather marquetry dials.
There are also three color schemes of meticulously decorated Altiplano 900D models outfitted with ultra-thin hand-wound Caliber 900D, which is the jeweled version of Caliber 900P first seen at SIHH 2016 (for more see Piaget Altiplano 900P Ultra-Thin: Contender For The “Galaxy On The Wrist” Award).
Each color scheme – green, blue, and red – is limited to just eight pieces and each is set with 266 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.87 ct) on the case, while 23 more (0.05 ct) are found on the clasp. The ultra-thin movement is set with 372 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.17 ct) along with baguette-cut rubies, sapphires, or emeralds depending on the color scheme.
The other watches, generally powered by Piaget’s manufacture quartz movement, include dynamic cuff-style timepieces and delicate sautoir watches – such as the Sunny Side of Life Lapis Lazuli Sautoir, which was in the running in the Jewellery Watch category of the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, but was unfortunately not pre-selected – as well as a sampling of secret watches, each enjoying a luminescence all its own.
The jewelry collection of rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets share a vibrancy that is sometimes bold – as in the daring cuff bracelets – and sometimes demure, but always adventurous.
One particular white gold manchette is intrepidly set with set with 72 baguette-cut blue sapphires (approximately 17.95 carats) and 40 baguette-cut diamonds (approximately 6.25 carats). Its design reminds me of an ocean swell on a sandy shore.
Another cuff sees a mesh-style pink gold framing charismatic multicolored artwork of feather marquetry crowned by an exquisite non-heat-treated yellow sapphire framed by baguette-cut spessartites and marquise-cut pink sapphires. This beautifully sparkling sunrise is naturally a unique piece.
Summery. Sunny. Exquisite.
Quick Facts Sunny Side of Life Lapis Lazuli Sautoir
Case: 22 x 27, white gold with diamonds
Dial: Afghan lapis lazuli
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: numbered edition
Price: 142,000 Swiss francs