Piaget = Passion + People; A Visit to a Place where Movements are Born

When you drive from Geneva to La Côte-aux-Fées you have the idea that you are driving off the map. No wonder that one of the stories how this small village got its name, involves fairies. That not a single fairy could have been spotted during our visit has probably something to do with the fact that the people in this lovely town make enough magic of their own. La Côte-aux-Fées is the home-town of the Piaget family and houses Piaget’s movement manufacture, birthplace of the magnificent movements that power for example the Altiplano.

Not a bad place to work! The view from one of the windows of Piaget's Manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées

Inside the Manufacture is it almost as tranquil as the impressive nature outside. Many craftsmen and –women work patiently and dedicated on their task. They are a mix of young and a little less young, and many of them where actually born and raised in La Côte-aux-Fées or one of the surrounding villages. Apart from the traditional watch making a lot of time and effort is being invested in the decoration of the movements.

 

Finished rotors waiting for their movement

Finished rotors waiting for their movement

The world of difference between a finished and an unfinished part

The world of difference between a finished and an unfinished part

The beautiful decorated dial side of caliber 855P, a perpetual calendar movement.

The beautiful decorated dial side of caliber 855P, a perpetual calendar movement.

Even parts that only a watchmaker will ever see are finished to perfection!

Even parts that only a watchmaker will ever see are finished to perfection!

Piaget's High Complications Workshop

Piaget's High Complications Workshop

Watch meet its Movement; Piaget Upstream with caliber 504P

Watch meet its Movement; Piaget Upstream with caliber 504P

Most parts are so small that the help of a microscope is needed to apply the desired finishd

Most parts are so small that the help of a microscope is needed to apply the desired finishd

An astronomical moonphase undergoing its final tests after assembly

An astronomical moonphase undergoing its final tests after assembly

The back of the very first(!) Gouverneur Tourbillon Moonphase

The back of the very first(!) Gouverneur Tourbillon Moonphase

Beautifully engraved caliber 9P on display

Beautifully engraved caliber 9P on display

The book where all the employees where registred in dates back until 1870

The book where all the employees where registred in dates back until 1870

Parts from the early 1910's in the Manufacture archives

Parts from the early 1910's in the Manufacture archives

Tourbillon in the making

Tourbillon in the making

The toolmaker at work; an often forgotten trade but vital to the survival of high end watchmaking!

The toolmaker at work; an often forgotten trade but vital to the survival of high end watchmaking!

A stunning skeleton movement requires even more skill to put together

A stunning skeleton movement requires even more skill to put together

Synthetic rubies are being placed

Synthetic rubies are being placed

A Piaget Gouverneur Tourbillon Moonphase almost ready to meet its new owner!

A Piaget Gouverneur Tourbillon Moonphase almost ready to meet its new owner!

Tourbillon Relatif movement in the High Complication Workshop

Tourbillon Relatif movement in the High Complication Workshop

A stunning array of finishes!

A stunning array of finishes!

The decoration of movement parts is still mainly done by hand

The decoration of movement parts is still mainly done by hand

Mainplates ready to become a movement!

Mainplates ready to become a movement!

Almost one with nature; Switzerlands premier dairy producers next to Piaget's Manufacture

Almost one with nature; Switzerlands premier dairy producers next to Piaget's Manufacture

All of these decorations are mostly done by hand. A stable hand and years of experience ensure that the finish on these movements is about as good as it gets. That doesn’t mean however that the manufacture doesn’t house any large machines, although those can mainly be found in the toolmakers workshop. This man is responsible for creating many of the specific tools used in the manufacture. Often from scratch, with nothing but a request from a watchmaker, this man has to create magic. Take for example the holder below, specifically designed so that the top part of the minute hand of the Tourbillon Relatif can be finished in three different positions!

A special made holder so that a part of the Tourbillon Relatif can be finished in three different positions.

Of course does is the Manufacture also home to many watchmakers. As a rule a single watchmaker completes an entire movement. This also means that when you own a Piaget you can actually meet the watchmaker that made your movement! Personally we think they should engrave this person’s name on the movement, just as Aston Martin does with a little nameplate on its engines!

 Since in La Côte-aux-Fées only the movements are made, the watchmakers use a white dial with black hands to check the functionality of the movement once they have completed it. Although this heavy contrast dial was mainly designed for optimum functionality in the Manufacture, its striking looks might make a nice addition to Piaget’s line-up.

White dials and black hands on recently finished chronograph movements; a keeper if you ask us!

Although the Manufacture of Piaget is an impressive place in general, there are rooms that simply rise to the level of mind-blowing! Take for example the high complications atelier where some of Piaget’s finest watchmakers work on toubillons and perpetual calendars. Because of the high complexity of the movement are these movements the only that are actually also being completely finished in La Côte-aux-Fées with the exception of straps and bracelets.

For starters; the box and watch tools a watchmaking students need to make.

But before you can even think about one day making it to this premier league of watch making you must first obtain the necessary skills and at Piaget that starts with building a wooden box that will house some of the basic tools you will need as a watchmaker.  And to immediately emerge the watch making student into a life-long tradition at Piaget; everything has to be made by hand from scratch.

Dont forget to also read our recent interview with Piaget’s CEO Philippe Leopold-Metzger, and join us soon for the report about our visit to Piaget’s Geneva Manufacture!

Categories Brands, Gent's Bracelet Watch, Gent's Wristwatch, Piaget, Watches Tags , , , , , Bookmark http://blogs.christies.com/longitude/brands/piaget-passion-people-a-visit-to-a-place-where-movements-are-born/