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[Weekender] High-end watchmaker Piaget sticks to prestige, tradition

As smartwatches make headlines with their futuristic features, traditional watchmaking powerhouses such as TAG Heuer, Swatch and other Swiss-based watchmakers are jumping on to the digital bandwagon to attract customers.

But Piaget, the 145-year-old Swiss watchmaker, is not intimidated by the hype over smartwatches. Piaget Korea general manager Sarah Jung said in an interview with The Korea Herald that the watchmakers’ prestige and prowess dating over a century goes beyond functionality.

“We are not dealing with clashing markets as we have different targets,” Jung said.

“Those who have high-end watches are not buying them simply because of the functionality. Watches that are handmade are not even that precise. Smartwatches have to do with convenience like mobile phones,” Jung explained. “Over 50 percent of our customers are making the choice that makes them content.”

Piaget Korea General Manager Sarah Jung. Piaget Korea.
Piaget Korea General Manager Sarah Jung. Piaget Korea.

Piaget, Jung said, believes in the pride that comes with history and craftsmanship. For this reason, the manufacturer controls the entire production process for its watches and jewelry, from the initial design to the final finishes including the movements and the cases. That is why Piaget does not make anything other than watches and jewelry.

“The time of unified and mass-produced brands is over. The trend in the future will be the coexistence of high-end and low-priced products,” Jung said.

Born in a family-run workshop in Switzerland, Piaget is one of the best-known high-end watch brands boasting unique and sophisticated watch collection that has captivated fashion icons such as Jacqueline Kennedy, the wife of late former U. S. president John F. Kennedy.

Among its selection, ultrathin watches are Piaget’s longtime best sellers. The Emperador Coussin Skeleton Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater is listed as the thinnest watch with a minute repeater -- a mechanism that chimes the time down to the minute using separate tones for hours and minutes.

“Piaget has not built its reputation in a day. … We are not just a luxury group, but a brand of many aspects, including the long tradition, history, management and manufacturer,” Jung said.

Established in 2009, Piaget Korea has been working to reach out to the wider public.

“Piaget Korea’s immediate task is to bridge the gap between us and customers. We will reach out and communicate with them. Launching ultrathin watches and affordable fine jewelry would be a good starting point,” said Jung, adding that the Korean market has great potential to expand in the next five years.

By Yeo Jun-suk (