Picture this: It’s the 1960s, and Hollywood’s golden age is still in full swing. Starlets and icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy dominate the headlines with their preternatural sophistication and charm, and Piaget’s famous Society was in full swing. Famed artists, intellectuals and bon vivants alike gathered to appreciate the Swiss watchmaker’s technological and artistic marvels.
It seems fitting, then, that this was the world in which Piaget’s first jewellery watches were born in; in 1964, the Limelight Gala made its sparkling, awe-inspiring debut. Much like the glamorous women that they were inspired by, the Limelight Gala reflects the stylistic sensibilities of the era that each model was born in. To watch its design evolve steadily over the years is enthralling.
Behold the cambered case, asymmetrical lugs and almost graphic detail of Piaget Patrimony 1964, the portrait of the consummate lady — and compare it next to the bold Piaget Patrimony 1973, whose oblong dial and contrasting gold-and-diamond silhouette was made to allow its wearer stand out.
For 2020, Piaget presents a litany of new Limelight Gala timepieces to celebrate the iconic collection, now almost half a century old. Each of the new models reflect the maison’s four pillars of excellence: that of gold, light, colour, and movement.
As with all other editions of the Limelight Gala, Piaget’s The Art of Gold edition presents with it a hand-engraved 18k white gold bracelet and dial. Here, it’s shown off to stunning effect with its subtle blue gradient, ringed as it is with 20 brilliant-cut diamonds and a mesmerising fade of 22 blue sapphires.
The Limelight Gala also presents one of Piaget’s most famous and noteworthy techniques, the Décor Palace (Palace decoration in English), which is used to decorate both the bracelet and the dial. Few artisans in the world have the knowledge and expertise to produce this iconic finish, which must be painstakingly hand-engraved for many hours. Since the rare design’s inception in the 1960s, Piaget has used over a hundred different patterns to craft these hand-made gold bracelets, including waves, snack scales, prairies, and many other startlingly complex designs.
Piaget also ensures that the same engraver works on both the dial and the bracelet to ensure harmony in the overall timepiece. The result is a remarkably supple bracelet that is no less attractive than the royal blue dial that it supports.
To allow the Décor to shine through, the dial of the Art of Gold is covered in translucent blue enamel, which is oven-fired multiple times at a temperature over 800 degrees — which is also where the title of ‘Grand Feu’ Enamel comes from.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the gemstones that line the Art of Gold edition of the Limelight Gala. Not only are the colours of the sapphires and diamonds paired to create the illusion of a gradual gradient, they also progressively get larger as they ensconce the dial. To find the perfect stones for the timepiece, Piaget sampled large quantities of gemstones to meet their stringent requirements.
And exceptional gems need an exceptional method of setting, which is why Piaget utilises the serti descendu method of gem-setting.
This new open-worked style allows for larger stones to appear like they are invisibly held together — rather than set in gold — which in turn allows each stone to receive even more light than normally possible.
The result is a jewellery watch that is understated in its sophistication at first glance, but reveals layers of complexity and brilliance — perfect for the modern woman of today.
There are watches that are made aesthetically to stand the test of time, but others choose to evolve with the times instead, as with Piaget’s Limelight Gala. We, for one, can’t wait to see how the collection will continue to grow and evolve.