Artistic craftsmanship: Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry
Piaget Art and Excellence collection is a masterwork of style meets innovation. It brings forth exquisite craftsmanship that is refined, précised and elegant. During the recent SIHH 2017, the Swiss brand introduces three new timepieces from this standout collection that got the audience wide-eyed.
Sara Bran, an artisan known as the lace maker on gold, worked on the new Gold Lacework Altiplano Double Jeu and the High Jewellery Gold Lacework Cuff Watch. While the Altiplano in Feather Marquetry was the brainchild of Émilie Moutard-Martin, a France-based feather artist who previously worked on Piaget's 'Secret & Lights' collection last year.
Both artisans have translated an artistic language with a sense of boldness and style that allowed Piaget to push the limits of innovation. We take a look at our favourite piece – the Altiplano Feather Marquetry.
How it's done
The Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm watch features 18k white gold case set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds. The dial in peacock, duck and rooster feather marquetry is partially covered with silver leaf. To achieve the distinctive, elegant Piaget look, the feather artist rigorously chooses the feathers for an exact shade, density and texture to create the required effects. The feather is then washed in soapy water before being stabilised in steam and meticulously recut by hand.
Following this, each feather is smoothed out, ready to be carefully arranged in its appointed place to showcase alternating contrasts and geometrical patterns. This gives the artist a working idea on how to reproduce the desired composition before gluing the feather flat. The miniature feather art technique draws similarity with that of marquetry where each touch must be accurate in combining technical mastery and artistic vision.
Once this virtuoso craftsmanship is complete, the pure lines of Altiplano, the ultra-thin mechanical icon beating in step with the hand-wound 430P movement, are arrayed in a feather marquetry, partially covered with silver leaf. This is a challenging process as it involves handling the infinitely small pieces with extreme care and calls for considerable expertise. But what you get at the end is a mesmerising effect and fascinating optical illusion where the peacock appears to be spreading its majestic tail feathers on the wrist. This fine work of art is complemented by the unique strap with its haute couture touch, also skilfully arrayed in feathers.