Interview: Piaget CEO Benjamin Comar Discusses Jewelry, Community, and the Altiplano
With the start of Watches & Wonders 2022 only a few days away, we spoke with Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, about his vision for the brand.
Among the great watchmaking houses, Piaget holds special status due to its dual role as a watchmaker and jeweler.
And with an outstanding career in both of those fields, Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, seems to be the right fit for the job, able to capture the cross-disciplinary essence of Piaget.
So, with Mr. Comar’s varied expertise in mind, here are selected excerpts from exchanges with a man who unquestionably understands the fundamental values of a brand whose future he presides over.
Interview with Piaget CEO Benjamin Comar
Marco Gabella: How would you describe the subtle link between the Piaget jewelry and watchmaking worlds?
Benjamin Comar: The know-how is very different for the two crafts. But in terms of spirit and brand universe, the connection is natural. Piaget had this very intense period of development through the link between jewelry and watchmaking.
Again, the connection seems quite natural at Piaget, which is great for tracing the start of this period working with gold, the bracelet, the integration of bracelets, the use of hard stones, etc. I can’t think of another watchmaking brand that would do this and possesses the same heritage as Piaget does.
What I like about the strength of Piaget is the movements and the settings around them. We are not here to make a movement just for the sake of it. And this allows a freer expression.
So, the link with jewelry is seen as very natural. The first jewelry pieces date back to the 1950s, so it’s still very early. And what I like about this brand is that it has the elegance of the Côte d’Azur while maintaining Swiss rigor.
MG: If we think about Piaget’s watchmaking, we definitely think in terms of finesse. However, in my opinion we should almost take the Altiplano out of the watchmaking world due to its extreme level of refinement. What is your take on this subject?
BC: I agree with you; it’s a design object. It’s all about fantasy and extravagance delivered in a superlative design. I should note that on the business side, the Altiplano 910 is the best expression of this. I find that the 910 pushes the Altiplano design to its limit, showcasing the fantasy inherent in this rigorous design of an ultra-classic watch.
MG: Changing topics: It’s been eight months since you became CEO of Piaget. What has been your assessment of the brand?
BC: I have always admired Piaget, which I’ve also always found quite fascinating. I’ve always found boldness in the products and in the advertising. It’s a brand that has always dared. Besides creativity, I’ve found a fighting spirit at Piaget.
MG: What is the relationship like between the brand and Piaget customers?
BC: I think Piaget customers are pretty determined. They know their desires; they know they want something different. In parallel, we are trying to conduct as many surveys as possible. And I must say that our customers’ loyalty is quite on the same level as Tesla’s or Apple’s ones.
MG: I had the pleasure of attending the Piaget Society Rendez-Vous at the Geneva boutique. The central topic of the event and the exhibition was “The Art of Movement,” but not only in watchmaking terms. I must say, it was a real educational platform, and we need more of them today.
BC: Exactly. The brand is stronger than any of us individually, and our job is to develop it within its design codes, its sincerity, and its authenticity. And the togetherness concept suits this goal perfectly. This also applies to our versatile unisex products that are very fluid.
MG: As for jewelry, how do you manage to enter more accessible territories of expression without denying the excellence of a brand as prestigious as yours?
BC: It’s very creative work. More than just looking for an appropriate material solution, I think. We did the marquetry of the malachite on the dial, which is just beautiful. We worked with straw, feathers, and beads. But I think that if the objective is to make products that are cheap, it will not work.
But I would like to emphasize that not everything is about money. I take the example of the Polo, a piece that costs more than CHF 20,000, and it does extremely well in the United States because this piece was initially designed for that market, so now there is a whole Polo culture there. However, it even does very well in Europe; a successful product finds its market.
If you do too much marketing with a worthy product, then that’s how the emotion is lost.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel, videos by Johan Corminboeuf)