Piaget presents the Limelight Gala: 50 Years of Brilliance
Launched in 1969, the “21st Century Collection” was both a collection and a manifesto. It crystallised an aesthetic revolution: the convergence of two types of savoir-faire, watchmaking and jewellery, thanks to the development of the 9P in 1957, a hand-wound mechanical movement that was a mere 2 mm thick.
The larger dial suddenly opened up an infinite number of visual possibilities, which Piaget explored with unprecedented creativity. The dials of cuff watches and Swinging Sautoirs were covered in brightly coloured ornamental stones (malachite, opal, lapis lazuli, tiger-eye, etc.) and paired with textured solid gold bracelets. In 1973, barely four years after the iconic “21st Century Collection”, Piaget gave shape to the collection that would later become the Limelight Gala.
Instantly recognisable for its generous curves and the asymmetrical lugs of its bezel, set with precious stones, one side stretching upwards and the other down, the Limelight Gala stands out with its unique audacious look. Dubbed by some as a “fashion watch” at the time of its creation, Limelight Gala set the tempo for the incredible spirit of freedom that reigned in the Maison.
In 1973, Limelight Gala was not yet known as Limelight Gala. The collection was only given the name retrospectively, in view of its extraordinary history. From the moment it was created, the watch was caught in a whirlwind of receptions, parties, balls, dinners and galas. It displayed the time with panache and flamboyance, adorning the wrists of women dressed by the most famous couturiers, easy to wear thanks to its articulated bracelet.
This high-society waltz was orchestrated by Yves Piaget, the Maison’s fourth-generation scion, from Gstaad to Monte Carlo, stopping off in New York and Palm Springs. He carved out a place for the family Maison in the golden era of socialites. He founded the Piaget Society: an international community made up of sophisticated clients, actors, singers, writers and artists. Their number included Cary Grant, Sammy Davis Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Ursula Andress and, of course, Andy Warhol.
In 2023, Limelight Gala still has all the charisma, the powerful aesthetics, the couture extravagance and the innovative refinement of its Seventies predecessors. At a time when exuberance is coming back to the fore, the Maison can go on designing its pieces with the same unfettered freedom.
The bracelet is crafted from strands of gold woven into a Milanese mesh, guaranteeing a smooth finish and a second-skin feel. It is sculpted – sometimes like a chain, sometimes like the finest flowing fabric. On the dial, there is still an explosion of colour, while the bezel is generously wrapped in perfectly matched stones. Malachite, lapis lazuli, or kaleidoscopic opal are trimmed with white diamonds. Enamel and sapphires shine in shades of blue and green. With the infinite variety of its blends of materials and colours, the collection reveals its clear propensity for extravagance. This spirit is embodied by lugs set with double rows of stones in a scale of rainbow hues or adorned with flamboyant marquisecut diamonds. Such finesse is required to execute these pieces that skilled watchmakers in the Plan-les-Ouates Manufacture can devote hundreds of hours to crafting them.