30 Minutes With Piaget's Directors, Franck Touzeau And Eric Klein

Piaget's International Watch Marketing and Creative Director, Franck Touzeau, and Movement Director, Eric Klein, on the brand's 700P movement.

BY Leong Wong | May 16, 2016 | Interview

Esquire: Why did you decide to introduce a quartz component into the 700P movement?
Franck Touzeau: First of all, I'd like to say that we are very proud of our new hybrid movement. We wanted to commemorate our first in-house manufactured quartz movement, the 7P, which was released in 1976. The 700P is very different, in that it fuses both quartz and mechanical elements. Its accuracy is amazing, and it could possibly be one of the most accurate watches out there. We trust and like it so much that we decided to put it in our Emperador, which is our top range of watches.

ESQ: How has the response been so far?
FT: The response has been very positive. It is good to know that we are doing the right thing. We have a strong history with the quartz movement and are the only brand that is able to develop this kind of concept. Secondly, we wanted to find a way to redevelop the main complications and answer the question: how can we offer more to our customers? The main objective was to improve the accuracy of the mechanical watch. So we introduced a new type of movement, which is the best of two worlds and capitalises on both Piaget expertise. It is the best answer that we can offer the market. That's why we decided to position the first version in our most exclusive level. The price is CHF70,000, and we put Piaget's watchmaking codes on the dial side like we do in the 900P. Both factors reinforce the credibility of the new timepiece. 

ESQ: How long did it take to develop the 700P movement?
Eric Klein: The movement was 10 years in the making. During that time, our main concern was improving the electro-mechanism. When we decided to make this movement, we wanted to demonstrate that the origin is purely mechanical. We didn't want to make the usual full dial where you see nothing. Then people would say, "Oh! It's a quartz watch!". It wasn't easy to realise. During the last three years, however, we made a very interesting discovery that allowed us to improve this very sensitive system.

FT: From the beginning, Eric was responsible for developing the movement. Three years ago, started to think more intently about the future about the brand. We came to the conclusion that what we had was boring. This one was really a surprise. In a first for the watchmaking industry, this watch reveals all the technical value, all the complexity of the movement. It is really audacious. When we work on a new concept, we think about what has been overdone. We also don't want to work on something that already exists in the market. So it's a new challenge every time. We will continue to strive in our quest to reveal something that is truly new. Next year will be another big one for the brand because we plan to launch something exceptional. 

ESQ: How do you manage to isolate the electricity so that it doesn't pass through other parts of the movement?
EK: There's no electro-mechanical element inside for this reason. We have storage for the energy in the capacitor for one or two seconds. As soon as the barrel is finished driving, the watch stops. There is no continuity. Perhaps in the future, the capacitor will be more efficient, but we don't want to introduce a larger capacity. What we have now is just perfect for our needs.

ESQ: Is there a limit to what we can do with this movement? Can you add complications to it?
EK: Yes, any mechanical complication can be used in this calibre; there is no limit.

ESQ: Can you make this movement slimmer than this?
FT: Yes, we can. From the beginning, the main objective was to capitalise on this iconic model based on two components: the case and the bezel. We also wanted to reveal the complexity of the true technical calibre. It was not our objective to be slim.

EK: But we can make it thinner, no problem. We just don't want to. [laughs]

From: Esquire Singapore's May 2016 issue.