WATCH AFICIONADOS KNOW LAURENT PICCIOTTO is the man to visit when they are in Paris.
The founder of luxury watch retailer Chronopassion is known to have helped develop innovative timepieces such as the Richard Mille 001 Tourbillon in the late 1990s. The watch was priced above US$130,000, and Picciotto was the man who threw the watch against a wall to prove its durability and toughness.
He was also among the first to champion brands such as Urwerk and Maximilian Büsser’s MB&F, doing it all from a single store nestled along Rue Saint Honoré that he opened in 1988.
Picciotto recalls how he was always drawn to complicated watches brought home by his father. “My father was a collector and I was 14-years-old when he bought one of the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches, so this has always been a subject that interested me,” shares Picciotto.
He shares with Keyyes how watches continue to excite him even after three decades in the business.
Why do you champion unique watches and independent watchmakers?
I like the boldness and rarity that often come from these independent creators. I also feel that real luxury has almost disappeared in today’s world. In the 1920s, for instance, a luxury house would take years to open one shop and then it would take another few years because it would expand to another city.
These days, however, brands are opening shops en masse all over the world and I feel like the idea of true luxury has been replaced by expensive objects. So to me, the independents who produce a few dozen or 100 watches a year are the ones who are creating real luxury products.
What do you think makes a good watch?
I would say that a good watch is one that can seduce both a very enlightened watch collector and a total novice.
After three decades in the business, what is it about watches that continues to inspire you?
I am always very enthusiastic when the people that we already work with come up with unique machines. When I discover a new project that seduces me, it makes me want to offer my support.
For watch collectors who are just starting on their journey, what are some tips that you can offer?
Follow what attracts you and create your own watch collecting culture. Every collector is special and every journey is different. You will find that even after among the most experienced of watch collectors, they will all choose to buy different watches.
In your opinion, what is the role that mechanical watches play today?
There is no doubt that mechanical watches play less of a role today – many have switched to digital watches for practical reasons such as ease of use and functions. But, to me, humans are irrational in their tastes and hence, there are still people who will make the decision to buy a mechanical watch for reasons that fall outside practicality. I am glad to see that this is a case – life would be a lot less fun otherwise.