By Michelle Graff

It's nearly 10 a.m. in Reykjavik and daybreak is minutes away. At 64 degrees north latitude, Iceland's exotic capital city is a rather unusual place to be in January, when gale-force winds blow the snow and hail sideways, but given my years-long desire to visit, I couldn't pass up an invitation that landed in my in-box in November.

Piaget, the Swiss watch and jewelry brand owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, was planning a collection themed "From Paris to New York," a jeweled paean to the iconic landmarks of the two cities. In a clever promotion, the brand decided to stage its pre-SIHH (the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie show in Geneva) global press preview in a city that is literally halfway in-between.

"Thematic collections like this are becoming a highlight for the brand," said Philippe Leopold-Metzger, Piaget's worldwide president, before unveiling a series of high-intensity jewels and watches inspired by Manhattan's Chrysler Building and Statue of Liberty and Paris' Eiffel Tower and Grande Roue (ferris wheel), such as the Polo Tourbillon Relatif shown left in a profile view.

The extravagance with which Piaget introduced this collection—a proposition that involved flying 120 journalists from around the world to Iceland, notorious for being one of the world's most expensive cities—suggests that in the run-up to this year's watch fairs, the pressure to woo the media has become all the more intense.

Jaunts such as this one became de riguer for the major Swiss brands a few years ago, when it became clear that collectors were looking to editorial to help them understand the widening world of haute horlogerie. Now, hardly a month passes without another brand staging some far-flung, luxe adventure in the hopes of impressing upon the media a sense of its brand ideology, not to mention its largesse.

TAGS:   Watches
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