Cover Story: Lee Junho on sharing the spirit of Piaget

The South Korean entertainer, actor and singer Lee Junho takes on a dazzling new role as global ambassador for luxury watch and jewellery maison Piaget

Piaget Polo Chronograph watch, and Possession pendant, bracelets and ring in 18k white gold with diamonds _ Piaget

The 1960s and ’70s were a monumental time in history, not only for the political and cultural movements that defined the two decades but also for the outpouring of creativity across the worlds of art, fashion, entertainment and luxury goods. It was 1963 when Valentin Piaget, the grandson of the founder of Swiss luxury watch and jewellery maison Piaget, helped inspire the creation of the first watches with ornamental stones set into the dial.

The vibrant and daring display of artistry captivated some of the era’s brightest stars, including Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, and led to great friendships with artists the likes of Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol.

Polo 79 watch and Extraordinary Lights earrings _ Piaget

But it was the introduction of the legendary Piaget Society, formed under the fourth generation of the family with Yves Piaget, that the brand became truly synonymous with elegance, luxury and “beautiful people”. Piaget events became the place to be for stars like Ursula Andress, Roger Moore and Brooke Shields.

This was the new cool crowd, one that earned its status not through crowns or palaces, but through beauty, talent, wit and brains. These were the people the sun seemed to revolve around, the names on everyone’s lips and the people everyone wanted to emulate.

Piaget Polo – 150th Anniversary watch _ Piaget

Now, some 50 years after the emergence of the Piaget Society and 150 years after Georges-Édouard Piaget set up his first watchmaking workshop in the small village of La Côte-aux-Fées in the Swiss Jura mountains, a new generation of “beautiful people” is joining forces with the maison as it continues its pursuit of masterful craftsmanship, transforming gold, stones and precious gems into dazzling works of art. Among the newest to join the ranks is South Korean entertainer, actor and singer Lee Junho, best known for being a member of K-pop boy band 2PM and the star of several hit Korean dramas and films.

“‘Always do better than necessary,’ said by the founder of the maison, is totally matching with my life motto,” says the star. Lee is one of the most versatile talents of his generation with experience writing and composing songs in Korean and Japanese for 2PM, himself and TV shows, while racking up acting awards for his roles in romantic comedies, period pieces and serious dramas. He also has a dedicated following for his sophisticated fashion sense, with fans documenting his every look in addition to his own Instagram and YouTube accounts with a combined follower count of nearly 8 million.

Polo 79 watch and Extraordinary Lights earrings _ Piaget

When it comes to his everyday jewellery, Lee’s collection of choice is Possession. Introduced in 1990 as Piaget’s first fine jewellery collection of ultra-wearable “bijoux” – to complement its 21st Century Collection of precious yet wearable jewellery watches – the iconic series and its spinning components have been reimagined in celebration of Piaget’s 150th anniversary in a special five-piece capsule collection. Much of the inspiration for the five new rings comes from Piaget’s master chain makers, who ensured that not only their own expertise but that of the master goldsmiths who came before them would live on in the next generations.

Three of the rings incorporate a clutch of beloved chain designs, from the plump, white-gold gourmette chain to the braided palm chain and the twisted torsade, all of which nestle harmoniously in a row, pavé-set with diamonds and finished with highly polished gadroon edges. A fourth ring showcases the maison’s expertise in gemsetting and fearlessness with colour, with a dazzling rainbow of sapphires, rubies and tsavorites spinning alongside a band of white diamonds.

Polo 79 watch and Extraordinary Lights earrings _ Piaget

Completing the capsule collection is a ring with a single spinning band adorned in an engraved snake motif usually found on the Limelight Gala watch, a sparkling ode to Piaget’s extraordinary history of engraving gold. Lee is often seen wearing one or more of the reimagined rings along with necklaces and bracelets from the Possession collection as well as one of several styles from the Piaget Polo series of luxury steel watches.

In fact, the Possession collection is not the only signature series being revived and reinvented for Piaget’s 150th anniversary, nor is it the only one favoured by 34-year-old Lee. In 1979, Yves Piaget noticed a shift in his clients’ lifestyle. After becoming used to dress watches, customers were playing more sports and wanted watches that would perform as well as they looked. His solution was to create a waterproof, shockproof sports watch known simply as Piaget Polo – a name in keeping with the elite status enjoyed by the brand and the Piaget Society, and a nod to Yves’s love of both horses and the high life.

Polo 79 watch and Extraordinary Lights earrings _ Piaget

Unlike other sports watches of the day, the Piaget Polo was a masterpiece of modern design that conceived timekeeper and bracelet in one aesthetic whole that appeared to have been sculpted from a single piece of gold. Advertised as “the world’s ultimate sports watch”, the Piaget Polo was as revolutionary as it was chic and equally at home at New York’s Studio 54 as the polo clubs of Palm Beach.

Forty-five years after its debut, this historically significant timepiece has been reborn as Piaget Polo 79. Worn by Lee during his appearance at Watches and Wonders 2024, the slightly updated model replaces the former quartz calibre with the ultra-thin 1200P1 in-house self-winding calibre that can be admired through the crystal back of a case that has been slightly enlarged to 38mm. Otherwise it retains the purest expression of the original design, still executed entirely in 18k gold with a bracelet that embraces the wrist like a second skin.

Polo 79 watch and Extraordinary Lights earrings _ Piaget

The Possession capsule collection and Piaget Polo 79 are a testament to the daring creativity and exquisite skills that have defined the maison since 1874, just as the charming, cheerful and utterly captivating Lee Junho is a perfect addition to the Piaget Society for the next generation of discerning luxury consumers across Asia and beyond.

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