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Chronopassion - Laurent Picciotto

Chronopassion Laurent Picciotto


Laurent Picciotto revels in the art of paradox. He set up shop as a watch retailer in the 1980s – at a time when there was no such thing. In a world in which every word of every public statement had to be signed off at a board meeting, he dove headlong into social media. In 2011, he was MC for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). He’s always been fond of independent watchmakers, even when the trend was towards the standardisation of institutional brands. It would be tempting to conclude that Laurent Picciotto likes to go against the flow; but the fact is that more often than not, he’s the one deciding the direction of flow in the first place.

He’s worked with dozens of partners, including Audemars Piguet, Hublot, MB&F, Urwerk, and of course Richard Mille, of which he was a shareholder and co-founder. He headed up an Audemars Piguet brand store for 10 years – a concept that simply didn’t exist 25 years ago. Then in 2007, he opened the first Hublot ownbrand store in the world – right next door to his. “A few minutes’ discussion with Jean-Claude Biver, key details jotted down on the back of an envelope, and a handshake. That’s how you did business with CEOs of that calibre in those days,” recalls Laurent Picciotto.

Laurent Picciotto

Laurent Picciotto © Stéphnane de Bourgies

When it came to Urwerk and MB&F, the story was something else entirely, with Picciotto playing the role of midwife for both brands. Max Büsser spares no praise when it comes to Laurent Picciotto: “Curator, talent-spotter, risk-taker, benefactor, fine watch fanatic, compulsive enthusiast – and above all, a faithful friend.”

Laurent Picciotto is always doing what you’re least expecting. In 2017, he decided to sell off his entire personal collection. It was an exceptional auction – over within the space of a few hours, under the hammer of Aurel Bacs. Why did he do it? “It was time. I wanted to start again from scratch.”

Basically, Picciotto follows his instincts. He collects pretty much everything on wheels, designs guitars, and buys more leather jackets than he’ll ever be able to wear. And in 2020 there’s still a steady stream of young designers calling on the veteran in his Parisian lair, all with the same question: “Laurent, what do you think of this?” Truly a case of ‘You are what you is’.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.

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