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INTRODUCING: Piaget’s 150th-anniversary watch, the Polo 79

The Piaget Polo 1979 Special Edition bracelet watch in yellow gold.

Piaget finally brings back an icon that has been clamoured for by collectors for decades.

It has been 150 years since Georges-Édouard Piaget founded his own workshop in La Côte-aux-Fées in 1874 and just over 80 years since the Piaget brand became a registered trademark in 1943. Piaget has always created elegant, fine timepieces with a particular flair for precise, ultra-thin movements. During the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, it set numerous watch records for ultra-thin designs with both quartz and mechanical movements.

Yves Piaget showing off the slimness of the Piaget Polo watch.
Yves Piaget showing off the slimness of the Piaget Polo watch.

Each generation of the Piaget family has brought something new to the brand as they took over the reins of the [at the time] family business. Today, Piaget is owned by Richemont, but the 82-year-old Yves Piaget remains at the helm of the business as its chairman. The fourth-generation Piaget’s greatest addition to the brand was perhaps the Polo watch in 1979, which also turns 45 this year. As you may know, the Polo references the sport but from its social standing.

The Piaget Polo from 1979, in square and round case designs.
The Piaget Polo from 1979, in square and round case designs.

Casually sporty and highly stylish, it was a watch that celebrated the high life. Yves Piaget referred to it as a “bracelet watch” with an integrated design that seamlessly flowed from the gold watch case to its full gold bracelet. There were no apparent lugs; instead, polished gold gadroons were screwed on the case and links of the bracelet, contrasting with the satin-finished case. Compact and barely a sliver on the wrist, it was a trendsetter. The round case wasn’t the only version either; square models soon appeared and were even more popular.

Athletic, demanding, and precise 

The Piaget Polo 1979, a faithful re-creation of the original in a larger 38mm yellow gold case size.
The Piaget Polo 79, a faithful re-creation of the original in a larger 38mm yellow gold case size.

For its 150th anniversary, Piaget has released a special edition of the original Polo, something that collectors and watch enthusiasts have been asking for since the steel Polo S was released in 2016. The sport for which the Polo watch was named was once described by Yves Piaget as “athletic, demanding, and precise”, three qualities that Piaget sought to capture with its new Polo 79 today.

The Piaget Polo 1979 features its ultra-thin calibre 1200P, which is just 2.35mm thick.
The Piaget Polo 79 features its ultra-thin Calibre 1200P, which is just 2.35mm thick.

The original Polo watch was equipped with Piaget’s ultra-thin 7P and 8P quartz movements. The former, introduced in 1976 and at 3.1mm, was the slimmest quartz movement in the world. The 8P that succeeded it was launched in 1980 and was even slimmer at just 1.95mm. While quartz has experienced a resurgence in recent years, Piaget also wanted to spotlight its own expertise at ultra-thin mechanical movement making and has equipped the Polo 79 with the 1200P calibre, which is just 2.35mm thick, making the watch closely resemble its original physical characteristics. It is still a smidge thicker due to the different case construction and weighs just shy of 200g in 3N yellow gold.

A closeup of the Piaget Calibre 1200P in the Polo 1979, with a gadroon being fixed.
A closeup of the Piaget Calibre 1200P in the Polo 79, with a gadroon being fixed.

The 1200P calibre is not new to Piaget; in fact, it’s the basis upon which all of its modern ultra-thin movements have been developed. The self-winding movement has a micro-rotor in gold, which bears Piaget’s coat of arms and can be seen via the exhibition caseback. The movement has a 3/4 plate that bears the Genevan stripes in waves emanating from the rotor’s centre, with a power reserve of 44 hours using a single mainspring. That may not feel like a lot in today’s terms, but remember that this is a 2.35mm thick movement. What we’re particularly fond of is how Piaget has retained the watch’s two-hand display – who really needs a seconds hand, after all?

Worn on the wrist, the Piaget Polo 1979 is simply elegant and stunning, even at 45 years young.
Worn on the wrist, the Piaget Polo 79 is simply elegant and stunning, even at 45 years young.

In terms of looks, the Polo 79 closely resembles the Ref. 7661 C701 round Polo, except that it’s larger. The original came in two sizes: a small 27mm version and a large 34mm model. The new Polo 79 is 38mm, a perfect unisex size that’s updated to today’s standards. The screwed-in gadroons, flat bracelet links, gold case and dial with faceted dauphine hands, and gold bead minute track are all highly faithful to the original. The fact that Piaget is able to reproduce this watch so exactly speaks to how it’s retained its goldsmithing capabilities throughout the decades. The completely seamless feel of the watch really demonstrates how the Polo 79 is a bracelet watch, not a watch with a bracelet.

The Piaget Polo 1979's case without the screwed-in gadroons. The design of the watch speaks to Piaget's goldsmithing abilities.
The Piaget Polo 79’s case without the screwed-in gadroons. The design of the watch speaks to Piaget’s goldsmithing abilities.

While many would compare Vacheron Constantin’s Ref. 222 re-edition with the Polo 79, and it is a thoroughly legitimate comparison, it’s a bit of a false equivalence in our opinion. Vacheron Constantin and Piaget are different companies, the latter being a jeweller-watchmaker, and the Polo 79 follows the watch-as-jewellery and luxury sports watch with integrated bracelet trends. But to call it the latter feels like we’re not recognising Piaget’s brilliance at design, especially with the Polo 79’s construction.

The Piaget Polo in rectangular cases, with Nancy Reagan's watch on the right a perfect watch-as-jewellery model.
The Piaget Polo in rectangular cases, with Nancy Reagan’s watch on the right, a perfect watch-as-jewellery model.

The Polo 79 is available for order from today at any Piaget boutique, and it’s a limited production watch rather than a limited edition model to ensure as many people can enjoy it as possible. Priced at S$106,000, this is an incredible opportunity to own a piece of Piaget’s important milestone, especially one that was beloved by so many celebrities before. Now, if Piaget would just give the square model an update as well... especially the model owned by Nancy Reagan.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.