True to its original spirit with a few subtle design and technical updates, the design icon Piaget Polo 79 returns in 2024. Featuring a 38mm gold case and the ultra-thin 1200P1 self-winding calibre, we saw the novelty before the release alongside with great vintage timepieces.
Pre-loved and vintage luxury watches have become increasingly popular in recent years. There’s a greater interests due to evolving style and fashion trends, a more prevalent appreciation of rarity (fuelled by the shortage of new models too), and other factors, such as the desire for sustainability. According to Deloitte’s watch industry report, the second-hand watch market that has been growing steadily thanks to Millennial and Gen Z consumers, could be worth CHF35 billion (€36 billion) by 2030.
Sensing the trends and the demand, many brands have been launching vintage inspired watches or re-editions in the last years. Cartier issued models based on the rich heritage of the Maison, Vacheron Constantin re-launched the 222, Jaeger-LeCoultre came out with Tribute pieces and Blancpain, Longines, TAG Heuer and many more presented retro-styled editions.
On February the 6th, Piaget evokes the heydays of the ‘80s Polo Society by presenting a stunning historic design on a contemporary timepiece, the Polo 79.
‘The Piaget Polo watch is in a class by itself’
Piaget is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The Swiss manufacture has been crafting timepieces since 1874 and jewellery since 1959. The manufacture has been very successful blending a jeweller’s refinement with its watchmaking knowledge throughout decades. The artisans La Côte-aux-Fées have been always aligned with the taste and lifestyle of the ‘Piaget Society’ and the glamorous and daring designs attracted the attention of some of the iconic stars of the era.
After many sophisticated dress-watches and their signature ultra thin creations, the brand presented a sport watch line, the Piaget Polo in 1979. And while other horologers opted for steel on sporty timepieces, Piaget launched the pieces in full gold, sculpted from a single piece of the precious metal.
The Piaget Polo was equally popular in the hip spots of New York or the Polo Clubs of Palm Beach. As the The Washington Post depicted the era in 1982: ‘There are $160,000 “polo villas” in Palm Beach, polo magazines, polo newspapers, polo lithographs, polo belt buckles, polo movie stars (George Hamilton, Tommy Lee Jones), platinum-haired polo groupies sipping Pimm’s Cup on the sidelines. Polo has been featured recently in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Town & Country. . . . Polo means Perrier and Piaget, Tony Lama boots and boys with names like Brad, Corky and Chip.’
Most of the leisure watches that time were powered by quartz movement. Beta 21 was the initial quartz watch caliber produced by a consortium of Swiss watchmakers, unveiled in 1970. Many watch companies used Beta 21, like Omega, Longines, IWC Schaffhausen for Da Vinci models, even Patek Philippe, Rolex and Piaget too.
But Piaget has always been a design driven brand with characteristic and thus recognisable forms. The measurements of the Beta 21 (30.9 x 26.5mm, 6.2 mm thick) didn’t serve Piaget’s purpose to create interesting, thin and elegant timepieces. Therefore the Swiss Maison presented its first in-house quartz calibre, the ultra-thin 7P in 1976 and has been using in-house developed quartz movements in some ladies’ and haute joaillerie models ever since. (In 2016, for the 40th birthday of the 7P, the brand issued the Emperador Coussin XL 700P, a concept watch in a 118-piece limited series.)
The 7P quipped early examples of Piaget Polo too, which was superseded by the even thinner 8P (1.95mm) in the beginning of the 1980s. The company produced the model in different sizes and variations (round, square, with or without diamonds, bi-metal and even with stone dials) until 1990’s.
The designs appeared not only on wristwatches and jewellery, but other accessories too. For example, Piaget created a famous 24k yellow gold ingot-shaped pocket watch, collaborated with Dali on belts and necklaces using Dalí d’Or coins and crafted gold cufflinks and a cigar cutter in the aforementioned Polo style. Such as the one that Alain Bourgeaud, Piaget’s Head of Patrimony showed us – it belonged to Sir Roger Moore and was auctioned by Bonhams last year from the personal collection of ‘James Bond’ (see in the gallery below).
Piaget Polo 79 in 2024
The design of the novelty follows the path laid down the early model with some differences dictated by the present tastes.
The updated Piaget Polo 79 remains entirely 18k gold, but comes in a larger 38mm case with a crown, and a fully integrated gold bracelet. It is slightly thicker than the quartz version, and the dial seems to be a bit more distant from the sapphire crystal. When you have them side by side, the novelty’s case has slightly sharper edges around the bezel.
The case houses the ultra-thin 1200P1 in-house self-winding calibre, a version of the 1200P that can be found in certain Altiplanos and which also gives the basis for the 1255P that brings the 2023 Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin alive.
Just like before, the flat satin finished blocks and the polished horizontal cylinders form a united pattern over the entire timepiece. Combined with the warm tones of the gold, it looks like the overly large sunset mirages in the movies of the ‘80s.
The Piaget Polo 79 will be in the collection with limitation imposed by the production capacities.
Photo credits: Piaget. Loupiosity.com
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