(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.)
It was back in 1979 that Piaget released the first Polo watch – a timepiece that would become an icon – not just for the brand, but for the watch collecting world, as well. Now, to mark the 150th anniversary of Piaget, the brand releases the all-new Piaget Polo 79 watch – inspired by the original.
Before we delve into the watch, a little background is key. Exactly 45 years ago, in 1979, Yves Piaget wanted to create something totally different that could cater to the needs of the brand’s sophisticated clientele but would offer a sporty chic appeal. Many of Piaget’s customers were taking an interest around the world in the sport of polo, among other sports. Even Yves Piaget had a love of all things equestrian. He got highly involved in polo matches – even creating several Piaget Celebrity polo events in the 1980s. (As an aside, he was also an avid lover of roses and has his own rose that bears his name. The Piaget rose is a vibrant pink.)
Yves Piaget’s concept was to create a sporty watch that was shock resistant and water resistant but still attractive. The result was a round yellow gold watch with an incredibly distinctive horizontal pattern formed by alternating polished and brushed links and carrying the motif from bracelet to case and even the dial. The Piaget Polo watch became a legend among the Piaget Society that were great supporters of the brand.
The original watches were advertised in the 1980’s as “the world’s ultimate sports watch” – predominantly because they were performance oriented (water- and shock-resistant) yet still luxurious in design. For these watches, the brand turned to ultra-thin mechanical and quartz movements. Square versions of the famed Piaget Polo emerged, as did gem-set versions and white gold and two-tone variations. Each version reflected the glamour of the era and the Piaget Polo watch – immediately identifiable from across a crowded room – was a signature for celebrities and stars such as Andy Warhol and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. It could be seen on wrists in night clubs, at polo matches, on yachts and more.
Now, to celebrate this iconic watch, the 150th anniversary of the brand and the return to vintage legends, Piaget releases the new Piaget Polo 79 – with modern tweaks. The 38mm 18-karat yellow gold round watch is powered by the brand’s in-house-made ultra-thin mechanical 1200P1 self-winding caliber, whose movement is visible via a transparent sapphire case back. The watch retails for $73,000.
My Impressions of the Piaget Polo 79
The watch is a perfect rendition of the past — an icon come back to life. I love this watch. I love that it has a mechanical movement inside. I love that it recalls the daring and bold spirit of Yves Piaget in an era of yellow gold, sculpted watches and even stone dials. I love it because it brings me back to the late 1980’s when I had just started out in the watch industry and joined Piaget on a celebrity pilot event or two. But I also love it, and think collectors will love it, because it is at once beautiful and chic, bold yet elegant and definitively vintage inspired. Looking forward to more Piaget Polo revivals.