In 1979, Piaget revealed a watch that would come to define the spirit of the 1980s, which is coming back to life today for the 150th anniversary of the maison.
The 1970s had witnessed the arrival of a number of elegant sports watches, mostly in steel, launched by some of the grandest names of Swiss watchmaking. But there had been nothing like Piaget’s Polo: a masterpiece of modern design that conceived a timekeeper and bracelet as one aesthetic whole. And in full gold.
A noted equestrian, Yves Piaget crystallised his love of horses and the highlife in a single timepiece that became emblematic of the glamour of the 1980s. Piaget’s Polo was equally at home in the nightclubs of New York (Regine’s, Studio 54 to name just a few) as the Polo Clubs of Palm Beach.
Embracing the wrist like a second skin, the bracelet was so skilfully wrought in Piaget’s workshops that it appeared to have been sculpted from a single piece of gold: ‘Piaget Polo’ may have been shock resistant and waterproof, but it refused to compromise on luxury and exclusivity at a time when Piaget only worked with precious metals. Advertised as ‘the world’s ultimate sports watch’, the Piaget Polo was as revolutionary as it was chic.
Its profile on the wrist was guaranteed by Piaget’s mastery of ultra-thin movements both mechanical and quartz. In 1976 Piaget had launched the famous 7P, at the time the thinnest quartz movement in the world, which equipped early examples of Piaget Polo.
By the beginning of the 1980s it was superseded by the even thinner (1.95 mm) 8P. But the celebrated mechanical calibre 9P was also used to make certain models of Piaget Polo. Such was the model’s popularity that it soon appeared in an array of variations: round, square, gem set, bi-colour gold, time-only, and perpetual calendar.
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Then, Piaget Polo 79 returns to the purest expression of the original design, albeit with a few subtle updates. In line with current tastes the quartz calibre has been eschewed in favour of 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 is the same masterpiece executed entirely in 18 carat gold that dazzled the jet set 45 years ago and is already beloved by the people in the know. There are many elegant sports watches, but only Piaget’s Polo 79 is a sports elegant watch.