Piaget’s 1970s-influenced, male-oriented sport-luxury Polo collection, whose most recent revamp had come in 2016, returned to the spotlight earlier this year with the release of the first Polo Skeleton models in stainless steel cases. Piaget had hinted at a renewed focus on the Polo collection in 2021 and the watch-and-jewelry house has delivered, by following up the steel-cased models with four additional pieces in gold — three of them diamond-set, two of those with fully paved cases and movements — unveiling them at Watches & Wonders 2021.
Like all of Piaget’s gold watches, the cases of the Piaget Polo Skeleton — known for their “shape within a shape” design combining a round case with a pillow-shaped dial opening — are forged in Piaget’s own in-house gold foundry. The skeletonized, ultra-thin caliber 1200S is also crafted in-house, and the gem-setting on the movements and cases is all done on-premises by skilled artisans. Like their steel predecessors, the cases measure a contemporary 42 mm in diameter, with a slender Piaget profile of 6.5 mm thick. The non-gem-set model in 18k rose gold features dark blue details on the movement’s bridges and plates to contrast elegantly with the tones of the case and harmonize with the blue alligator strap, which is equipped with a quick-change system.
Another model in 18K white gold offers the same case dimensions, and the same blue colorways on the openworked dial and quick-change strap, but adds “a touch of glamour after dark” with its gem-set bezel, incorporating 56 sparkling, brilliant-cut stones. According to Piaget CEO Chabi Nouri, in an interview conducted during Watches & Wonders, the use of eye-catching colors was just the latest creative way in which Piaget has made its skeletonized manufacture calibers distinct. “In the last seven years, we have built 12 skeleton [timepieces], all from scratch,” Nouri says. “We approached them each very differently: some were decorated, some were engraved, paved, or set with stones. This year, we decided to treat them with color, starting with the steel blue and gray models earlier this year, and also worked on the finishing, making it sharper and more contemporary to match the look and feel of the Polo collection.”
Of course, Piaget has applied its legendary jewelry-making savoir faire to the new models as well. The High Jewellery version of the Piaget Polo Skeleton dazzles with its white-gold case and flange, bedecked with 148 brilliant-cut diamonds and 132 baguette cuts, as well as its movement, whose key components are also forged from gold, hosting 292 brilliant-cut diamonds and 11 brilliant-cut sapphires. This version of the openworked movement, which like its non-gem-set sibling uses an off-centered micro-rotor to wind its mainspring, has been dubbed Caliber 1200Di and is, according to Piaget, the thinnest diamond-set skeleton movement in the world. Integrating stone-setting into a watch movement, Nouri says, requires a high level of coordination between the creative teams, from designers to watchmakers to jewelers. “Everything impacts everything else,” she points out. ‘The weight of the hands and indexes, the complexity of the mechanism, the weight of the stones — it’s another reason why being fully integrated helps, because all of the people in all of the fields are truly working together.”
The case of the High Jewellery model is only slightly thicker than the non-stone-set cases, at 7.99 mm, and adds a rose-cut diamond set into the crown. The white-gold clasp of the version mounted on a gray alligator strap also hosts an additional six baguette-cut stones. For those seeking even more sparkle, Piaget also mounts the watch on a white-gold bracelet, fully paved with 184 baguette cuts and 1,258 brilliant cuts for a combined weight of 15.6 carats and a supremely eye-popping design.
Skeletonized wristwatches are mostly regarded as a relatively modern invention, but Nouri points out that Piaget has been dabbling in the style for more than 50 years, and counts the late jazz legend (and Piaget client) Miles Davis as one of its wearers. “Piaget has always been ahead of its time, or perhaps out of its time,” she says. “We’ve always done, and continue to do, things that are not common. Skeletonization has always been one of the stylistic codes of the brand, along with ultra-thin elements, and we have mixed these two codes in an absolutely elegant, comfortable watch.” The High Jewellery editions are available as of April 2021, with prices beginning at 297,000 Swiss francs. The rose-gold and white-gold-diamond-set models are slated for release in September 2021, priced at 43,100 CHF and 58,500 CHF, respectively. Nouri promises more innovations to come in this Year of the Polo, starting in the fall.