Earlier this week — while international watch journalists were frolicking around Gstaad — Piaget took the time to courier a few prototype versions of its new Polo 79 to Australia, where local media had the chance to go hands-on with a release that feels like the first big shot across the bow, for watch culture in 2024.
Limited to 79 pieces globally, the Polo 79 has been variously described as a “revival” or “reissue” of the best-selling Piaget sports watch of the same name — first released in, quelle surprise, 1979.
Originally made as a duet of 34mm and 27mm watches, the OG Polo is considered (by many vintage watch enthusiasts) to be the most important project greenlit during fourth-generation chairman Yves Piaget’s tenure at the company.
Worn by artists and elite members of the European leisure class — whom historians would retroactively refer to as the “Piaget Society” — it was, in many ways, the perfect synthesis of the Piaget brand DNA: part intricate gold bracelet, part ultra-thin timepiece, and capital-B Baller in its aesthetic.
This modern remake both duplicates and marries together the most recognisable design codes of the old men’s and women’s references. Probably cognisant of the fact that the original Polo was, chiefly, a showcase for the quality of goldsmithing at Piaget, the dial remains stripped back: unadorned save for the handset, brand signature, and dotted minute track.
In contrast to its spiritual forebear, at the time of writing, Piaget is only offering the Polo 79 in a single 38mm x 7.35mm size. Those measurements aren’t necessarily going to work for everybody, but in conversations I had with brand personnel; one running theme was that this size had been developed in consultation with existing Piaget clients — many of whom have reportedly been clamouring for a gold sports watch in a highly contemporary size.
And speaking of gold, there’s enough of the proverbial stuff here (200g to be exact) to satisfy even the most Fort Knox-obsessed villain. On the wrist, the effect is dramatic and immediately striking: owing to the gadrooned, single-link construction that continues uninterrupted from clasp to dial. (If you’re familiar with the light show that accompanies a Royal Oak, every time that watch is rotated under direct sunlight, this is in keeping with that.)
Finally, the other big breakaway from the OG Polo will be discovered once you turn this watch over. True to the tastes of modern collectors, the Polo 79 is a completely mechanical affair: powered by the same 1200P movement — equipped with a micro-rotor — that is in operation with the ultra-thin Altiplano collection.
The inclusion of a mechanical movement is, in and of itself, something of an easter egg. Being watches made during the height of the Quartz Crisis, most of the vintage Polos were powered by Piaget’s ultra-thin quartz 7P or 8P movements. However, as Hodinkee‘s Tony Traina points out, there were “a few extremely rare [automatic]” versions which are considered “grails for Polo collectors”.
That being the case, the Polo 79 feels like a clever twist (albeit very expensive) on a beloved classic. Above all that: for Piaget — a brand that’s experiencing a long overdue resurgence — this feels like the first step in a promising future direction.