Backstory: How The Glitterati Forged The Piaget Polo 79

Harking back to the celebrity social scene of decades past, Piaget revives one of its vintage icons on the 150th anniversary of the maison’s founding
Harking back to the celebrity social scene of decades past, Piaget revives one of its vintage icons as the Piaget Polo 79

The heady ’70s and ’80s were a time of vibrancy and dynamism. It was the Golden Age of Hollywood, genres such as disco, punk rock and jazz fusion were dominating the airwaves and dancefloors, and pop, conceptual and performance art were all the rage, which made celebrities of actors, musicians and artists alike. And those people had an appetite for fabulous things: among the many admirers (and buyers) of jewellery and watches of the time were icons such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Andy Warhol, Miles Davis, Cary Grant and Alain Delon.

At the centre of their orbits, the linchpin of these “beautiful people” was Yves Piaget, the dashing fourth-generation descendant of Piaget’s founder, and then-president of the company. A virtuosic social butterfly and polo enthusiast, he hosted glitzy dinner parties in Paris where he sat shoulder to shoulder with Gina Lollobrigida and Sammy Davis Jr., attended and sponsored polo tournaments in New York and Florida, and often went horse riding in the Swiss countryside.

Polo, parties and personalities—that was the environment that inspired him to create the original Piaget Polo—the brand’s first watch with a model name and not just a reference number; the dazzling full-gold timepiece with an integrated bracelet was launched in 1979. It was soon spotted on the wrists of Andy Warhol, Nancy Sinatra, Roger Moore, and the first Bond girl, actress Ursula Andress, who served as ambassador for the Piaget Polo from 1980, and wore the watch to present the winner’s trophy at the Polo World Cup in Palm Beach, Florida, the same year.

While other sports watches launched during the same period tended to be in stainless steel, the Piaget Polo featured links and gadroons individually carved from a single block of gold. Advertised as “the world’s ultimate sportswatch for him or her” and described as “precise, waterproof and precious”, the Piaget Polo not only furthered the maison’s reputation as an expert watchmaker, but also demonstrated its jewellery instinct and flair. The watch was fitted with Piaget’s 7P movement, at that time the world’s thinnest quartz movement, and later the 8P, which was thinner still. Variations that followed included watches set with gems, presented in two-tone yellow gold and white gold, featuring dials of opal or turquoise, enhanced with a perpetual calendar, and fitted with a leather strap instead.

Now, the Piaget Polo makes a glamorous return to the maison as the Piaget Polo 79, a watch that retains the same full-gold expression, but with a mechanical movement (Piaget’s ultra-thin self-winding calibre 1200P1) and a more prominent case (slightly enlarged from 34mm to 38mm). Polished gadroons and brushed block links are arranged in an alternating pattern that extends throughout the entire timepiece, so that the case, bracelet and dial appear as one cohesive unit, and the watch is superbly articulated so that it sits close to the skin. But in essence, it retains the sports-chic aesthetic of its progenitor, so one can head from the pitchside to the after-party in style.