Are Watches Getting Boring?By Mr Talking Hands
Do you know what? Watches sure can be boring. Black? White? Something wild, like grey, perhaps? For the majority of us privileged to be able to see in colour, it feels like a complete waste that 90% of the watches out there are some shade or other of dull.
The Piaget Polo Skeleton does indeed come in a fetching shade of rainy day, and it does actually look very good in grey, but there’s something about the blue that’s also available that just makes the watch feel more alive. Maybe because things that are alive usually have a bit of colour to them. There aren’t many grey houseplants about.
As well as being boring, watches these days are thick. How did that happen? They didn’t use to be. But now they are. Not this one though. Piaget’s use of a dense tungsten micro rotor inset into the calibre demonstrates that a watch can be practical and comfortable, sizing up at just 6.5mm in thickness.
Piaget has long been known for making ultra-thin watches, and indeed the ultra-thinnest, its ground-breaking Altiplano Ultimate Concept setting the benchmark at just 2mm. By comparison, 6.5mm is a doddle to Piaget, yet somehow the Polo Skeleton is in a class of very few when it comes to such slender proportions.
So, although there may be some who bemoan the 42mm breadth of this watch, given how tightly it sits against the wrist, it can’t really be considered in the same context as the usual expectation. It’s so different, in fact, that it feels like an entirely new watch—and it kind of is. The larger diameter of the movement eats the case down to the merest sliver of steel around its perimeter, pinched at the corners and fit to bursting.
At £26,500, the Polo Skeleton is indeed a lot of money, and so even the merest glance should offer an experience akin to Space Mountain on acid. Not much is left of the 2.4mm-thick calibre 1200P after the cosmetic surgery that transforms it into the skeletonised 1200S, but the parts that remain, structural as they may be, have been sculpted into something rather nice to look at.
The bridges linking the seemingly random peppering of jewels securing the innards in place have somehow turned chaos into a swooping elegance that demonstrates Piaget’s experience not only crafting instruments that tell the time, but also exquisite luxury that need do little more than look nice.
It would be old-fashioned to call it a feminine touch, but compared to many, many watches whose design seems to originate from an engineer’s lexicon, the 1200S feels like much more of a creative collaboration.
And as pretty as it is to look at, especially in this laser blue, it offers more than would be expected for the real watch fan. In a bid to get the movement down to 6.5mm, there’s very little overlap of componentry, making the mechanical journey from start to finish easily traceable. The mainspring, open-worked, reveals the source of the watch’s power, coiling with every spin of the rotor weight.
From the back we see the transference through to the centre wheel, third wheel, fourth and escape wheel, before all that energy is wrangled by the pallet fork and balance wheel. Very unusually, the motion works, which allows the minute hand and hour hand to sit astride each other, can be seen from the front.
What stands this Polo apart from both its stablemates and its competitors is that this time it’s playing on home turf. Ultra-thin movements crafted with jewel-like perfection is where Piaget really shines, lifting the Skeleton from just another luxury sports watch contender to a whole other category of its own.
There are other skeletonised sports watches out there, for sure, but where those feel like sports watches that have been skeletonised, this feels like a skeletonised movement that’s been sports watched, the case and strap a portable display for this piece of mechanical eye candy.
Not every watch needs to be this forward. It’s good that the origins of watchmaking, a practical pursuit, continue to be upheld, but it’s even better that we can have more if we want it. The machinations of the everyday world can be tedious enough without having to take our pastimes seriously too, and the Piaget Polo Skeleton is a reminder that it’s all too easy to forget to have fun.
So, if you find yourself becoming one of those “serious collectors” and the sense of joy you once had is starting to wane—check one of these out. It’s sure to remind you why you started with all this in the first place.