Created in 1979 as a casual luxury sports watch, the Polo today has evolved much in terms of design, to a greater degree than many of its contemporaries of that era. It’s toned down considerably, yet still maintains a certain distinctiveness, courtesy of mating its round case with a cushion-shaped window. What has become more extreme though, is what Piaget is doing with the Polo, to showcase the manufacture’s deep expertise in the two non-overlapping worlds of haute horlogerie and haute jewelry.
In terms of technical watchmaking, Piaget has thoroughly flexed itself in the construction of ultra-thin movements of ever thinning proportions, clocking more than its share of world records along the way. The immense challenges in this undertaking is not difficult to see: there are real physical limits in place before mechanical components cease to operate reliably. Where the Polo Skeleton is concerned, this began with the 1200P movement, already one of the thinnest self-winding movements in the world at only 2.35mm, with some of its gears thinned down to an unbelievable 0.12mm. Piaget then spent more than two years to create a skeletonised version of the 1200P, designated the 1200S. It took another two and a half years of development to arrive at the 1200S1 used in the present watch, an update featuring better resistance to magnetic fields.
The other half of the Piaget Polo Skeleton involves diamonds – lots of them. No less than 268 brilliant-cut diamonds adorn the 42mm white gold case. These are supplemented by a further 1,478 set into the integrated white gold bracelet. The diamonds have to be cut to measure being set, and the whole setting process takes more than 61 hours to complete.
Is Piaget a watchmaker or a jeweller? Is the difficulty in putting the manufacture in either box symptomatic of a lack of focus or failure of specialisation? Only if it does neither exceedingly well. But that is far from the case; like a superbly ambidextrous athlete, Piaget is able to execute both specialisations to an extreme degree of capability. After beating the self-winding movement as thin as it would go, it went on to excise as much material from the movement as the structure could bear and keep functioning. Skeletonization loves light, and powering the movement with a micro-rotor maximizes the amount of light that will pass through the sapphire crystals front and back. What next? Diamonds, because they love the light too, as faceted micro-prisms that scatter it every which way for a sparkle that seems to take a life of its own. Piaget just happens to be among a tiny handful with the in-house expertise to bring all these diverse yet complementary elements together.
Movement: Self-winding 1200S1 skeletonised manufacture movement, micro-rotor, 44 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes
Case: 42mm white gold, 7.35mm thick, case set with 268 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.43 cts), crown set with 1 reversed diamond (0.05 ct), sapphire crystal front and back, water resistant to 30 meters
Strap: White gold bracelet set with 1,478 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 10.04 cts)