Home Estate Planning Piaget’s eighties icon the Polo gets a lavish reboot

Piaget’s eighties icon the Polo gets a lavish reboot

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Seventeen dollars… and a hell of a nice watch?” implores Steve Martin’s character, Neal in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), presenting his gold Piaget Polo to the motel receptionist. 

While Casio might disagree – John Candy’s own wrist candy failing to yield a room of his own – it’s one of the most iconic ‘watch moments’ in cinema, even helping to seal the deal with Ryan Reynolds as one-time ambassador for Piaget, since the John Hughes classic ranks as his favourite movie of all time. 

The year of Polo’s release (1979) was the nadir for the Swiss watch industry, still struggling to catch up with the Far East’s cheap electronic quartz takeover. So its narrative potency in a mainstream film speaks volumes of the Polo’s cachet at the time. 

A full 45 years after its launch, a like-for-like revival proves that cachet’s staying power – a fitting commemoration of Piaget’s 150th anniversary.

Admittedly Martin’s Neal had the clunkier vertical-grooved dial on leather dial, which may have secured a night’s stay at the Braidwood Inn, but one can’t help feeling a downtown five-star would have been on the cards if he’d worn what you’re looking at here. 

Far-more flattering horizontal grooves – or reverse-fluted ‘gadroons’, to adopt the artisanal lexicon – flow sinuously into a bracelet, all hand-polished to a flawless interplay of brush and mirror finish.

Back in 1979, Yves Piaget was clever in adopting and adapting this new, ‘integrated’ sports-watch style, made popular amongst the Riviera jetset in the Seventies. A new wave of sporty-chic, disco-luxe lifestyles cemented the cult of Audemars Piguet’s octagonal Royal Oak and the cushion-case Patek Philippe Nautilus; slick yacht-rockers that defied both brands’ stuffy pedigree. 

The young scion of Switzerland’s historic movement maker (Yves’ great-grandfather Georges Piaget set up shop in 1874 in the horological heartland of the Jura mountains) was himself something of a playboy, with a penchant for the equestrian. He crystallised his love of horses and the highlife in a single timepiece, which became emblematic of eighties glam. In line with the renewed currency for old-school mechanics over quartz, it’s been kitted out with the ultra-thin ‘1200P-1’ in-house-made movement, whose delicate mechanics can be admired ticking away through the crystal back (see inset pic). But other than that, Yves’ answer to customers who “want to be exquisite, even in sport” remains 24-carat. 

Give your Polo 79 away, and forever wake to the crushing realisation that “Those aren’t pillows!”

The Polo 79 (£69,000 in yellow gold) will be available soon at Piaget’s boutique, 169 New Bond Street W1S 4AN;

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