The Dandy Watches Of Piaget
by Martin Green
Dandies and Piaget have always enjoyed a natural alliance (please find my definition of a dandy in An Introduction: Dandy Watches).
There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, there is the brand’s decision to make only watches using precious metals; secondly, there is the decision to fit them with manufacture movements that are as small and thin as possible – an element that allows nearly unprecedented freedom for the brand’s designers, which they seized.
There were years when Piaget easily had 400 different references in its collection. And when you combine this with a relatively modest production, you know that each piece by itself is rather exclusive.
Even today Piaget only makes about 20,000 watches a year, and among these plenty would appeal to the modern-day dandy, especially those Piaget puts in shaped cases. While round is of course always a good choice, especially when fitted with one of Piaget’s exquisite ultra-slim movements, a different shape is simply dandier!
Piaget’s Vintage Inspiration line seems to be an obvious dandy choice, and while it does tick many boxes it was also the watch of choice for perhaps the most famous dandy of all, Andy Warhol. Since there is no credit due for wearing the watch of choice of another (famous) dandy, many will probably steer away from that one.
Travel like a dandy: Piaget Emperador Cushion Dual Time Zone
The Piaget Emperador Cushion with second time zone offers a combination of style and functionality that is certain to appeal to the modern dandy, especially one that travels a lot. The case shape is distinct yet harmonious, and with a diameter of 42 mm it is comfortable to wear, the height of a mere 8.9 mm ensuring that it slips easily under a tailored cuff.
As a dandy is as much concerned about what is going on inside the watch as outside of it, it is more than pleasing to find manufacture Caliber 850P ticking inside the cushion-shaped case. Only 4 mm in height, the movement features a full-size rotor captivating with its circular côtes de Genève, which we also find on the bridges and main plate. Combined with blued screws, these elements give the movement a very clean, contemporary look.
The balance wheel is secured under a full bridge, offering added stability, which is especially appreciated in a watch aimed at traveling as this Piaget is.
Rule like a (Piaget) Gouverneur
Because shaped watches (a term meaning anything outside of round) is in Piaget’s “DNA,” the brand is one of the very few manufactures that can make an oval-shaped watch look good. This odd shape works like a magnet on any dandy, especially when it comes with a dial that is just right.
By dividing the Gouverneur’s dial into segments, Piaget cleverly blends the oval-shaped case with what seems like a round dial. The guilloche pattern around the outside of the dial gives it a distinct level of refinement, while the date is neatly integrated into the design at 6 o’clock.
The watch is powered by Piaget’s own Caliber 800P, an automatic movement from the same family as the one powering the Emperador Cushion, only slightly less complicated as it lacks a second time zone.
The Piaget Gouverneur is an excellent example of how a different shape can turn a timepiece from a run-of-the-mill gold watch into a captivating design befitting a dandy – but, of course, only when the shape is molded into a watch by a brand with long experience in doing so.
Not everything that shines is gold: the Upstream
Sports watches rarely become true dandy watches.
First and foremost, dandies often prefer the soft touch of precious metal on their skin, and the butch style of many sports watches, as well as their common acceptance in the watch world, ensure they are not top picks for dandies.
As always, there are exceptions to this rule and the Upstream is one such exception from Piaget’s recent past.
This watch was actually the very first Piaget to combine a manufacture movement with a case not made of precious metal, but that was not even its main attraction. With the bracelet integrated into the case of the Upstream, it is a watch unlike any other. Even for a large, steel sports watch it is comfortable to wear, while a dandy will also appreciate its rectangular lines, which is not common in sports watches.
As well made and original as the Upstream was, a commercial success it was not – and production was discontinued in 2007. This is not something a dandy finds disturbing; it is actually a recommendation, as it confirms the dandy’s excellent, yet slightly nonconformist taste. And that is also the reason a dandy would pick this watch over the more commercially targeted stainless steel Polo S from Piaget’s current collection.
You might also enjoy An Introduction: Dandy Watches.
Quick Facts Piaget Emperador Cushion
Case: 42 x 8.9 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 850P
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date: dual time zone
Quick Facts Piaget Gouverneur
Case: 43 x 9 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 800P
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Quick Facts Piaget Upstream
Case: 33 x 40 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 504P
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Production years: 2001-2007
Price: $6,100 original retail price