Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar: The Casual Polo Sports Watch Finally Goes Upmarket
by Martin Green
Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar is a name that rolls right off the tongue. And it’s the watch I’ve been waiting for. Piaget launched its stainless steel sports watch in 2016, and apart from a chronograph, things stayed surprisingly uncomplicated in terms of movements.
The Polo Perpetual Calendar changes that and is hopefully the first in a more complex future that awaits the Polo.
Let’s get critical
Ever since my early days collecting watches, I have had a passion for Piaget. The brand’s ultra-slim movements, combined with intricate cases made of precious metals, as well as the frequent use of stone dials, won my heart. Piaget’s attention to detail and fine craftsmanship still brings a smile to my face every time I glance at my watch. The brand has enjoyed a long streak of success, and from the 50s to the 80s they were THE brand for the upper class. Piaget sold watches and jewelry designed by Salvador Dali, and was one of the few brands that conquered the quartz crisis by making their own battery-powered movements and launching them in the now iconic Polo.
Piaget’s market strategy didn’t change much over the decades, they focused on combining ultra-slim movements and only using precious metal for crafting their cases and bracelets. Mind you, they still are remarkably good at this. While there is now a focus on ‘who has the slimmest movement’ and Piaget seems to have been passed by Bulgari and Richard Mille, it is wise to remember two things. Piaget had been making ultra-slim movements when Richard Mille was still a toddler and Bulgari was depending on movements from other brands for its watches.
For Piaget, it was not all about having the slimmest movement. This is merely a bonus as the firm initially designed these calibers so that their designers had more creative freedom when there was less movement to take into account.
While this strategy worked wonders for years, it made Piaget unexpectedly vulnerable when mechanical watchmaking renaissance arrived in the 1990s. While they were seemingly well positioned, trends pointed towards oversized watches, stainless steel became popular, and dress watches were what your grandfather wore. So everything Piaget was good at was out of favor in a matter of years. This left the brand searching for a new direction, one that was outside its comfort zone.
With the Upstream, introduced in 2001, Piaget finally crafted a highly original watch to start competing. The Upstream was their first stainless steel watch in over four decades, and it came with an ingenious clasp integrated into the case. Retailing just above $6,000 it was ready to take on the competition but never really got the success it deserved. In hindsight, it might have been a bit too progressive, but now this makes it all the more rare and desirable, and an original alternative for those looking for a high-end watch in stainless steel with a manufacture movement.
For the Upstream’s successor, Piaget revamped the Polo, beefing it up to 45 mm, hence also the name Polo FortyFive. To keep the weight down, the Polo had a titanium case and was fitted with a rubber strap. While it wore quite large in the time-only models, the Chronograph-GMT and Perpetual Calendar made good use of the large dial size, giving Piaget a flair that it never had before.
For the Polo, this was quite a change as the original Polo was never intended to be worn by players on the field like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. It was more for the wealthy spectators and a watch wealthy stable owners put on their wrists after a match.
For me, this all changed with the current generation of Polo introduced in 2016. It was originally named Polo S, with that letter conveniently standing for both sport and stainless steel. I would have favored a strategy in which the Polo S was complemented by an all-precious metal collection positioned higher up the horological ladder to maintain the grandeur of Piaget. However, the focus remained mainly on the stainless steel versions, and eventually, it dropped the S in its name.
While the Polo S is not the first time Piaget deviated from their famous godroons in the design, it was also absent in the 1990s version of the Polo, and the current model always felt more to me like a sportive Emperador. In all honesty, I would have also loved to see it marketed as such. The rest of the Emperador line could have served to cover the higher-priced echelons, leaving the Polo name free to continue the essence of this collection.
Captain on shore
It is easy to come to these conclusions as an observer from my comfortable office, a captain on shore. But I should underscore that these are comments made out of enduring love and passion for Piaget as a brand. Regardless of history, the current generation Polo is a delight to wear, well-proportioned and sporty, while still retaining an elementary sense of elegance. It gets compared to the usual suspects in this category, but that isn’t doing it justice as its pedigree comes from elsewhere, and its price point is aimed at a different market segment.
With the Polo Perpetual Calendar, I feel that the collection is finally getting some room to breathe. While more complicated versions of a watch rarely take up the bulk in sales volume, they are the poster boys generating higher appreciation for their less complex siblings. In my opinion, the perpetual calendar was long overdue, and while I am at it, I am still waiting for a tourbillon.
Piaget is launching the Polo Perpetual Calendar with a green dial. While I expect other dial colors to follow, gren is a wise choice for the launch model. It shows a nice play of light emphasized by the different finishes of the subdials. Another clever feature is the way that the moon phase is shown in a smaller window at six o’clock. The benefit of this is that it both makes the dial look less crowded and ensures that the perpetual calendar doesn’t look too classic.
Overall, the dial is very well-proportioned and legible.
Inside ticks caliber 1255P, which is based on the time-only caliber 1200P, with its micro-rotor rooted in the history of Piaget. The blue finish of the micro-rotor in the Polo Perpetual Calendar gives it a contemporary touch.
Despite using a module for the perpetual calendar complication, the watch is still pleasantly slim, measuring just 8.65mm in height. I only wish that the water resistance was slightly higher than 30-meters, as I consider 50-meters as a minimum for a sports watch, and 100 meters as recommendable (though 100-meters requires a screw-down crown and thicker case), both of which Piaget should have been able to achieve with the Polo Perpetual Calendar.
Strap/bracelet and conclusion
As is the standard today, the bracelet can be swapped within seconds and without tools for a rubber strap, but I would recommend getting a green alligator strap to go with it. Then the dress watch-like qualities that the Polo Perpetual Calendar has should really come out. In that matter, it also represents the transition of the brand.
While I hope that they will take the Polo to an even higher level in the future, the Polo Perpetual Calendar is a welcome addition to the collection. It is one of those very wearable perpetual calendars, ready to put a smile on the face of its owner every time he or she looks at it, and that is, in my opinion, an elementary quality any Piaget should possess.
For more information, please visit www.piaget.com/watches/piaget-polo/steel-ultra-thin-automatic-perpetual-calendar-watch-g0a48005
Quick Facts Piaget Polo Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Slim
Case: 42 x 8.65 mm, pink gold, 3 ATM water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber 1255P, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; day, date, month, leap year, moon phase
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