Superlight and super-slender, timepieces by Piaget reach the pinnacle of Swiss watchmaking excellence.
By Kristian Haagen
One of the world’s finest watchmakers, but perhaps also one of the lesser known, Piaget has a history reaching back to 1874. This was the year when Georges Edouard Piaget decided to venture into watchmaking rather than tending cattle on the slopes of the Swiss Jura Mountains near his hometown, La Côte-aux-Fées. The success of the Piaget family was nonetheless secured by other watchmakers in the area, such as Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Cartier and Omega, who all had timepieces crafted by the highly skilled Piaget family.
Not before 1943 did Piaget produce watches under their own brand name, and in the years following WWII, the company developed mechanical timepieces of such exquisite quality that Piaget has gained a position among the greatest names of Swiss watchmaking.
51 and ever-slender
Piaget’s reputation for designing fine and slender movements was established as early as 1960 when the company earned a place in the *Guinness Book of Records* as the maker of the world’s most slender automatic movement, the calibre 12P, measuring only 2.3 millimetres.
And this slender look is indeed what characterised one of Piaget’s most influential collections, Altiplano. A 50-year anniversary Altiplano model was issued in 2010 with an automatic movement measuring just 2.35 millimetres – even thinner than Piaget’s 1960 record-holder despite the space-requiring rotor in an automatic movement. Managing to fit everything into the 43-millimeter diameter case, Piaget once again proves that when it comes to miniaturisation they are still the greatest. And slenderness is indeed a defining feature of 17 of their series of 29 mechanical movements.
Hollywood and Polo
In the 1970s, Yves Piaget – fourth generation of the watchmaker family – developed a taste for the good life in Tinseltown. Yves Piaget created one of the brand’s absolute horological icons: Polo, which is named after that most aristocratic of equestrian sports enjoyed by the good and the great – and Hollywood celebs. “A star watch and the watch of stars,” Yves Piaget proclaimed when he launched this universally recognised watch where case and chain seem to melt into one, creating a bracelet-like look.
The sport of polo has been a seminal part of Piaget’s recent history, not least in Buenos Aires, a city famed for fostering some of the world’s best polo players – and polo ponies. Among the world’s top polo players with an impressive handicap of ten is Marcos Heguy, captain of Argentina’s Pilará-Piaget polo team.
Representing the sporty aspect of Piaget elegance, Polo celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009 when the Polo FortyFive model was launched, which as the name infers features a super-size case diameter of 45 millimetres. Neither slender nor small, the timepiece speaks to an audience seeking a masculine, sporty look. But the novelty isn’t just about size; it also has a new kind of casing – made of titanium. Piaget has flirted with the use of titanium earlier, with their not quite so successful Upstream collection. Lessons learnt, Piaget launched Polo FortyFive in this durable but superlight material and has reached an audience to whom Piaget watches were otherwise considered a fraction too feminine.
FortyFive and sporty
The Polo FortyFive watches are featured with a chronograph complication, designed by Piaget, with dual time zone display and a flyback function, which means that stopwatch functions are executed from the same button. The watches are also available with a calibre 800P complication without the mentioned functions. In 2011, Piaget launches an exclusive version of the Polo FortyFive that adds pink gold detail to the titanium. This model is also available with perpetual calendar for a classic, timeless appeal.