Piaget throws the gauntlet with this new addition to the luxury stainless steel genre by skeletonizing their Polo. We spent some time with both new models – the Blue Skeleton and the Grey Skeleton, and here is our review.
Retail price is SGD43,500 inclusive of GST.
Piaget Polo Blue Skeleton
While we may not have snugged up close to the original Polo (1979) and Polo S (2016) as much as we did the other watches in the luxury steel sports watch genre, we still feel that it is a nice watch.
In the serious collector community, the Polo is much maligned, and sometimes ignored or overlooked as an affront and me-too of the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or the worshipped Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A. We think, probably undeservedly so.
So when Piaget released this new Skeleton series, our interest were piqued. Neither AP nor PP have a skeleton version of their iconic pieces. (AP used to have one, but it is not in their current catalog.) And Piaget has upped the ante by starting off with an ultra thin movement as the base. And done the skeletonizing very well. After all, Piaget is one of the masters in the art of skeletonizing.
The process of skeletonizing is an intricate reduction of dials and movements to bare minimum to reveal the beating heart of the watch in its mechanical glory. Creating a skeleton watch requires vision, confidence, time and considerable skill, tempered with experience of specialists such that the final product is not only aesthetically pleasing, but the watch must remain legible, with its mechanical integrity remaining uncompromised.
Two versions of the Polo Skeleton is offered – the Blue, which is the subject of this review, and a Grey version. Both are exactly the same except for the hue of the bridges and associated aesthetic elements.
The case, dial and hands
The case shape on the Polo Blue Skeleton is the recognizable from its 1979 Yves G. Piaget roots. It is perhaps unfortunate that the shape is mildly reminiscent of the Nautilus. And as the introduction date is several years after the famous Patek, Yves might have borrowed some ideas. We don’t know for sure.
The case remains a rather large 42mm diameter, 6.5mm thick and crafted in steel, and features a polished bezel with polished, chamfered sides over a case middle which extends into the horns. Yves Piaget is said to stated that the “entire Polo philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: it’s a watch bracelet rather than a mere wristwatch.” This may have been true in the early Polos, but starting with the Polo S and here with now the Polo Skeleton, we find that with the bracelet fixed, the transition from watch head into the bracelet is not quite seamless as it was in the first generation Polos. A small gap appears at the transition, and seems to be more similar to standard bracelet watches like Rolex, rather than an integrated bracelet examplar. However, we found the gap tolerances to be very good, and the entire construction is quite nice and sturdy.
Immediately striking on the Blue Skeleton model is the magnificent contrast between the brilliant silver shine of the appliqué numerals and the skeletonized hands over the very fetching cornflower blue of the skeletonized bridges. The blue is made with blue PVD, and the hue somewhat similar to that of the flame blued steel screw we see often in haute horlogerie movements.
As a result, legibility is quite good, as the contrast is excellent. The hands are skeletonized, and because of the faceted surfaces, catch light in an alluring way so as to enhance legibility as well as aesthetics. The same is not true for the Grey Skeleton, which we find the monotone nature of the dial and hands make legibility difficult.
Each Polo Blue Skeleton is delivered with both the integrated steel bracelet as well as an alligator strap with folding clasp. Swapping straps for bracelet and vice versa is a simple and efficient process of just pushing
Overall, we were very impressed with the looks of the watch. The blue is very nice. The skeletonizing is well done, and the entire watch feels sturdy and well constructed, in either strap or bracelet. The bracelet does not taper towards the clasp, but is well constructed with good gap tolerances.
The movement – Piaget 1200S
The movement in the Blue Skeleton is the caliber 1200S. This is an elaboration of skeletonizing over the base 1200P ultra-thin movement. The 1200S is fitted with numerous interesting innovations. The off centered micro-rotor contributes to some of the slim attributes. The use of a micro-rotor does not compromise the power reserve, as the movement runs for a full 60 hours. A balance bridge is used instead of a cock to provide structural integrity as well as a harmonious and symmetrical aesthetic. The bridge of the hour wheel is made to be very slim, and was further reduced in width with a minimum measurement of 0.11 mm in order to reach the extreme thinness of the movement. The entire movement is a mere 2.4mm thick.
The movement finishing is also rather interesting and perhaps unusual. In the search for a style of its own, an unusual decorative work containing alternating matt surfaces – sun-brushed and sand-brushed is used, offering a contrasting look with the shimmering brilliance of the edges as well as the rhodium in a very beautiful cornflower blue similar to the hue achieved by flame bluing steel.
The 1200S is used in various skeleton Piaget ultra thin watches, including their famous Altiplano Skeleton series. When we inspected the carnet sample we had on hand, the construction looks to be very robust, and are satisfied that it should stand the rigours of a gentleman’s daily routine quite well.
Piaget also went to some lengths to explain to us in a video call that the movement has amagnetic properties. We are not quite sure how this is achieved, and asked, but at time of publishing, the technical team in Switzerland have not reverted to us yet.
The competitive landscape
The world of the luxury steel sports watch is now starting to get crowded. Joining the original pioneers of the concept – Audemars Piguet with their Royal Oak in many case and dial options, Patek Philippe with their Nautilus, Vacheron Constantin with their Overseas, are the new entrants from Chopard with their Alpine Eagle, Moser with the Streamliner, Bell & Ross with their BR05, Czapek with their Antarctique, and even from A. Lange & Söhne with their Odysseus.
Most of these vendors do not offer a skeletonized dial version. AP has discontinued the Royal Oak Openworked Selfwinding, and currently only offers the skeleton dials and movements with a Double Balance in a ceramic case or with a Tourbillon, also in ceramic. VC Oveseas skeleton lineup only list the GPHG winning Perpetual Calendar Skeleton, and only in a rose gold case The Lange Odysseus currently does not have a skeleton version, and it is unlikely Lange will release one as it is not in line with their teutonic philosophy. The closest in their catalog might be a Lumen model, which does not yet exist in the Odysseus collection. Maisons like Chopard, Moser, Czapek have no models with a skeletonized movement.
Perhaps we may also take a look at the list of not-the-usual suspects. IWC, Omega, Breitling do have skeleton models. As do, Zenith in their Defy Classic with Skeleton Dial may be on this list, as well as the Bell & Ross BR05 Skeleton. These are excellent watches, but are not haute horlogerie and round up the lower end of the budget scale. None of these offer the level of finesse in the movement or even case, dial and hands as the Piaget does.
Perhaps closest to maison style is Cartier – both having a flair for fashion and jewellery. One might consider the Santos de Cartier Skeleton which retails for SGD 39,800 in steel. However the Cartier is a manually wound watch and not ultra-thin. It is also delivered with both a steel bracelet and an alligator strap with a quick change mechanism.
Another useful comparison might be to the base Polo S. In terms of pricing, the Polo Skeleton a rather large premium over the Polo S of more than 3X. Though, in our discussion with Piaget, they were quick to point out that this too may not be an apple to apple comparison as the Polo Skeleton starts the skeletonizing work on the movement on the ultra thin C. 1200P movement instead of the standard C. 1100 movement, which is not only thicker and has a shorter power reserve. Comparisons to the Altiplano is also not quite meaningful although the Altiplano line uses the same movement, but is only offered in a more classical case in precious metal. The base Altiplano Skeleton in gold retails for EUR 58,000 compared to the Polo Blue Skeleton at EUR 28,700.
The Polo Blue Skeleton is an amazing watch. We are absolutely besotted by its handsome good looks. The blue is mesmerizing. The contrast on the dial is superb, leading to high legibility which is class leading for an openworked dial design. We are very impressed with the artistry that has gone into the skeletonizing works. And the amazing heft, or lack of, on the wrist when compared to the regular Polo S.
This asking price is undoubtedly quite high. SGD 43.5k is no small change. But do not think it is over-priced. We can easily see where the money has gone into. The Polo Blue Skeleton is well built, and makes no structural compromises nor aesthetic ones with the skeletonizing. It simply oozes with class. If you can afford to pony up the money, it can even be a good buy. As a reminder, the Patek Philippe Nautilus’ last listed retail price is SGD 44,500 and it is not skeletonized.
Piaget Polo Blue Skeleton / Grey Skeleton Specifications
-42mm case, 6.5mm thinness
-Piaget manufacture self-winding skeleton movement 1200S
-Blue / Grey skeleton dial
-Slate grey coloured oscillating weight
-Sapphire case back
-Functions: hours, minutes
-Powerreserve: 44 hours
Supplied with both interchangeable steel bracelet with interchangeable alligator strap, integrated folding clasp
G0A45004 / G0A45001
The regular Polo S has 100m wr. Which is a must for a so called ‘sport watch’ imho.