The Piaget Polo Chronograph gets a line extension with the new limited edition (888 pieces) steel case with a panda dial in silver and blue. We review the new 2021 edition, and succumb to its charms.
Review: Piaget Polo Chronograph 2021 “panda dial” limited edition.
Retail price is SGD 23,100. The regular edition in blue or grey dial rubber strap has a retail price of SGD 21,300, and with steel bracelet at SGD 23,100.
The new 2021 “panda dial” edition is an extension to the Polo Chronograph lineup, which has existed with an all blue or all grey dial. This is the first time Piaget has used a panda styled dial – with a silvered background and contrasting blue sub-dial on the bi-compax chronograph.
This edition is limited to 888 pieces, and was announced together with another version in 18K white gold case, the first for Polo Chronograph. The WG version is set with 178 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.70 cts). Diamond-paved dial set with 286 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.0 ct) with blue counters.
The case, dial and hands
The case is the now iconic Polo S case, with its cushion shape, wide bezel, and 42mm nominal diameter. The design was created by Yves G. Piaget in 1979, no doubt in response to the luxury steel sports watch success of the Gerald Genta designs with Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe earlier.
The bezel and case are treated to contrasting finishing using a juxtaposition of satin straight graining (horizontally on the bezel – more of this later) with a high polished sloped shoulder of the bezel. This polished shoulder continues to the upper case middle and lugs, but the sides of the case are finished in a brushed grain.
The chronograph pushers are nominally rectangular shape, with rounded corners, and are also polished. The crown features a corrugated surface for good grip when winding and setting the time. The watch is delivered with a matching blue rubber strap with a 3 leaf deployant buckle.
The dial carries the horizontal stripes which we first saw in the Polo S, and closer to each other than the original 1979 design. These stripes fit in nicely with the horizontal grains of the bezel. This stripes are made with rules which are relief engraved guilloché, and play well with light to create a beautiful 3 dimensional aesthetic. The “PIAGET” nameplate and “AUTOMATIC” designation are printed on cartouches which are left unengraved. Piaget also chose to leave the outermost perimeter without these stripes and had the seconds indices printed, so events can be timed with precision. A date aperture at 6 o’clock within a framed window completes the dial.
The dial itself is a brilliant silver finish, and the two sub-dials, arranged in a bi-compax layout is in a contrasting blue. The sub-dials are carried with a silvered ring which highlights this contrast. Indices are appliqué in a silver finish with luminescent in-fill. The hands are Dauphine shaped, also with SuperLuminova infilling. The chronograph hand is a thin needle like design with the counterweight carrying the P logo within a rhomboid.
Overall, the dial side presents a very beautiful aesthetic. One that we much prefer to the more sober all blue or all grey versions in the current catalog.
The movement: Piaget 1160P Blue Movement
The movement used is the 1160P Blue. The notation “Blue” signifies that the rotor is treated in matching blue hue of the sub-dial counters on the dial side.
The 1160P movement is a development of the 880P self-winding mechanical chronograph movement. The movement is rather thin, a Piaget specialty and has a thickness of only 5.72 mm. The chronograph functions is controlled by a column wheel, which is visible in the photograph above. The rest of the chronograph works are below the dial and not visible through the sapphire case back. A vertical clutch construction is opted, and offers jitter free activation of the chronograph. The feel of the pushers are smooth, and an even pressure is needed to engage for either start, stop or reset. The engagement is positive with a nice, soft click when it activates.
Finishing is considered to be par for the course at this price level. The Piaget coat-of-arms is engraved on the blue rotor, and the rest of the movement is finished de rigueur, with Côtes de Genève decorations, circular-grained mainplate, bevelled bridges, sunburst wheels and blued screws.
The competitive landscape
The Polo Chronograph lies in an enviable position in the sports chronograph hierarchy. In many ways, it is one of the less obvious options when thinking of candidates in this landscape. And at a retail of SGD 23.100, it represents a rather good value.
Patek Philippe Aquanaut is the obvious comparisons. This is perhaps a bit unfortunate or fortunate depending on one’s perspective. On the one hand, the aura of the Patek foreshadow the Polo Chronograph in popularity and perceived desirability. On the other, the Polo Chronograph offers a lot of watch for the money, coming in at a considerably lower retail price. Plus, the luxury of being able to dispense of the queue in a waiting list. The Aquanaut dial layout is even simpler, with only one sub-dial, and is also delivered with a rubber strap. In a steel case, the Aquanaut Chronograph retails for whopping SGD 65, 500.
Chopard Alpine Eagle Chronograph is another competing watch. At SGD 26,500 for the steel versions with steel bracelet, it is costs more than the Piaget. The design of the Alpine Eagle Chronograph calls for a busier dial layout with three chronograph counters, and to date, Chopard does not offer contrasting dials, nor rubber strap versions.
The Piaget Polo Chronograph “panda dial” is certainly a charming watch. The contrasting dial design lends much to its overall aesthetics, which we absolutely love. The look is sporty, distinctive and very attractive. The detailing is very good at the price point it is pitched at, and as can be seen in our Competitive Landscape survey (granted, not exhaustive by any measure), is very competitively priced.
On the wrist, the 42mm case is very comfortable. The watch case is round cushion shape with extended lugs, but the overall look is tampered with the bezel shape, which is kind of a hybrid of round and octagon – the outer edge is round, while the inner edge is a kind of square with curved sides. This gives the bezel a somewhat organic feel, and the contrasting finishing applied adds to the charm.
The Piaget Polo Chronograph was photographed in the Piaget Boutique in Ngee Ann City, Singapore. Hasselblad H3D-39 with HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 with H28 extension tube. Profoto strobes.