Review: Piaget Polo Skeleton
Does your collection feel like it could be a bit more … interesting? If the contents of your watch roll or safe or sock drawer—or wherever you keep your watches—is looking a little dull, a little sad, perhaps even a little monochromatic, maybe you need something in there to give it a bit more punch. Well, how about this then, the Piaget Polo Skeleton in—wait for it—blue. Here are three things that make it a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Do you know what? Watches sure can be boring. Black? White? Something wild, like grey, perhaps? For the majority of us privileged to be able to see in colour, it feels like a complete waste that 90% of the watches out there are some shade or other of dull. I get it, it’s like a car, you want a look that’ll hold its value, have the broadest appeal—but perhaps, every once in a while, it’s nice to let a bit of personality shine through.
The relaunch of the Polo collection in 2016—then known as the Polo “S”, the “S” presumably dropped to avoid being confused with the Skeleton—was met with some cynicism, the watch looking less like the 1970s Piaget that inspired it and more like a select group of its contemporaries. Whichever side of the fence you happen to sit on that, rest assured that the Skeleton variant is a whole other kettle of fish.
The Piaget Polo Skeleton does indeed come in a fetching shade of rainy day, and it does actually look very good in grey, but there’s something about the blue that just makes the watch feel more alive. Maybe because things that are alive usually have a bit of colour to them. There aren’t many grey houseplants about.
A deep, royal blue—almost the exact shade of my school blazer, by some strange coincidence—this colour lifts what’s going on inside the 42mm steel case to the fore, which is a good thing, because what’s there to be seen is well worth the effort of leaning in and squinting nice and close.
Blink a bit and what will come into focus is the calibre 1200S, which is an unexpected thing to see because usually the calibre is to be found on the other side. Not here with the Polo Skeleton, because as any good Halloweener knows, skeletons are pretty transparent. Not that their motives are obvious—I mean you can see right the way through. But before we talk about all the ways you can see this blue mechanical carcass, let’s talk about the one angle you can’t.
Look How Thin It Is
As well as boring, watches these days are thick. How did that happen? They didn’t use to be. But now they are. Not this one though. Piaget’s use of a dense tungsten micro rotor inset into the calibre demonstrates that a watch can be practical and comfortable, sizing up at just 6.5mm in thickness. The 44-hour power reserve gives credence to the old adage, “it’s not the size that matters, it’s the way you use it.” And not only can you use the micro rotor to keep the watch well wound, you can see it in action too, thanks to the skeletonisation.
Piaget has long been known for making ultra-thin watches, and indeed the ultra-thinnest, its ground-breaking Altiplano Ultimate Concept setting the benchmark at just 2mm. By comparison, 6.5mm is a doddle to Piaget, yet somehow the Polo Skeleton is in a class of very few when it comes to such slender proportions.
So, although there may be some who bemoan the 42mm breadth of this watch, given how tightly it sits against the wrist, it can’t really be considered in the same context as the usual expectation. Teeny tiny lugs make the Polo Skeleton feel like less of a watch and more of a window into the Terminator’s arm, were he made in Switzerland in the mid-20th century and addicted to raspberry Jolly Ranchers.
It’s so different, in fact, that it feels like an entirely new watch—and it kind of is. The larger diameter of the movement eats the case down to the merest sliver of steel around its perimeter, pinched at the corners and fit to bursting. Where the standard Polo is a bit like the fries you’re served, crispy and salty and tasty, the Skeleton is the picture you ordered from.
That Dial … Or Lack Of It
Ordinarily, when telling the time with the average watch, the user is greeted by a functional display arranged to offer information and not much else. That’s great when you’re fifty metres below sea level and your tank is running low, but for the other 99.9% of the time, reading a watch is less about urgency and more about remembering to enjoy the thing you paid a lot of money for.
At £26,500, the Polo Skeleton is indeed a lot of money, and so even the merest glance should offer an experience akin to Space Mountain on acid. Not much is left of the 2.4mm-thick calibre 1200P after the cosmetic surgery that transforms it into the skeletonised 1200S, but the parts that remain, structural as they may be, have been sculpted into something rather nice to look at.
The bridges linking the seemingly random peppering of jewels securing the innards in place have somehow turned chaos into a swooping elegance that demonstrates Piaget’s experience not only crafting instruments that tell the time, but also exquisite luxury that need do little more than look nice. It would be old-fashioned to call it a feminine touch, but compared to many, many watches whose design seems to originate from an engineer’s lexicon, the 1200S feels like much more of a creative collaboration.
And as pretty as it is to look at, especially in this laser blue, it offers more than would be expected for the real watch fan. In a bid to get the movement down to 6.5mm, there’s very little overlap of componentry, making the mechanical journey from start to finish easily traceable. The mainspring, open-worked, reveals the source of the watch’s power, coiling with every spin of the rotor weight. From the back we see the transference through to the centre wheel, third wheel, fourth and escape wheel, before all that energy is wrangled by the pallet fork and balance wheel. Very unusually, the motion works, which allows the minute hand and hour hand to sit astride each other, can be seen from the front.
What stands this Polo apart from both its stablemates and its competitors is that this time it’s playing on home turf. Ultra-thin movements crafted with jewel-like perfection is where Piaget really shines, lifting the Skeleton from just another luxury sports watch contender to a whole other category of its own. There are other skeletonised sports watches out there, for sure, but where those feel like sports watches that have been skeletonised, this feels like a skeletonised movement that’s been sports watched, the case and strap a portable display for this piece of mechanical eye candy.
Not every watch needs to be this forward. It’s good that the origins of watchmaking, a practical pursuit, continue to be upheld, but it’s even better that we can have more if we want it. The machinations of the everyday world can be tedious enough without having to take our pastimes seriously too, and the Piaget Polo Skeleton is a reminder that it’s all too easy to forget to have fun. So, if you find yourself becoming one of those “serious collectors” and the sense of joy you once had is starting to wane—check one of these out. It’s sure to remind you why you started with all this in the first place.
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