As a general rule, watch names tend to be far too long-winded, and it’s certainly true that with the Piaget Polo Emperador Tourbillon Exceptional Piece, those last couple of words are superfluous. One glance at this preposterously extravagant timepiece tells you this could only belong in the “truly exceptional” category.
Piaget has traditionally dedicated a split focus between both watches and jewellery, but they also combine their skill in these twin disciplines with wildly ornate jewellery watches that found fame on the wrists of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy in the ‘60s and ‘70s. This latest release doesn’t just build on those luxurious foundations, it erects a skyscraper that towers to the clouds.
It should be pointed out at this stage that this not a watch inspired by the age of austerity. It’s a one-off creation that costs $2.69 million. Whether you can ever truly justify such a price tag is a questionable issue, but in terms of the sheer craftsmanship involved, what we have is a 49mm watch with a white-gold case. Normally, you might write that the case “houses” the movement. But given the jaw-dropping level of ostentation, “palaces” feels like the more appropriate verb. Inside is a tourbillon self-winding mechanical movement that is usually thick and bulky. Piaget – who have long specialised in ultra-thin technology – have contrived to make a skeletonised version that is just 6mm thick. This 1270D calibre takes 10 times longer to produce than a traditional flying tourbillon movement so it’s a very swanky complication. But the real talking point here is that it’s clothed in an even more decadent outfit.
Pretty much every millimetre of this case and bracelet dazzles with diamonds and sapphires. The crown? Yes, of course, that too. But where Piaget have really overreached is the skeletonised movement, which has also been set with baguette-cut gemstones, right down to the micro-rotor. Essentially, this is like opening the bonnet of a supercar to show off an engine that is festooned with precious stones. Every detail has been realised in the most lavish way imaginable. The movement’s oscillating weight, for example, is made of platinum and smothered with hand-bevelled, baguette-cut diamonds. Setting all these diamonds across the movement, case and bracelet took 200 hours of handiwork alone.
One of my favourite details about this watch is the fact that it’s water-resistant to 30 metres. This creates the surreal image of the eventual owner blithely taking this spell-binding treasure for a random paddle. Then again, who really knows? Such people occupy their own rarefied stratospheres and no doubt follow their own lunatic whims.
Ultimately, a watch like this is made less for the dollar return but for the sheer publicity that its magnificence demands. This watch is what haute couture is to a luxury fashion house or a concept car is to a motoring brand. It’s no longer a mere timepiece but a grand statement of Piaget’s technical ability and imagination. If you do succumb to its $2.69 million charms, however, please do remember: don’t dive with it to depths over 30m.