Forget Suits And Furs. Collectors Of Iconic ’80s Piagets Are Styling Them With Jeans And Nikes

When Piaget’s Polo 79 (pictured above) launched back in February, enthusiasts went into overdrive debating the RM350,000 all-gold mechanical reissue of the disco era’s (predominantly quartz) model. Its release has aligned with the style zeitgeist, with “mob aesthetic”—think luxe track suits and fur coats—trending and flashy dress watches, the kind once worn with macho suiting and a heavy dose of cologne, now seen on guys more apt to pair them with a T-shirt and A.P.C. jeans.

A Piaget Polo ad from 1985.

Consider it a form of revolt against the crush of steel tool watches that have dominated the market over the past five years. Tony Sylvester, London-based menswear designer of the independent label AWMS, says he wears a Piaget Protocole because he likes the juxtaposition of his bigger frame with a more delicate timepiece. “It’s quite nice to wear battered old jeans or a pair of combat trousers with a really formal watch,” he explains. “Especially when people would expect someone my size to be wearing a kind of tough sports watch, something military.” Meanwhile, in Florence, the sartorial set at Pitti Uomo in January went hard on delicately ornate dress watches—a vintage white-gold Protocole with a lapis-lazuli dial worn by one fashion buyer being a notable standout—and two months later at a Robb Report event in Austin, Texas, a 30-something venture capitalist strolled in wearing a quilted Swedish camo jacket, white Nike ACG sneakers, and a solid-gold ’70s-era Piaget with an asymmetrical dial.

Fatti Laleh, Piaget’s international director of communications and image. Photography: Luc Frey.

Dealers and others have been catching on to this pendulum swing. For the recent Rough Diamonds auction at Sotheby’s—a sale dedicated to unusual dress watches— the catalog referred to Piaget as “the single most ascendant brand in vintage collecting,” while Gai Gohari, a New York–based vintage dealer, started buying more Piaget a few years ago. “It was still underestimated and not appreciated, so it was possible for me to acquire these gorgeous watches and create sort of a new niche for myself and other collectors and see it grow,” he recalls. Now, he says, “it’s finally catching up with the mainstream public.” Gohari notes that clients tend to come looking for older versions of the recently released Polo 79, interesting stone-dial iterations, and the “Andy Warhol” model, a watch known for its stepped case with rounded edges that was once owned by the artist. It was reissued by Piaget in 2015 in a limited run of just 28 pieces, but the brand has teased that the timepiece will have another major moment by the end of this year.

And it’s not just vintage and retro-inspired new pieces that are getting attention. The ultramodern, ultra-slim Altiplano has also become a coveted collector model. Known for its razor thinness, the model’s latest feat is a flying tourbillon set within a case measuring just 2 mm—proof that the company can deliver both technical and design prowess.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon 150th Anniversary.

Piaget’s 150th anniversary this year will not only mark a century and a half of watchmaking expertise but will also highlight its new direction. A team with an entirely fresh perspective has been assembled under CEO Benjamin Comar, who took over the helm at the house in 2021. One of those new hires is Fatti Laleh, international director of communications and image, who was hired in 2022 from Baron & Baron, one of the fashion world’s most influential creative agencies. She’s already bringing an outsider’s take by tapping fashion photographer Brigitte Niedermair for Piaget’s upcoming ad campaign, which will feature real people alongside stories focused on the company’s heritage.

“The power of the aesthetic goes miles,” Laleh says. “I still have arguments with the team where I refuse to change an image because I know it will be outside of their comfort zone, but I know it will work.” Yet at the same time, she admits that what’s happening in the secondary market is also a driving influence. “The sharing of knowledge from the community of collectors gives the people on the inside [of the brand] the passion and the belief to keep going.”


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