The Allure of Piaget: Reviving the Glamour of the 1970s

by Barbara Wilson

Piaget, the renowned brand known for its exquisite watches, is experiencing a renaissance as buyers flock to acquire vintage timepieces from the 1970s. The demand for these nostalgic designs has surged in recent years, resulting in escalating prices and a flourishing secondary market.


Eric Wind, a prominent US-based dealer, asserts that Piaget is currently having a moment, with a tremendous increase in interest compared to just a couple of years ago. This upturn in demand is evident not only in private sales but also at auction houses, where strong sales have been reported. Phillips, for instance, achieved an astounding SFr53,340 ($61,000), more than double the anticipated price, for a stunning gold, jade, and lapis lazuli integrated bracelet watch from 1970.


Coinciding with this resurgence in popularity, Piaget has embarked on a renewed emphasis on its heritage as it approaches its 150th anniversary next year. This milestone event is expected to further ignite interest in the brand. According to Wind, the owner of Wind Vintage, Piaget’s commitment to honoring its legacy will undoubtedly resonate with collectors and enthusiasts.


The fascination with Piaget revolves primarily around its iconic ultra-thin watches, which gained prominence with the introduction of the 2mm-thick mechanical 9P calibre in 1957 and the 2.3mm automatic 12P movement in 1960. Daniel Somlo, the director of Somlo London, a vintage watch store, observes a growing gravitation towards Piaget among watch aficionados, particularly for the 1960s and 1970s models that feature these groundbreaking movements. Somlo explains that collectors are becoming disillusioned with certain brands that restrict access to highly sought-after steel sports watches, leading them to seek something new. The 1970s pieces, in particular, offer a unique appeal due to the quartz crisis, which prompted Swiss mechanical watchmakers to push the boundaries of design and specifications to remain competitive.


Piaget’s masterful incorporation of ornamental stone dials further enhances the allure of their watches. These distinctive dials, introduced in 1963, gained prominence in the brand’s flamboyant gold sautoirs and cuff watches from the 1969 21st Century Collection. Piaget recently paid homage to this vibrant collection by unveiling two high jewelry sautoirs and three cuff watches at the esteemed Watches and Wonders fair in March. The display featured a captivating combination of new and vintage pieces, showcasing the brand’s commitment to maintaining continuity in design.

The vintage cuff watches, with their ornamental stone dials, have garnered considerable attention and commanded high prices at auctions. For instance, Sotheby’s sold a turquoise dial version from around 1970 for an impressive sum of SFr48,260. However, as Wind points out, the simpler stone pieces, which have been undervalued and often forgotten, are now making a robust comeback. This renewed interest can be attributed partly to the soaring prices of vintage Rolexes with stone dials, which sometimes reach six figures in dollars. In comparison, Piaget models offer a tremendous value proposition, with dials of similar quality and aesthetics available at a fraction of the cost.

In response to the growing demand, Piaget has introduced new timepieces that cater to both contemporary tastes and the nostalgia for the brand’s iconic designs. One notable release is the Black Tie Special Commission watch, a modern interpretation of a model once worn by the legendary Andy Warhol. The watch features a customizable stone dial, adding a touch of personalization and exclusivity. Moreover, Piaget has launched the Polo Perpetual Calendar with an obsidian dial, showcasing their commitment to innovation and elegance. Benjamin Comar, the CEO of Piaget, tantalizingly hints at the possibility of re-releasing the original 1979 Polo design, a move that would undoubtedly captivate enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Wind asserts that reissuing the original Polo design would be a “slam dunk” for Piaget due to the mounting nostalgia for this iconic timepiece. In recent times, the prices of 1980s gold Polos with quartz movements have experienced a remarkable surge. In just 18 months, these watches have doubled in value, fetching prices upwards of $10,000 for mint-condition pieces that were once sold solely based on their scrap gold worth.

As Piaget gears up for its lauded 150th anniversary, the company seeks to showcase the fusion of past and present in a flamboyant celebration of heritage. Plans include hosting exhibitions, unveiling new products, including an exquisite high jewelry collection, and organizing noteworthy events. The brand’s commitment to excellence will be visible throughout these initiatives, highlighting Piaget’s expertise in gold chains, ultra-thin movements, and intricate designs.

Comar notes that Piaget has witnessed a growing demand for its jewelry watches, a trend that has been mirrored in auction houses. Bonhams’ global head of watches, Jonathan Darracott, points out that the price increases noticed for hard stone-dial pieces have consequently translated to Piaget diamond watches in recent years. Darracott attributes this resurgence to the relative affordability of diamond watches in the secondary market compared to the primary market.

Furthermore, vintage Piaget watches from the 1980s have garnered significant popularity. A simpler diamond-set timepiece from around 1980 soared to impressive heights, achieving a remarkable price of £5,120 at a Bonhams auction in July, more than triple its lower estimated value. Magali Teisseire, who heads Sotheby’s jewelry and watch department in France, further exemplifies the interest in 1970s designs, fueled by a recent resurgence in jewelry from that era. Sotheby’s upcoming auction in Paris on October 3 is set to feature a captivating lapis lazuli, sapphire, and diamond watch with an estimated value of €7,000-€10,000.

According to Darracott, diamond designs from the past decade have consistently performed well at auctions, offering compelling options for buyers. In a notable sale at Bonhams, a unique white gold Piaget Sunlight Journey cuff watch from 2017, adorned with opal, emerald, and diamonds, fetched an impressive HK$639,000. Remarkably, the original retail price for this exceptional timepiece in Hong Kong was approximately HK$3.98 million.

Darracott speculates that Piaget’s watches have successfully transcended the realm of timepieces and become coveted jewelry items. The brand’s ability to strike the perfect balance between horological excellence and exquisite craftsmanship has made Piaget watches highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

While the prices of vintage Piaget watches have been steadily rising in the secondary market, Somlo believes they still have room to grow. He highlights an exclusive white gold and diamond-edge piece with a pavé diamond dial from 1988, which he is currently offering for £95,000. It is worth noting that this watch was originally priced at SFr250,000 over three decades ago, underscoring the potential for appreciation in the future.

In conclusion, Piaget’s revival and its growing popularity among collectors and buyers reflect the enduring appeal of 1970s vintage watches, which encapsulate the spirit of flamboyance and sophistication of that era. With a respectful nod to its illustrious heritage, Piaget continues to captivate the market with its visionary designs, expertise in stone dials, and commitment to refining the art of watchmaking. As the brand looks towards its milestone anniversary, Piaget’s fusion of past and present promises to create an immersive and memorable experience for all watch enthusiasts.


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