HANDS ON: The Piaget Limelight Gala – winner of the GPHG ladies’ watch prize lands in Sydney

Coming face-to-face with an award-winner can be nerve-wracking. When you’ve watched from afar, seen photographs, read reviews, you’re always curious to know whether things will live up to the hype. These days, after all, it’s spin that makes the world go round.

So, yes, the preamble to meeting Piaget’s pink gold Limelight Gala, complete with Milanese bracelet, was understandably tense. This was just a couple of weeks after it had won the ladies’ watch prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) – what if, away from her wintry hemisphere of choice, she wilted under the harsh Australian sun? What if, in this chaotic, exhausting lead-up to Christmas, I mis-shuffled my facial expressions, and instead of a ‘Wow’ dealt out a yawn?

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I needn’t have worried. She may have been a long way from her Swiss home, but as with all the true divas, there were no signs of jet lag. She was golden. And I don’t merely mean ‘made of gold’ – even though that’s true: 18k pink gold. I’m talking about a radiance that somehow goes beyond the material. Golden like sun-kissed sand. Like maple syrup. Like the light just before sunset on a summer’s evening. Too poetic? OK, golden like Jennifer Aniston’s complexion. Now you get it.

The original Limelight Gala hails from 1972 – a decade when Piaget was a hit with the world’s most glamorous movers and shakers, and needed watches to match. If you’re not familiar with their pieces from the era, you’re missing out. Feast your eyes on these:

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Happily, the 2016 model doesn’t shy away from that inspiration. There’s the mesh bracelet, for a start, as well as the asymmetrical lugs that allow the diamonds – 62 of them, brilliant-cut, in graduated sizes – to drip decadently from the bezel to the bracelet. The Roman numerals, meanwhile, are unapologetically bold, as is the size; at 32mm, it’s larger than many women’s dress watches. All things considered, it ought to add up to a watch that’s really quite gaudy. But it doesn’t.

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That’s thanks in part to the Milanese bracelet. It’s – you guessed it – gold, but though it looks solid once on the wrist, it’s super-supple, and a real testament to Piaget craftsmanship. Those asymmetrical lugs I mentioned are perfectly curved, which means it hugs the lines of the wrist. Oh – and it doesn’t require sizing – this golden girl fits anyone, right out of the box. (Extra points for the cheeky bonus diamond on the buckle, raising the total to 63, and to the clever sunken crown that leaves those curves uninterrupted.)

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Naturally, as watch purists, we wish this were powered by a mechanical movement rather than quartz but, on the whole, Piaget’s women’s watches have always been jewellery first, and timepieces second.

Anyway, while it can handle a quick splash thanks to 30m water resistance – and it certainly looks like it would be right at home in a Slim Aarons photograph – this is the closest I’m willing to take it to the pool. Cheers.

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Hitting Bondi Icebergs with the Piaget Limelight Gala for a chilled Chardonnay

Piaget Limelight Gala on Milanese bracelet Australian pricing

Piaget Limelight Gala gold, on Milanese bracelet, $55,000

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