A highlight of Piaget’s novelties launched during Watches & Wonders 2020.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept – The Thinnest Watch That You Can Now Own
Throughout the entirety of its modern history, Piaget has carved a niche for itself in a genre of refined elegance as its watches and jewellery graced the wrists and necks of Hollywood superstars. Then in 2018, the Maison stunned the industry, combining its signature glamour with mind boggling technical prowess – giving the world the remarkable Altiplano Ultimate Concept – the thinnest mechanical watch in the world.
Ultra-thin mechanical watchmaking belies a craft and know-how which exists beyond the likes of well-known complications like the tourbillon or perpetual calendar. A watchmaker essentially takes the most “basic” of movements and asks the question – what is extraneous? In doing so, tolerances grow increasingly precise, like a finely balanced cosmic equation on which all life depends, interpreted into a microcosm of gears and wheels where a millimetre determines success or abject failure.
Measuring a gossamer 2mm, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept runs robustly (an indication of a job well done): the innovation was not just constrained to ideas conceived on watchmakers’ bench where wheels were reduced from a conventional 0.20mm thick to 0.12mm; but also combined the talents of the primary crafts involved in horology – the casemaker making a case that formed part of the movement, the invention of a unique, integrated winding crown to save space vacated by the winding stem, glass makers shaping ultra-thin crystals normally 1mm thick in a standard watch, being pared-down by 80 per cent to a scarcely believable 0.2mm; all the crucial metiers including new concepts for barrel and energy regulation.
Not one to rest on its laurels, 2020 sees the power reserve of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept extended to more than 40 hours thanks to a new dreamless design mounted on a ceramic ball bearing, a record in the canon of ultra-thin watches, catapulting a “concept” beyond mere experiment but into a bonafide revolution of horological micro-engineering for watch aficionados.
The watch, as thin as a One Euro coin, is the work of four years, during which many of the established codes of watch defined initially by the 2018 prototype were re-invented and refined.
A journey of unprecedented miniaturisation, Piaget filed no less than five patents; while the creation of a case which also serves as movement mainplate was something already see in 2018, the new Altiplano Ultimate Concept improves upon its material structure, eschewing traditional gold for a cobalt- based alloy that is highly resistant, 2.3 times more rigid than gold and combined with architecturally inventive ideas like putting the hands on a plane lower than the bridge.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept is better able to withstand the rigours of daily-wear, handling G-Forces experienced in an aerobatic jet right up to (unbelievably) the force of a meteorite crashing into the earth.