If there’s one watch that perfectly defines the concept of an elegant, ultra-thin dress watch, it is the Piaget Altiplano. Refined, discreet, mechanically interesting and understated, this icon born in 1957 designed by Valentin Piaget has stood the test of time to become one of the definitive “tuxedo” watches. Already available in a very (too) restrained white and white dial version, this year the brand adds a new pink gold and blue dial version to its collection of Altiplano 38mm Hand-Wound watches. And yes, it remains ultra-thin, ultra-elegant, ultra-Piaget.
The story behind the Altiplano starts with the creation of a movement, the Calibre 9P, which is known for being one of the thinnest mechanical calibres ever created. This movement, seemingly simple due to a display reduced to only two hands, was, however, an immense technical achievement: it was only 2mm in height – and back then, there were no CNC machines, computer-aided design or LIGA technologies. Everything, from the conception to the assembly, was done the traditional way. This movement, together with its automatic counterpart, the Calibre 12P with micro-rotor created in 1960, gave Piaget its credentials as one of the masters of ultra-thin.
Having a movement was one thing but a suitable receptacle was also of the essence. And then came the Altiplano, a simple, elegant and restrained watch that will define Piaget’s watchmaking style for the decades to come. Sleek, minimalistic with angular shapes, this design has become timeless and is still the base today for modern Altiplano watches – and the 38mm Hand-Wound Blue & Pink Gold we’re looking at today.
In a review we published in 2017, Frank named the white gold version of the Piaget Altiplano 38mm “the perfect hand-wound dress watch“. Quite a statement but I’m sure he’ll stand behind it. You can easily be attracted by complications or sports watches, but when it comes to elegance, a time-only, ultra-thin, hand-wound watch with compact proportions is never going to disappoint. However, the white gold 38mm Altiplano might be too restrained and some will complain that the design is too shy – no applied indexes, no contrast between the case and the dial, not a single touch of colour…
Problem solved in 2020 with an evolution of this concept, the Altiplano 38mm Hand-Wound in pink gold with a blue dial – and a couple of evolutions on the dial too. And yes, this changes everything. The case retains its perfect proportions – 38mm in diameter and 6mm in height – and its coin-like shape. Entirely polished, the pink gold alloy of the case makes the watch warmer, more desirable, a bit more striking without being ostentatious either. It certainly is a luxury watch, but one with the elegance of an old-fashioned linen suit.
At 6mm in height, this watch is not the thinnest of Swiss production, however, it sits amongst the top-tiers of ultra-thin pieces. Bvlgari has recently demonstrated that it was also able to rival Piaget in terms of dimensions, but when it comes to “tuxedo” watches, Piaget is still there, on top of the mountain. The watch is worn on a beautiful, flat alligator strap in blue, which matches the dial and adds a slight touch of freshness and casualness to this piece. It is closed by a pink gold pin-buckle.
The main evolution, in addition to the new gold alloy, is the dial executed in dark blue with a sunray-brushed pattern. This combination of colour and texture makes the Altiplano 38mm more lively and more noticeable, but no less elegant. Blue and gold is a proven combination and it works great in this context. Also new to this model are the applied indexes, replacing the painted indexes of the white gold version. Once again, this animates the dial and gives more depth to this ultra-thin piece.
No surprises inside the case with the Calibre 430P, the cornerstone engine of ultra-thin Piaget models – which is also used by Cartier. As a descendant of the legendary calibre 9P, the 430P is extremely thin and has a thickness of just 2.1mm. Although the caseback is sealed – to avoid any additional millimetres sneaking in with a sapphire crystal caseback – the movement is decorated with circular Côtes de Genève on the bridges and balance cock, bevelled edges on all bridges, heat-blued screws and circular graining on the mainplate. Running at a frequency of 21,600vph, the movement offers a power reserve of approximately 43 hours.
Price and availability
The Piaget Altiplano 38mm Hand-Wound Blue and Pink Gold (ref. G0A45050) is a limited edition of 300 pieces, now available from boutiques and from the brand’s e-boutique. It is priced at EUR 18,600 or USD 17,500.
More details at www.piaget.com.