Keep these three informations in mind: 1957 – 9P – 2mm. Three informations that sum up an immense technical achievement and define an icon of the watchmaking industry: the Altiplano. If we had to summarize Piaget to one single fact, it would inevitably be “ultra-thin” watches – even if this would clearly be a disappointing shortcut. Since 1957, Piaget is one of the best, if not the most significant representative of the ultra-thin concept, a story that started with the calibre 9P and its 2mm height (and now, you know why these three informations are so important). To celebrate 60 years of ultra-thin watchmaking, here is the Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection, to be introduced at the SIH 2017.
Piaget and the Ultra-Thin Watches
In 1957, Piaget, an already famous manufacture based in la Côte-aux-Fées, a small village in the Val-de-Travers, introduced what will remain for ages the pinnacle of the ultra-thin movement; the Calibre 9P. This movement, apparently simple due to a display reduced to only two hands, was however an immense technical achievement, as being only 2mm thick (in fact, we should say 2mm thin…) Imagine how complex it is to manufacture parts that as sometimes as thin as a human hair when you don’t have any kind of computer assistance – because in 1957, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing programs were their earliest stages. Everything, from the conception to the assembly, was done by hand.
Left, the manual wound Piaget 9P (1957) – Right, the automatic Piaget 12P with micro-rotor (1960)
Three years later, Piaget did it again, with now an automatic movement that was just 2.3mm thick, thanks to the use of a micro-rotor, saving some space versus the traditional centrally-mounted rotor. Now, these are just numbers. However, you have to imagine these two movements, manufactured 60 years ago or so, next to the actual production, designed with computers and manufactured with the help of CNC machines. The thinnest mechanical movement to date is 1.64mm (manually wound) and the thinnest watch is 3.60mm. Yes, these numbers are better than those of the 1957 and 1960 Piaget movements. But still, it remains properly impressive.
Piaget didn’t stop there, and in the recent years, the manufacture came up with other record-breaking watches: the thinnest watch (at the time of the introduction), the Piaget Altiplano 900P, with its 3.65mm case, the Calibre 1200P, an ultra-thin automatic movement with a 2.35mm profile, or the thinnest chronograph, the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph Flyback (4.65mm thick movement, 8.24mm thick watch). Ultra-thin is a long tradition at Piaget and, for the SIHH 2017, the brand has decided to pay a nice tribute to this savior-faire, with the introduction of the Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection.
The Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection
WIth this Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection, composed of two models – a 43mm automatic version and a 38mm manual version – Piaget draw on its roots, both on the design and mechanical sides, and dress these two watches in an elegant blue tone. Sleek dials, thin profiles (of course), case design that evoke the early Altiplano models, use of modern but historically-related movements… Everything here reminds about the brand’s greatest times, without forgetting the needs for modernity.
The 43mm Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Automatic
Dressed in white gold, the Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Automatic is a large masculine watch, with a 43mm diameter, however with an hyper-slim profile. This is all due to the presence of the Calibre 1200P, the worthy successor of the 1960 Calibre 12P, launched in 2010, after three years of research and development. This movement shares the same architecture with micro-rotor and represents the fourth generation of ultra-thin self-winding movements. Decorated with circular Geneva Stripes, perlages, anglages and blued screws, this movement with a blackened 22k gold mass can be seen through the sapphire caseback. The dial of the Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Automatic is simple and elegant, with long and thin batons indexes and hands, displaying the hours and minutes, and features a refined blue sun-ray pattern, with a cross in the center (something that again reminds of vintage editions). Its production will be limited to 360 pieces and, while the official price is not yet revealed, you should expect around 23,000 euros.
- Case: 43mm diameter – 18K white gold, polished – sapphire crystal on both faces
- Movement: Piaget Manufacture 1200P – in-house – ultra-thin movement 2.35mm thick – automatic winding via micro-rotor – 21,600 vibrations/hours – 29.9 mm diameter – 44h power reserve – hours and minutes
- Strap: blue alligator strap on white gold pin-buckle
The 38mm Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Manual
The second watch offered in this Anniversary collection is the Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Manual. While the first one was a bold statement with its 43mm case, this second edition plays the role of the black-tie watch or even the unisex offer, as cased in a 38mm white gold box. The visuals are the same; sun-ray blue dial with central cross, gold baton indexes and hands and sharp design of the case. Of course, considering the movement, the mention Automatic has been removed from the dial. This Piaget Aliplano 60th Anniversary Manual features another iconic movement of the Maison, the calibre 430P, representing the second generation of ultra-thin manual-winding movements after the 9P. While not visible, the movement benefits from the same attentions, with a fine decoration (Circular Côtes de Genève, perlages, beveled bridges, blued screws). This movement is technically impressive with its 2.1mm thickness and a comfortable power reserve of 43h (not that bad considering the thickness and the 20.5mm diameter). The plain caseback is engraved. Its production will be limited to 460 pieces and again the official price is not yet revealed – expect around 17,000 euros.
- Case: 38mm diameter – 18K white gold, polished – sapphire crystal on both faces
- Movement: Piaget Manufacture 430P – in-house – ultra-thin movement 2.1mm thick – manual winding – 21,600 vibrations/hours – 20.5 mm diameter – 43h power reserve – hours and minutes
- Strap: blue alligator strap on white gold pin-buckle
The Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection will be completed by other models, which will be introduced during the SIHH 2017. Prices and availability will be clarified at that time. www.piaget.com.