Hands-On – The Colorful 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic “Back To Basics” Collection
For now 60 years, the Piaget Altiplano has been one of the best (if not the most remarkable) definitions of what a slim, elegant and sleek dress watch should be. It has it all: the pedigree, the mechanical content, the design… Yet, in the recent days, the Altiplano might have lost a bit of boldness to become a clean and modern watch, yet with the usual attributes of the collection. For the SIHH 2017 and to mark the 60th anniversary of the model, Piaget brings back some eccentricity to the Altiplano and historically relevant features, with the new colorful 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic.
Back in 1957, Valentin Piaget introduced two future icons of watchmaking: the Altiplano (yet not named this way) and the ultra-thin calibre 9P. Being just 2 mm thick, the 9P was a technical achievement, especially at a time when no computer-assisted production was possible. Even today, such dimensions are a challenge for watchmaker. Imagine in 1957, when everything was done by hand and with not-so-precise machines. Impressive. 3 years later, Piaget launched the 12P, an ultra-thin self-winding movement measuring just 2.3 mm. This previously unthinkable degree of thinness was made possible by the use of the 24K gold off-centred micro-rotor, ensuring optimal barrel-spring winding efficiency. This at that time precisely that Piaget gained its status of “master of ultra-thin”.
For the SIHH 2017, the brand is paying a strong tribute to this now 60 years old collection, with an entire line-up of watches, which includes the blue versions (38mm and 43mm) we already showed to you here, and now some colorful, bold and desirable 40mm automatic models. This move is both surprising and interesting, as if you look at current collections by Piaget, there are more or less only watches with monochromatic styles and modern appraoch. For instance, the Piaget Altiplano Automatic (see here) shows a sleek white dial with black hands and painted indexes. Elegant for sure, but far from “funky”. With the new collection, based on the same movement, Piaget adds some historical references and some more colors to the catalogue.
The new 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic inaugurates 3 bright dials, what the brand names “patinated dials”. Midnight blue, slate grey (which happens to be warm and changing to brown in certain conditions) and pine green. This is far from the usual white opaline or black that we see at Piaget. The dials are all featuring a sunburst pattern, which greatly plays with the light and gives nice nuances. The blue changes from a bright sky blue to a almost midnight blue, with a pleasant gradient look, the green can be extremely discreet or vivid and the grey, in natural light, will bring nice brown reflections. These dials are lively and do change drastically the perception of the usually rather austere Altiplano.
Linked to these colors are historically relevant displays and fonts. Indeed, the 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic for the 60th anniversary are moving back to the elongated and applied gold indexes, to the date placed at 3 and to a 2-hand display, without small second counter. Same, the logo and the “automatic” mention goes back to a cursive and vintage style. This might sound classic but in fact, all of this adds some charm to the Altiplano.
3 versions of this 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic will be available; all with different color, materials and straps, for 3 distinct looks
- Midnight blue, 18k Pink gold case, blue strap – 25,700 Euro
- Pine Green, 18k yellow gold case, green strap – 25,700 Euro
- Slate grey, 18k white gold case, brown strap – 26,800 Euro
Inside the case is a known and superb movement, the ultra-thin calibre 1203, which even if modernized, remains the faithful successor of the iconic 12P movement. This engine, visible through the sapphire caseback, is nicely decorated and technically advanced. It measures 30mm, thus nice filling the case, shows circular Geneva stripes, blued screws, polished bevels and a blackened micro-rotor. With its only 3mm thickness, it allows the 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic to remain under 7mm overall and to be perfectly wearable with a cocktail attire or a suit. All are coming with a pin-buckle in gold (matching the case), much more adapted to the context of a dress watch that a folding buckle.
This new 40mm Piaget Altiplano Automatic collection is not the revolution of the year… yet, it adds something extra, some charm and some boldness to a collection that some could find too rigid. The use of historical references is well balanced, not gimmick-like, and the 3 colors, even if rather bright, are just cool. piaget.com.