The New Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic in White Gold with Blue Accents
And the magic behind Piaget’s revolutionary ultra-thin automatic movement construction explained.
Even though it was unveiled without much fanfare, Piaget introduced a new 18k white gold version of its Altiplano Ultimate Automatic watch with handsome blue accents during Watches & Wonders 2021. When it was first released in 2018, the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic was the world’s thinnest automatic watch with an overall height of 4.30mm, thinner than Bvlgari’s 2017 Octo Finissimo (5.15mm). However, Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic (3.95mm) broke the record-breaking thinness of the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic a couple of months after its debut. Nevertheless, and not diminishing its mechanical prowess, the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic is now the second thinnest automatic watch on the market and boasts very advanced mechanical solutions. With over sixty years of lean machines under its belt, Piaget’s approach to movement construction is unprecedented.
In the ongoing battle of ultra-thin watches, two names tower above all others: Piaget and Bvlgari. Piaget has the distinction of being the forerunner in the field of ultra-slim movements with the inauguration of its 2mm manual-winding 9P calibre in 1957 followed by the automatic 12P calibre with a height of just 2.3mm presented during the Basel Fair of 1960. Hailed by the Journal de Genève as “an event destined to be a milestone in the history of watchmaking,” the impressive degree of slimness of the 12P was made possible by the incorporation of a gold micro-rotor. Piaget’s mastery of ultra-thin movements allowed designers to create some of the most extravagant women’s watches with vivid colours and hard stone dials, capturing the zeitgeist of the late 1960s and 1970s. For men, Piaget’s slender movements became the epitome of the sophisticated, minimalist dress watch.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Piaget introduced the 38mm manual-winding Altiplano calibre 900P in 2016 with an ingenious construction that integrated the calibre into the case of the watch. The revolutionary architecture of the 900P transformed the caseback into the mainplate of the movement with wheels, gears, barrel, escapement, regulating organ mounted directly on the caseback with bridges to hold the moving parts in place.
The Calibre 910P
In 2018, Piaget unveiled the extremely elegant and very thin Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P as an automatic evolution of the 900P. With an overall height of 4.30mm, it was then the world’s thinnest automatic watch, even surpassing the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic with its height of 5.15mm. Piaget’s victory was short-lived and, after five months, was trumped by Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic of 2018. But there’s more to the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic than just numbers…
The construction of the 41mm Altiplano Ultimate Automatic calibre 910P is truly revolutionary and worth exploring in detail. Like the earlier manual-winding 900P movement, there is no distinction between the movement and the exterior elements. Three years in development, Piaget’s watchmakers, developers, engineers, designers and case makers worked together to produce the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic. The solution was to design an inseparable unit with the movement and case comprising a single entity. The complex architecture inverts the traditional construction and fits the bridges on the dial side, while the caseback is the mainplate to which the 219 parts are affixed. As such, this construction removes at least one layer of the traditional architecture of a watch and thus maximizes its thinness.
Given the Lilliputian space available, a 22k gold peripheral rotor – with blue CVD and grey PVD coating on the present edition – was incorporated. The blue-coloured rotor spins on the periphery of the movement and benefits from its gold base to provide weight, inertia and robustness. The off-centred hours and minutes disc picked out in Piaget blue on this 2021 model allows an expansive view of the openworked dial. Working in these diminutive confines, the barrel is suspended by a single bridge o the dial side and can store up to 50 hours of power reserve.
Another ingenious solution offered by placing the bridges (some of them just .12mm thick) on the dial side means that the raised bridges prevent the watch from stopping if pressure is exerted on the sapphire crystal protecting the dial. The hour and minute hands are fitted below the bridges so that if the crystal is accidentally pressed, the raised bridges prevent the crystal from touching and stopping the hands, a patented design that extends to several of Piaget’s ultra-thin movements.
With so many components on view, Piaget has also taken great pride in the finishings of the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic calibre 910P. The mainplate is satin-brushed and sandblasted, the bridges are chamfered, and the wheels display sunburst or circular satin finishes. The automatic movement remains identical, though, and beats at 21,600vph, has 238 components, 30 jewels and a power reserve of 50 hours.
An elegant blue Altiplano Ultimate Automatic
When it was released in 2018, the Altiplano Ultimate 910P was available in pink gold and white gold with a black PVD-coated peripheral oscillating weight and matching black dial for the hours and minutes. The 2021 version is also crafted in 18k white gold but has a blue PVD-coated peripheral rotor and a blue disc for the hours and minutes. The watch is worn on a thin and equally elegant blue alligator leather strap and a white gold ardillon buckle to match the style found on the dial.
Availability & price
This blue edition of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P, reference G0A45123, is now available from Piaget’s online boutique and from retailers. The retail price is EUR 31,200, CHF 30,300 or USD 31,000. For more details, please visit piaget.com.