Piaget have only gone and done it. With the new Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Piaget have made what might never be beaten as the thinnest mechanical watch ever made at only 2mm thick. Find out more to understand why this production watch is truly one of a kind.
Two years ago at SIHH 2018 Piaget amazed the watch world with the thinnest mechanical watch ever made: the Altiplano Ultimate Concept which was only 2mm thick. However, I don’t think that anybody thought that this extreme expression of the ultra-thin watch with its rectangular crown and seeming incredibly fragile case could ever me a standard production watch. Certainly, the refusal of Piaget to allow the watch to be tried on the wrist confirmed this conclusion.
Today though, two years later, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is ready for sale to customers. Can Piaget really have made a watch this slim genuinely wearable? Read on to find out.
The Piaget Altiplano
First of all, we have to consider the history behind this creation as Piaget, amongst all Swiss brands, is known for its skill in this realm. Since the creation of the 9P calibre in 1957, Piaget has made some of the slimmest movements in the world. However, by comparison to what we are discussing today, the 9P was rather a conventional piece. Despite being only 2mm thick, it had all the same bridges and plates you could expect to see on other movements.
Making the Next Step
To reach the rather spectacularly thin dimensions of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept far more innovation was needed. For this reason, it can be viewed as the product of several years and models within the Piaget range. For instance, the Piaget Altiplano 900P was the first Piaget to integrate the movement into the case-back. By so doing, the movement base of the movement could be removed from the thickness equation. This very innovation, something amusingly first seen in the ancestors of the Swatch in the late 1970s, is at the core of how Piaget have made the 2mm-thick Altiplano Ultimate Concept.
Even so, in order to achieve a thickness only 70% that of a £1 coin a level of care beyond that in the 900P has been employed. Starting from the top of the watch, the crystal is now only 0.2mm thick by comparison to the 1mm thickness on the ‘normal’ Altiplano. In order to protect the crystal, the peaks of the movement itself offer support. Speaking of the movement, Piaget has gone a step further with even the smallest components by reducing the thickness of its wheels to 0.12mm from 0.2mm.
Of course, there are some components which naturally require greater depth but which have been developed truly remarkably. A good example is the spring barrel which, in essence, is no longer a barrel. Fitted with neither a cover nor within a drum, the spring is mounted on a ceramic ball-bearing and thus can still deliver a 40-hour power reserve. This is particularly impressive at a beat rate of 28,800 vph. Speaking of the beat rate, my favourite detail of this watch is the balance wheel on the left of the dial. This is supported only on one side, thus giving a truly unique appearance.
As you will have noticed, the dial is also displaced upwards in order to create a lesser thickness which required what Piaget call a ‘staggered stem’. The result is an hour hand which is mounted on a rotating disc.
Externally, the 41mm case is beyond eye-catching due to the aforementioned thickness or lack thereof yet this draws the eye away from the curious material selected. One major concern for the original prototype in 2018 was bending but this appears to be remedied by the use of a case made from a cobalt alloy 2.3 times stronger than gold.
A feature which (surprisingly) has been carried over from the 2018 prototype of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is the crown. Rectangular in shape and embedded into the side of the case, this crown requires a special tool to wind and set the watch.
Now Available to Purchase
Of course, a defining feature of the 2018 model was that it couldn’t be worn let alone purchased. However, this version of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is now available to buy and in three variants. The most classical and my favourite is the version with a polished case and silver movement. The sunburst blue dial adds a ‘pop’ of colour too. The more unusual is the variant with a polished case and blue and black details on the face whilst an all-black variant gives a stealthier look.
What remains to be seen, though, is how these watches stand the test of time with a seemingly perilously-delicate construction. What do you think of the thinnest mechanical watch ever made?
- Dimensions: 41mm x 2mm
- Material: Proprietary Cobalt Alloy
- Crystal: 0.2mm Thick Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Hours and minutes / Time displayed on a dial at 12 o’clock / Hours shown on a rotating disc /
- Movement: Piaget 900P-UC: Time / 13 jewels / 40-hour power reserve / 28,800vph, 4Hz, 8 ticks-per-second / Built out of the Cobalt-Alloy monobloc case