At the novelty’s presentation during SIHH in 2018, Piaget with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept revealed the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. Measuring only a height of 2 mm thanks to a case that formed part of the movement, a unique, integrated winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal and a new construction for the barrel and energy regulation. But it was just an experiment and not produced commercially.
In the event of Watches & Wonders 2020, Piaget announce that the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is no longer just an ambitious experiment in pushing the boundaries of horological micro-engineering, but a fully developed, tried and tested watch that is now available for watch lovers and collectors to buy, own and use. The Altiplano Ultimate Concept was developed and produced entirely in-house by Piaget’s Research and Innovation division. The team worked solely on the prototype for four years.
Master of thin watches
Piaget, the master of thin watches since 1957, had already used the fusion concept in its 900P in 2014 (3.65mm) and 910P in 2018 (4,3 mm) – the world’s thinnest mechanical watch at that time. With such specific engineering, the traditional movement mainplate disappeared, the case back being used both as part of the case and the movement mainplate, directly carved from one single block of gold. In 2018, Piaget pushed the concept even further by launching the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic which, at just 4.3mm thick, became the world’s thinnest gold watch.
Too thin to use gold, the new Altiplano Ultimate Concept case had to be made from a new, cobalt-based alloy that is highly resistant, 2.3 times stronger than gold and, therefore, much more difficult to machine.
Other parts were entirely re-engineered and re-sized, with wheels, for example, being reduced from a conventional 0.20mm thick to 0.12mm and the sapphire crystal, normally 1mm thick in a standard watch, being pared-down by 80 per cent to a scarcely believable 0.2mm.
The mainspring barrel is also of an entirely new design that has no cover or drum but is mounted on a single, ceramic ball-bearing within the frame of the watch and enables the fully-wound movement to run for up to 40 hours.
The crown, meanwhile, has been re-invented to take the form of a flat, telescopic system (with its own, specially-designed winding tool) that fits flush with the case band and in which the conventional sliding pinion clutch and crown wheel are substituted for a single, ‘infinite screw’.
The dial’s off-centre position meant that a conventional, straight winding stem could not be used – a problem Piaget solved by creating a patented ‘staggered’ stem. In order for the system to function perfectly, the conventional hour hand is replaced with a revolving indicator disc while the minute hand works in the usual way.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept is so thin, that a mere 0.12 mm of cobalt separates the movement from the wearer’s skin. The degree of thinness of this watch also means that even the method of indicating the time had to be re-thought.
Instead of having a dial and two hands placed on top of a bridge, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept features a dial that lies beneath it, thus providing protection from any contact with the strong but wafer-thin crystal should it be momentarily deformed in an impact.
Although the Altiplano Ultimate Concept measures a mere 2mm thick, it contains 283 individual parts. Piaget has five patents on this timepiece.
More than 10,000 different executions
Altiplano Ultimate Concept buyers may specify the colour of the bridge and dial, the finish of the hands and the main plate and select straps that match or contrast – a range of options that will allow the Altiplano Ultimate Concept to be created in more than 10,000 executions, thus ensuring that few will be alike and most will be truly unique.
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept has now been introduced in three (black ref. G0A45500, blue ref. G0A45502, silver ref. G0A45501) executions and worn on a special alligator skin strap or a blue baltimor technical textile strap. They are all ultra-thin, featuring a velvet calfskin lining and an ultra-strong Kevlar – secured by an ultra-thin cobalt pin buckle. Price: 417,000 euros.
|MODEL:||Altiplano Ultimate Concept|
|REFERENCE:||G0A45500 (Black), G0A45501 (Silver), G0A45502 (Blue)|
|CASE MATERIAL:||Cobalt-based high-tech alloy|
|DIMENSIONS:||Diameter: 41.0 mm|
Height: 2.0 mm
|WATER RESISTANCE:||2 bar (~ 20 m)|
|STRAP/BRACELET:||Black Alligator leather strap, blue Baltimora technical textile strap|
|FREQUENCY:||28,800 vph / 4 Hz|
|FUNCTIONS:||Hours, Minute offset at 12 o’clock|