INTRODUCING: Piaget’s latest Altiplano Ultimate Concept
At Watches and Wonders Shanghai 2023, Piaget releases its ultra-thin marvel in midnight blue.
Fairly often, concept cars unveiled at automotive shows do not end up in the hands of drivers who’ve yearned for them. The concepts are stunning but don’t wind up being made for various reasons. In comparison, watchmaking concepts frequently become serially produced, even if in limited quantities. Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept was launched in 2018, but its production status was ambiguous at the time. In fact, attendees were asked not to handle the 2mm gossamer-thin watch.
In 2020, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept was announced as a customisable series production model. It was the thinnest in the world then and won the prestigious Aiguille d’Or at the 20th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). Since then, new executions have emerged, including a handsome green reference at Watches and Wonders Geneva this April (as well as an automatic model that’s 4.3mm thick). This week sees a new Altiplano Ultimate Concept in Piaget’s signature shade of midnight blue for Watches and Wonders Shanghai.
In getting into the nitty-gritty of this new watch, we must dive into Piaget’s history with ultra-thin watches. This began in 1920 when Piaget was creating pocket watch movements that were groundbreakingly thin. Deeply committed to its identity as a manufacture, Piaget launched the hand-wound 9P movement in 1957, which was exclusively used in its precious metal watches.
Its self-winding successor, the 2.3mm thick Calibre 12P, was unveiled just three years later with its revolutionary micro-rotor integrated within the movement. Secured by a full bridge, the rotor is mounted on top of a winding gear that transfers energy from the rotor’s motion to the barrel spring. As Piaget continued to refine these movements to make them smaller and more efficient, it launched a unique signature for these storied engines. The Altiplano was established in 1998 and always conveys a sense of height, flat and smooth surfaces, and a stripped-down style.
This brings us to the present day and the marvel of micro-engineering, the new Altiplano Ultimate Concept. There are a number of technical features that make a 2mm-thick watch even possible, which Piaget spent many years perfecting. Firstly, the ultra-thin hand-wound 900P-UC movement is directly integrated into the case, which serves as the movement plate.
Next, the hands are also suppressed into the movement, while the sapphire crystal is unbelievably 0.2mm thick. Rigidity and strength are major considerations for a watch so slender, which asked for a more robust material than is usually employed in watchmaking. A high-tech cobalt alloy, which won’t bend nor break even if you sit on it, was chosen. It also allows for a 25% reduction in case thickness compared to a precious metal. This entire ensemble is contained within a 41mm case and paired with an alligator leather strap matching the midnight blue of the dial.
From concept to commissionable and now in regular production, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is a stunning achievement with many surprises as Piaget’s 150th anniversary approaches.
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