Piaget Altiplano – The Legacy of Ultra-Thin Watches

Last Updated: September 20, 2023

Piaget has effortlessly mastered the delicate craft of ultra-slim watchmaking since its inception. This innate artistry has birthed a new Altiplano Ultimate Concept in a deep midnight blue hue.

Piaget passionately sustains the tradition of ultra-thin watch craftsmanship. It isn’t just a niche; it’s an ethos, a cultivated identity, originating from watch mechanisms and evolving throughout Piaget’s creations over nearly a century and a half. For the Watches & Wonders in Shanghai 2023, the brand, known for setting the gold standard in thin watch design, unveils an intriguingly slim 2mm mechanical watch: the Altiplano Ultimate Concept.

Dressed in an alluring deep blue, the latest Altiplano Ultimate Concept exemplifies a more minimalist design, paying homage to the iconic colour of the Maison. This iteration marks a milestone for Piaget, given that prior Altiplano Ultimate Concept timepieces with hours and minutes were only made for exclusive clientele.

During the Watches & Wonders gathering in Geneva 2023, Piaget showcased a radiant emerald-green variant of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept. Alongside it was the blue Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P encased in rose gold, standing at a mere 4.30 mm in thickness. Both models underscored Piaget’s enduring commitment to ultra-thin watch design, intertwined with another cherished tradition: colour experimentation.

Origins of Ultra-thin Watches

Before Piaget emerged as a renowned Maison, it crafted intricate components for some of the most prestigious Swiss watchmakers. Established in 1874 by Georges-Édouard Piaget, the firm concentrated on producing lever escapements, a vital part of watch regulation. By the 1920s, the brand’s meticulous precision birthed another expertise: devising ultra-slim pocket watch movements, some only 2.4 mm thick.

This innovation was no accident. With foresight unmatched by peers, the Piaget family unified all aspects of watchmaking. Their vision was an encyclopedic mastery over the niche of ultra-slim timepieces. This holistic approach culminated in establishing the Manufacture in the family’s hometown, La Côte-aux-Fées.

Remaining true to its roots as a pioneering manufacturer, Piaget debuted the ultra-slim hand-wound 9P movement in 1957, with the number 9 representing its compact diameter and the P standing for Piaget’s commitment. This movement was distinctive for its innovation and because Piaget reserved it for watches crafted from precious metals. Following suit, the automatic Calibre 12P was introduced, groundbreaking at only 2.3 mm thick, with an in-built micro-rotor.

All Piaget watches, since its inception, bear a distinctive style—minimalist lines, elegant dials, and a design that highlights technical mastery while keeping aesthetics paramount. This dedication to precision, a hallmark of the Piaget ethos, results in the enchanting interplay of materials and finishes.

The family’s guiding principle, “Always do better than necessary,” is imprinted on every watch case, a testament to their unwavering commitment. Despite consistently producing incredibly slim timepieces, each piece encapsulates the rigorous art of watchmaking.
Creating the Calibre 9P was a testament to genius and tenacity. In the 1950s, most production tasks were manual or executed using rudimentary machines. Each part was scrutinized and frequently adjusted. A consistent 2 mm thickness was an ongoing challenge and a testament to their skill. Although Calibre 12P succeeded the 9P by 1960, it wasn’t until the 1970s that similar slimness was achieved.

In 1998, Piaget coined “Altiplano” for its ultra-slim collection, a name that had been missing since the 1960s. “Altiplano” evokes imagery of high elevations, vast plains, and an essence of minimalism, capturing the nature of their svelte watches. Piaget remains relentless in this domain, continuously pushing what’s considered achievable.

Remarkably, despite being only 2 mm thick, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is water-resistant up to 20 meters and features a conventional crown. Perfecting this model demanded seven years for the initial prototype, and an additional two years were spent ensuring it met Piaget’s stringent standards. Its casing is fashioned from a special cobalt alloy, granting it a thickness 25% less than those made of precious metals.

Learn more about the Piaget Altiplano here.