With a thickness of just 2mm, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch is as thin as two credit cards stacked together, making it the thinnest watch in the world.
Historically, Piaget has always had a solid rep for high jewellery watches, but the brand also has a very strong presence for creating extremely thin movements — think the likes of Piaget’s hand-wound calibre 9P, the automatic calibre 12P, and the record-breaking Calibre 670P ultra-thin flying tourbillon, which to this day, stand as some of the thinnest yet highly functional mechanical movements around.
While we’ve seen the emergence of similarly flat movements over the years, few can rival Piaget when it comes to the delicate yet practical, ultra-thin watchmaking. Today, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch leads the pack as the world’s thinnest watch, and is exceptionally both in technical prowess and aesthetic presence.
The Story: From Drawing Board, to Prototype, to Your Wrist
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch was actually first introduced as a horological experiment. Developed and produced entirely in-house by Piaget’s dedicated Research and Innovation division, the first prototype took four years to build, and another two years of engineering and perfecting the design to create the final model. The brand had previously achieved extremely thin timepieces by creating a three-parts-in-one case, where the case, case-back, and mainplate were all carved from a single block of gold In order to achieve a world-record thickness of just 2mm, Piaget had to take their techniques a step further, creating a case on which the movement baseplate is directly machined.
The Craftsmanship: Creating a New Material
Literally whisper-thin, the desired watch was too thin to make out of gold. This issue was addressed by creating the Altiplano Ultimate Concept case out of a new engineered material — a highly-resistant, cobalt-based alloy that is much stronger than gold, and likewise, much harder to machine. Within the timepiece, other parts were completely re-sized. Wheels were reduced from a typical 0.20mm thickness, to just 0.12mm, while the sapphire crystal has been slimmed down by 80% to a barely believable thinness of just 0.2mm. The mainspring itself also comes with an entirely new design — one without a cover or drum, but mounted atop a single, ceramic ball-bearing within the watch-frame, that allows for the fully-wound movement to run continuously for up to 40 hours.
The Dial: A Revolutionary Design
The resulting dial’s off-centre position meant that a conventional, straight winding stem couldn’t be used. To solve this, Piaget created a patented ‘staggered’ stem, and replaced the typical hour hand with a revolving indicator disc. The resulting watch is so thin that only 0.12mm of cobalt separates the movement from the wrist, and the dial had to be moved beneath the bridge, instead of above it, to provide an additional degree of protection should the watch’s wafer-thin crystal be deformed in an impact.
Of course, don’t let the timepiece’s seemingly fragile appearance fool you — despite it’s delicacy, this is a watch Piaget claims as tough enough to withstand anything from the G-Force in an aerobatic jet, to a meteorite crashing upon earth. With over 167 individual parts, the final design also comes with the option of a special alligator skin strap, and a blue baltimore technical textile strap — all of which are ultra-thin, with velvet calfskin lining and a strong Kevlar, secrued by a slim cobalt pin buckle.
To find out more about the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, visit int.piaget.com.