The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch: The Thinnest Mechanical Watch in the World


January 17, 2018 Watches By
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This week, the Palexpo facility in Geneva, Switzerland, will become the center of the watch world for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a luxury watch show rivaled only by BaselWorld in relevance and prestige. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you the most exciting releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check out Instagram. We’ll be posting to our feed throughout the week.

Upshot: Piaget’s whole “thing” is crazy thin watches — hell, the first Altiplano in 1957 utilized a movement that was 2mm thick. Now, Piaget has debuted the manual-winding Altiplano Ultimate Concept that is otherworldly in comparison. At just 2mm thick, case included, it’s the thinnest mechanical watch in the world by quite the margin, beating the previous record holder (the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Squelette) by 1.6mm.

Who It’s For: Theoretically, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is for people who love impossibly-thin watches. Realistically? Nobody. Like Audemars Piguet’s super-thin perpetual calendar, this is just a concept for now.

First Impressions: A watch as astoundingly thin as the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is mind-bending to see in person, and, with all the mechanical components moved to the front, the mechanisms that make the watch run are on full display. To make a 2mm-thick watch, Piaget had to entirely re-think the way a movement is arranged.

Normally, a watch is comprised of a movement that’s placed inside the case but in this timepiece, the case actually acts as the movement’s main plate, with components built on top of it. Parts like the balance wheel are mounted to ball bearings eliminating the need for bridges and lowering the jewel count, while the power reserve barrel doesn’t feature a cover and sits into a recessed area of the case. There is no conventional winding mechanism, either — a key has to be used to repower the watch once it’s 44-hour power reserve has been run out. To keep the watch from bending, the case had to be made from a resilient, cobalt-based alloy.

Insight: The Ultimate Concept won’t make it into production which might be a good thing — it’s so thin it’s hard to imagine it standing up to regular wear. But Piaget states that the technologies and innovations from the watch will make its way into future watches. Some have already made their way into the Ultimate Automatic 910P (the world’s thinnest automatic watch), which you will be able to buy this year. If you do want one of these absurd ultra-thins, know that when you’re wearing the Automatic it’s so thin it practically disappears into your wrist, making it a mighty fine substitute for the concept watch.

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