Last November, Piaget was proud to receive the recognition of the international watch community for creating the wor- ld’s thinnest mechanical timepiece when the Altipano Ulti- mate Concept scooped the coveted “Aiguille d’Or” at 2020’s prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
The GPHG’s top prize rewarded Piaget’s efforts in overco- ming the numerous difficulties associated with creating a luxury watch measuring just 2mm thick, a feat that repre- sented the culmination of almost 65 years as a leader in the field of ultra-fine movement manufacture.
Piaget’s quest to make the most elegant wrist watches across a range of categories began in 1957 with the famous 9P calibre which, at the time, was among the thinnest hand-wound movements in existence.
It was followed three years later by the record-breaking 12P calibre – then the thinnest self-winding movement in the world – after which Piaget consistently set “thinness” records throughout the next half-century for skeleton, diamond-set ske- leton, date, automatic and manual winding chronograph watches.
In 2018, Piaget stole the show at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) with the prototype of the Altiplano Ul- timate Concept – that, to the surprise of many, became available for a happy few in 2020.
And now the lineage of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is being celebrated in a special version dedicated to the Swiss Jura village of La Côte-aux-Fées, where Georges Edouard Piaget founded his eponymous watch company in 1874 and where the de- sign, development and creation of every ultra-thin Piaget movement from the 9P calibre to that of “the thinnest watch in the world” has been carried out.
The Jura region is celebrated for its unspoilt hills and valleys, astonishing light and the peace and tranquility that, for centuries, has made it the natural cradle of watch making’s many crafts. But perhaps the most striking feature of the region, and of La Côte-aux-Fées in particular, is the overwhelming greenness of its landscape in spring and summer. And it is this lush and verdant ap- pearance that has inspired the look of this new and very special version of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept, tribute to La Côte-aux-Fées has a bridge, screws, hands and a dial in a deep, forest green and com- plemented by a matching strap in alligator leather. The highly polished, cobalt alloy case contrasts beautifully with the richness of the green detailing, evoking the feeling of a typica spring or summer’s day in the hills and fields around the village that has been Piaget’s home for almost 150 years. And, as a reminder of that, the main plate is subtly engraved with the year of the company’s founding, 1874.
Each Altiplano Ultimate Concept creation is entrusted to a single watchmaker in the Côte-aux-Fées due to the unique skills re- quired to work on one of the most technical- ly advanced timepieces of the 21st century.
The movement baseplate is machined direc- tly into an ultra-resistant cobalt alloy case which is so thin that 0.12mm separates the movement from the wearer’s skin.
Other parts have been drastically re-sized, with wheels being reduced from a conven- tional 0.20mm thick to 0.12mm and the sap- phire crystal being pared-down by 80 per cent to just 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 allowing a 45 hours power reserve.
The crown, meanwhile, has been re-in- vented to take the form of a flat, telesco- pic system (with its own, bespoke winding tool) that fits flush with the case band and in which the conventional sliding pinion clut- ch and crown wheel are substituted for a single, “infinite screw”.
The dial’s off-centre position, meanwhile, meant that a conventional, straight winding stem could not be used – a problem Piaget solved by the creation of a patented “stag- gered” stem.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept “Tribute to La Côte-aux-Fées”
is Piaget’s way of combining one of the most innovative watches of today with the ancient landscape in which the Maison was es- tablished. Expect to see more inspiration from La Côte-aux-Fées in the near future!