The Piaget Altiplano 900P – A slice of history
Watch & Bullion9 June 2016 | 2 min read
Ultra thin watches have always held a special place in the hearts of watch collectors, but they feature even more prominently in the hearts of watchmakers. Once you’ve made your first watch, your goal is to make an even better watch, and thinness is one path many watchmakers take to master their craft.
This is not only due to the challenge it presents for the watchmaker, but also because of what it offers for the wearer. Plainly put, a thinner watch is a watch more wearable in every aspect. Neither shall we forget how striving for wearability has provided us with an array of innovations which revolutionized watchmaking. After all, the wristwatch in itself is only a more wearable adaptation of the pocket watch, which itself was developd from the clock.
And once you take all that into account, that is when you can really start to appreciate the Piaget Altiplano 900P for what it represents for watchmakers. A true innovation which inspires us to think of what more we can achieve.
Coming in at 3.65 mm thick, this watch set the record for the thinnest mechanical watch in the world when it was released at Baselworld in 2014. This was achieved by fusing the caseback and the movement in a previously unheard of method. What Piaget did was build the movement on the caseback of the watch rather than “waste” the space on a separate main plate.
However, just making a watch thinner is not enough, because what is gained in wearability is lost in durability. This further explains the challenge of creating an ultra thin watch. If you want to do it, you, you have to do it right.
This is were Piaget continues to impress, as their watch is packed with features that help toughen it up. For example, to prevent pressure on the crystal impacting and hurting the hands, these weak points have been recessed into the watch leaving the movement (or caseback) to provide the necessary support.
Another feature can be found when looking at the mainspring barrel. Normally these are secured between two jeweled pivots. Instead, Piaget used what they call a “hanging barrel” which means that the barrel is suspended from a single bearing at one end below the click wheel.
In the name of thinness Piaget has created a true piece of art. A minimalistic gear train decorates the dial in such a puristic manner. This design decision we find is also echoed in the colour choices. The black provides for a nice contrast highlighting the brushed gears and wine coloured jewels.
Only two years old, the Piaget Altiplano 900P is a record breaking piece packed with innovation, and has deservedly reserved a space in the history books.