Video: Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, The Continued Quest For Extreme Ultra-Thin
In traditional watchmaking, achieving a mechanical wristwatch with a total thickness of just 2mm was thought to be a totally unachievable goal. The common wisdom was that components could simply not be reduced enough without sacrificing the accuracy and daily wearability of the watch.
In 2014, Piaget set out to develop a super-thin watch with a maximum overall thickness of only 2mm. Very quickly, technicians and watchmakers understood that to reach this goal, they would have to totally rethink all of the traditional methods of producing a mechanical watch.
The Beginnings of Ultra-Thin
Piaget’s tradition of manufacturing ultra-thin watches started in 1957 with the legendary caliber 9P movement, which itself was only 2mm high.
A historic achievement, this was just the beginning. Simultaneously, the brand launched its first iconic ultra-thin watch. With its svelte design and minimalistic shape, Piaget’s ultra-thin caliber quickly became a key reference in watchmaking.
In tribute to the 9P caliber, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept continues to push the boundaries of what is considered possible by fusing the even slimmer 900P-UC caliber to the case, meaning the watch is the movement. It is the latest development in Piaget’s six-decades-plus quest to achieve an ultra-thin watch.
At the 2018 SIHH expo in Geneva, Piaget revealed the first prototype of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, which immediately received resoundingly positive feedback by both watch collectors and experts. To further develop this concept, the Piaget team was then tasked to finalize the development of the watch and its manufacturing process so that it could graduate from the prototype stage to an accurate and reliable daily wristwatch.
From Dream To Reality
In 2020, following two years of additional development from an ambitious prototype to the final product, Piaget was finally able to deliver its first Altiplano Ultimate Concept to the market.
At Watchonista, we had the extreme privilege of being able to follow Jean-Daniel Hofmann, the prototype watchmaker at Piaget, through each meticulous step, from production to final assembly, of this amazing watch. Together with Jérôme Nicolet, Head of Movement Development, and Quentin Hébert, Head of Watch Marketing, Hofmann took the time to explain to us the challenges and industrial innovations necessary to create the Altiplano Ultimate Concept in an exclusive video taken at the Piaget movement manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées.
From the fusion of the movement to the case, to the development of an infinite screw to set the watch, from the 0.2mm glass to the innovative barrel, this video will help you understand how complex the challenge was and how difficult it was to accomplish this vision.
With five patents and a total reinvention of traditional watchmaking, including a new testing process, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is the pinnacle of extreme watchmaking. At each stage, this exclusive watch will be totally unique to each individual owner under Piaget’s “Infinitely Personal” concept, which allows more than 195,000 personalized permutations. Now, exclusivity and individuality in watchmaking have a name: The Altiplano Ultimate Concept.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)