Note: Our time with this watch was limited, and we were not allowed to remove the film on the dial; the photos reflect this.
It can be a bit confusing at this point to know the differences between the various ultra-thin Piaget watches. Prior to Bulgari getting into the ultra-thin wristwatch game, Piaget was the undeniable winner in the thin mechanical movement department, leveraging its heritage going back to the 1960s when Piaget (and others) focused on making mechanical movements as thin as possible. By the 1970s, mechanical movement thinness was a moot point given the introduction of quartz-based movements, which could be even thinner. Ultra-thin as an area of development in the mechanical wristwatch industry was mostly dormant for nearly 30 years. Then Piaget got back into the ultra-thin game with its Altiplano collection. Eventually, Bulgari started to compete in this same arena and applied a lot more marketing communication around its movements and the development of ultra-thin. Piaget lost out both in terms of getting accolades for many technical achievements, as well as getting the consumer attention they probably deserved for their very thin timepieces. Now, in 2023, as ultra-thin mechanical timepieces are more widely in vogue, it is probably time to revisit some of Piaget’s offerings including this very “daily wearable” Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic.
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic was originally released in 2017 (on aBlogtoWatch here). While the Altiplano collection existed and included automatics, this specific watch was meant to combine the latest generation of “Ultimate” thin Piaget watches (where the case itself is the mainplate for the movement) with an automatic winding mechanism. The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic contains Piaget’s in-house developed and made caliber 910P movement, which, again, is actually part of the case. This reviewed model is, however, new for 2023: the reference G0A48125 that combines an 18k rose gold case with a deep blue-toned dial. A similar version of this watch was also released a year earlier in 2022 (the reference G0A47124) but with a row of brilliant-cut diamonds set in the bezel. The G0A48125 removes the diamonds for a slightly less dress look and is able to reduce the retail price by $8,500 USD, which does feel like a lot for 0.59 carats of diamonds. Note that this watch is a retail model and still has some plastic protection on the case, which will be visible in the photographs.
I think it is also important to contrast this Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic with another Piaget timepiece: the Altiplano Ultimate Concept. Originally introduced in 2018 (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here), the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is about half the thickness (with a case that is 2mm-thick) as this Altiplano Ultimate Automatic and happens to cost more than $400,000 USD. aBlogtoWatch has written about the Altiplano Ultimate Concept a few times given that the record-setting watch (when it was released) was so noteworthy. That said, it and other extremely thin timepieces are more akin to mechanical wonders than practical daily-wear objects. Thus, for the money, the convenience of automatic winding, and overall daily wearing comfort, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic is the clear way to go for most consumers, in my opinion.
At 4.3mm-thick (in a 41mm-wide case) the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic isn’t exactly a thick watch by any standards. In my estimation, anything around (or under) five or six millimeters-thick will wear very thin on the wrist. Once a timepiece gets too wafer-thin, then I think it is reasonable to be very worried about it getting damaged. This also leads to a brief discussion of how ultra-thin as a concept is one of the “hidden” grand complications. While ultra-thin watches don’t add functionality, the process of designing and assembling very thin movements is worlds different from thicker movements with more “breathing room” in the area where the movement parts can exist. Even once all the proper components are designed and tested, assembling an ultra-thin movement is anything but routine. It takes a lot of special skills and the correct order of assembly to make sure the finished movement even works. Much of this is due to the extremely small tolerances and space that moving parts have to operate.
In order to give the caliber 910P automatic winding functionality, Piaget decided to go with a peripheral automatic rotor that elegantly moves around the periphery of the case. This part of the movement can be extremely difficult to see with your eyes if you aren’t looking for it actually. Piaget places a small “910P” label on the rotor and applies a sort of oblong curve graphic on it in order for your eyes to more readily notice this part of the mechanism.
The caliber 910P automatic movement is comprised of 219 components – many of which can be observed through the dial of the watch. The movement operates at 3Hz with 48 hours of power reserve. The automatic rotor is made from 22k gold and most of the movement bridges and plates are given a deep blue PVD coating treatment for the attractive color. The movement only displays the time with hours and minutes, with an off-centered dial taking up approximately two-thirds of the watch face’s real estate (meaning that legibility isn’t too bad – all things considered).
The 41mm-wide 18k rose gold case is particularly nice to look at given the small details which are related to it both being a watch case and a plate for the movement parts. There are small screws on the case which hold the various parts together, and everything must be accessed by removing the top of the case which is mostly the bezel and sapphire crystal. (I would not want to be the one servicing this watch.) Water resistance is a claimed 20 meters, which probably means you want to take this watch off if you are going to submerge your wrist in any water. Attached to the case is a matching deep-blue alligator strap.
As a daily-wear dress watch the Piaget Altiplano has always been a handsome and provocative choice. The Altiplano Ultimate Automatic version combines practicality with a lot of mechanical intrigue and the enjoyment of a very thin wearing experience. While Piaget is focusing on a more accessible price point with this watch, as it removes the diamonds (for this style), the Swiss brand is still asking for a bit of a premium over Bulgari watches, but less than some of the ultra-thin offerings by brands Piaget normally sees itself as competing with. The reality is that there is a growing list of ultra-thin watches out there, and those who want one need to carefully mix considering style, price, and, of course, practicality. Price for the reference G0A48125 Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic watch is $35,300 USD. Learn more at the Piaget website here.