January 27, 2016
by Ariel Adams
In 2013 Piaget released the 3.65mm thick Altiplano 900P making it the world’s thinnest manually-wound watch ever. It is so thin that the backplate of the movement is also the caseback. I don’t really think anyone will be able to appreciably decrease this minuscule size anytime soon. So what did Piaget do for 2016? Jewelry watch lovers, feast your eyes on the Piaget Altiplano 900D – the thinnest manually-wound mechanical watch with a case and dial covered in diamonds. Ultra-thin “haute joaillerie” has never looked better as the Altiplano 900P is transformed with 304 diamonds into the impressive Altiplano 900D.
The good news is that the watch is still very thin, and for the most part, has the same look and feel as the 900P (hands-on here). The bad news is that, of course, some extra thickness is necessary, but it really isn’t much. Even at the new “thicker” size of 5.65mm thick the 900D is still thinner that most of the competition. Really, the only difference visually is that now the case doesn’t look thinner than the strap, and it also doesn’t look like a coin with attached straps.
One of the coolest things about the 900D, is just how many diamonds and how many places Piaget found to put diamonds. If you are the type of person who tends to be in the market for high-jewelry watches, then the Altiplano 900D is going to be hard to resist. The 18k white-gold case is given an extra bezel structure which is set with baguette-cut diamonds, while the rest of the case sides and lugs are set with round-cut diamonds. For the size, it is really a brilliant exercise in gem-setting.
Of course, it would not be a 900D (“D” for diamonds!) if the dial were not also set with diamonds. The trick here, is that the dial is also mostly the movement with a section for the off-centered dial for the time. Dial or movement, all of it is set with either baguette or round-cut diamonds. Even the screws are set with diamonds, and even if you aren’t a precious stone lover you have to appreciate the clever effort that went into transforming the thinnest mechanical watch in the world into the thinnest high-jewelry manually-wound mechanical watch.
The Piaget Altiplano 900D watch doesn’t have a separate designation for the movement, because if you’ll recall, watch and movement are quite literally merged. The movement is built on the caseback as the backplate and together they are comprised of 145 parts. The movement operates at 3Hz (21,600 bph) and has a power reserve of 48 hours indicating just the time with hours and minutes. On the dial, you can view the oscillating balance wheel as well as the gear train and much of the mainspring barrel.
At 38mm wide, the Altiplano 900D wears well as a dress watch. The black hands are remarkably legible, especially because the dial for the time is highlighted with the ring of baguette-cut diamonds. I would have loved a bit more demarcation for the hour markers, but for a watch like this, why complain about something like that? In total, the 900D case and dial contain 5.77 carats of diamond stones.
The extra 2mm of thickness compared to the 900P without diamonds is a small sacrifice to make in exchange for this fascinating jewelry watch creation. It would not have been reasonable to expect this type of gem setting with much less extra space, and, in person, the watch doesn’t really feel that much thicker even though it is a thicker watch that is a super slim counter-part. Attached to the Piaget reference G0A41122 Altiplano 900D is a black alligator strap and the price for this non-limited edition model is $165,000. piaget.com