Many people dream of really thin mechanical watches. I’ve even had people tell me how awesome it would be to have this ultra wafer-thin watches. For me the idea wasn’t super appealing in theory, and then I finally got to experience some ultra thin mechanical watches and the desire turned on like a light a switch. Most thin mechanical watches are manually wound, which sort of defeats the point for me – as what I really want are automatic watches.
Piaget has always been a “thin is in brand” stressing broad watch cases that barely lift of your wrists. They have been doing this for decades, especially appealing since they are a “real” watch maker that creates their own movements. So here I am at SIHH 2010 in Switzerland (when writing this article) checking out the new Piaget Altiplano Automatic Ultra-Thin watch that I’ve know about for a while and I am really moved by it. One of the best parts of the ludicrously thin 5.25mm watch is that it has a sapphire exhibition caseback with a view into the new Piaget caliber 1208p hand-done movement. It is an homage to the 50 year old classic Piaget 12p movement that was a previous ultra thin movement by the brand. The finishing and decoration of the watch is outstanding. You can see the circular style polish strips, blued steel screws, and gold micro-rotor. Because the watch is wider at 43mm, the movement looks sized like a flat Waterman cracker. You see this attractive minimalist dial with a subsidiary seconds hand, and then pure watch making glory on the backside. It just all feels almost impossible.
As luxury watches go, these fit an interesting and important niche. Classy, formal, and dressy are all terms you could use to describe where a watch like this fits from a genre perspective. Still, Piaget sort of has its own niche. While their designs are fashion forward to the extreme. When it comes down to it they are split between watch engineers curious about pushing the technical envelope and creative types that continue with passion to make watches that move you. Like the anti-Breguet, Piaget has worked hard to make minimalist modern style a classic look. While from a terminology standpoint this is a paradox, I think you get the point.
I’ve heard from at least one other watch brand that they have almost bested Piaget in terms of size. They might have meant the 5.25mm thickness of the watch or the seemingly impossible 2.35mm thickness of the movement itself. Frankly, I could care less whether Piaget actually makes the thinnest this, or smallest that. It is the end result before my eyes that is what really matters. I personally don’t buy or get excited about things merely because of a achievements on paper. It is the emotional reaction that I have when I see and wear them that matters. All the rest just make good talking points when bragging to friends – an activity far less common that enjoying the watch personally. Price is about $19,000. You can read a bit more as I also wrote about this watch on AskMen.com.
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