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Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I can’t help but suspect that a great many disposable fashion brands of this era have, at some point or other, specifically referenced the Piaget Altiplano in hopes of replicating its whisper-thin silhouette, clinical modern minimalism, and all-knowing warmth that comes only from the confidence of one who’s informed entire manuals on mid-century European style. The Altiplano makes modern luxury look easy, but few (if any) of its many copycats manage to fully replicate the feeling of actually wearing an Altiplano. Comparison with anything less is obviously a waste of keystrokes — though I’d imagine it’s like sticking your arm in J. Crew immediately after you’ve spent a day in Tom Ford or Armani, but that’s besides the point. In its more classic trappings — the white dial and white-gold case — the tuxedoed Altiplano can feel a bit too stoic for everyday wear, however. But the new Meteorite dial and ultra-thin rose-gold case, introduced at SIHH 2019, write a whole new chapter for this iconic dress watch.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I’ll make no effort to hide the fact that the Altiplano Meteorite was my favorite watch of SIHH this year. Simply said, I put it on, and I felt feelings. I say that, despite the fact that this particular reference houses one of the show’s more objectively frustrating design choices: a contrasting date aperture punched out of its semi-precious stone dial. Even more baffling is how this particular Altiplano is essentially a time-only reference that accommodates a date, but no running seconds. Now, where exactly in the complication hierarchy does a date take precedence over running seconds? As far as I can tell, Piaget’s only current crop of Altiplano watches with a date are presented with a small seconds subdial. Granted, the more uncommon time/date combination found on the Meteorite reference actually follows the design codes of several older time-only Altiplano references with a date — including the more recent 60th Anniversary pieces —  but at least the latter had the decency to give the date a precious-metal frame.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Now, I’m rarely one to criticize a date — it’s handy enough in a pinch and, when incorporated with intent (and without apology), can actually add to a dial’s character and design language, rather than detract from it. In this case, I’d argue that full omission would have been ideal, giving the meteorite total reign to shine on what’s otherwise a perfect rose-gold stage. But since time-only obviously wasn’t in the cards here, a close second alternative would have been color-matching the date wheel or the application of a rose-gold frame to match the applied baton indices. This would have signaled that designers were fully committing to the addition of a date and weren’t totally asleep at the wheel when it came time to finish the damned thing.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

But anyway, back to my still-favorite watch of the show. We were presented with two meteorite dial options: one in gray, and one in a tonal rose gold to match its case surround. Historically speaking, Piaget’s signature mid-century minimalist dial designs like those found on the Altiplano (or as it was once called, the “Thin-Matic”) have always been the perfect canvas for semi-precious stones — another longstanding brand signature. Stones like malachite, lapis, jade, ruby, and turquoise have all made repeated rounds over the years, as has meteorite, most recently in 2017’s dead-sexy ‘Vintage Inspiration’ art piece, with its cool stepped-edge case.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

One thing I love about meteorite in these contexts is that, in the lexicon of precious stones, it carries a distinctly masculine appeal, due to the semi-matte, fractal appearance, which gets its distinct personality from the dispersion of iron crystals that intersect at chaotic right angles, forming the stone’s unique aesthetic when cross-sectioned. Plus, the stone’s mysterious extraterrestrial origins can’t be ignored, making it perfect for the occasional space-watch tie-in, like 2010’s super-rare Omega Speedmaster Soyuz Apollo Edition, or the more recent Speedmaster Ceramic Grey Side of the Moon.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Like this new Altiplano, the aforementioned Speedmasters — particularly the newer ceramic variant with its marriage of meteorite and Sedna gold — are a perfect example of how a striking masculine aesthetic can be achieved in a high-end product using precious materials, even in what would otherwise be the super-traditional dressy watch trappings of the Ultra-Thin Altiplano. Even better is how Piaget’s rose gold has a warmer, masculine bronze tone (contrary to many more “pink” rose gold hues) that perfectly contrasts the steely fractured texture and shifting iridescence of the meteorite stone. Even with a razor-thin 6.5mm profile and its all-dial 40mm case diameter, the Meteorite Altiplano still gave off a sultry, modern undertone that didn’t quite feel like it needed a monochromatic three-piece suit to be fully enjoyed. In fact, I think this watch begs to be more than just a stuffy black-tie accessory — it could, instead, be the centerpiece worn under more casual pretenses: with a sporty, unstructured blazer, revealed under the rolled-up sleeves of a cashmere sweater, or even paired with a black denim jacket and leather boots for the truly daring.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Plenty’s already been said about Piaget’s incredible prowess in the ultra-thin movement manufacturing realm, so don’t expect any surprises here. The 1230P is an automatic-winding caliber with 44 hours of power reserve, and measures only 3mm-thick, thanks to an off-centered micro-rotor. This particular movement variant has that much-maligned date, but falls in the 1200-series of movements, which were introduced in 2010 as a successor to the legendary 12P ultra-thin movement that more or less dominated the ultra-thin competitive landscape for the better part of the 20th century.

Piaget Altiplano Meteorite Watch Hands-On Hands-On

As the continued (ahem) meteoric rise of sport utility and business-casual in the watch world spells inevitable doom for the dress watch of yesteryear, it’s refreshing to see this stuffy sartorial staple finding new ways to turn heads and make a compelling case for taking casual to the next level — even if it takes precious metals and a price of $24,600. Due to the relative rarity of meteorite, this new Altiplano will be limited to 300 pieces when it lands in Piaget boutiques later this summer. Head over to piaget.com for more information on this, and other novelties from SIHH 2019.

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  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    PBJ is a big Piaget fan, and this one is no exception. Perfect size case crafted in luxurious Rose gold, wide lugs for a substantial strap and the option of a “tonal” meteorite dial. I am not bothered by the date wheel color, but the white does seem to go better with the natural meteorite dial. How about a meteorite date wheel. Has anyone done that yet??

    The movement: THIN IS IN !!

    Thinking about this watch worn with a denim jacket has upset my stomach. I would dress it down with my Versace blue blazer. (always a crowd pleaser)
    Well done Piaget!

  • Independent_George

    Lovely watch ruined by that date window (and I like date windows).

    Also, H&M might more analogous for the Tom Ford/Armani comparison. J. Crew is kinda like the Seiko Presage of fashion.

  • Buy and Sold

    It is ridiculous that this watch does not have a date window frame and a darker/matching color for the date wheel. It is such an obvious detraction, that it is a very bad advert for Piaget. The fact that they have such low level designers working for them surprises me.

  • BNABOD

    Love the back truly hate the front and that date window just cut out from a rock is just no bueno

  • Ayreonaut

    I like the meteorite, let its texture be the star. This should have been 38mm, white gold, and no date. My other pet peeve is flat hands – they look like they’ve been stamped out of foil. They need a bit of shape.

  • Playboy Johnny – Team Mariu$

    PBJ admits the hands could be better.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      Dauphine and applied indices and you have a winner.

  • Swiss_Cheese

    Fantastic article, however, two cardinal sins have been committed – resting the watch on its crown and not taking the plastic off the back. Now, I can forgive the first, it’s a mistake anyone can make, but, not taking the plastic off the case back? Unforgivable…

    • David Bredan

      The case-back view is crystal clear with the plastic on – if it wasn’t, we’d have taken off the plastic. When its so neatly installed and intact, it’s better to leave it on, as some of these leave a nasty, sticky surface when removed. As for resting on the crown: I rest all my watches on the crown all of the time, I am very careful when putting them down not to put any stress on the internal parts of the crown. I’d much rather have a 0.5mm hairline scratch on the curved side of the crown than to have a messed up case band on the opposite side (though it is true that for watches with tang buckles I do lay them flat).

  • Han Cnx

    Seeing we’re referencing early 20 century German minimalist design, this.

    https://www.ablogtowatch.com/lange-sohne-saxonia-thin-watch/

    – No date
    – No seconds
    – Minute hand of sufficient length, exactly meeting the outer edge of the markers, and different enough in length from the hour hand which exactly meets the inner edge of the marker.
    – Extremely subtle substance to the hands and markers
    – Slightly less costly.
    – Does ‘casual’ with the same complete absence of effort.

    Anyone any questions? Thank you. 😉

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d338bb6c4d3366de26171f9f27834c10c8139117910a3f68d9c1d7b5209ff9c0.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8fe618d58ef53d777eb4deca048150725ef575c6aacebaddefe0bb54b78c0295.jpg

  • Han Cnx

    Maybe they use the same designer as Citizen does. Or there’s something wrong with the movement that it doesn’t produce enough torque. Either way it looks wrong. 😉

  • “Hey guys I have an idea, how about we make a meteorite dial?”
    -All the brands.