Ahead of SIHH 2014, Piaget, the leader of ultra-thin wristwatches, has done it again. With the creation of the Altiplano 900P 38mm, they have broken the record for the world’s thinnest watch. Paying homage to the brand’s historic ultra-thin 9P caliber, the 900P is in many ways as important today, as the 9P was back in 1957.
Unlike virtually all other ultra-thin timepieces, the key to the record-breaking thinness (3.65 mm) is not what you might expect. It is not the result of paring an ultra-thin caliber with an ultra-thin case. Instead, it was achieved by combining the case and the movement. Quite simply, the caseback acts as the mainplate (as you can see in the diagram below).
As of right now, Piaget has only officially revealed that it will be available in a 38 mm diameter 18K fully polished white gold case, with the darkened movement (as pictured). However, by SIHH (which starts January 20th, 2014) they told us they will reveal another model with a shinier, silver-colored movement. Additionally, we expect them to release more case materials, such as rose gold, or even titanium, however — we were not able to confirm this.
In order to make a watch so incredibly thin, the Piaget case design team (in Plan-les-Ouates, just outside Geneva) and movement design team in (La Côte-aux-Fées, in the mountain region of Neuchâtel) had to work together closer than they ever have before. After all, the movement and the case are one. The result is a watch so amazingly thin, that it makes you wonder if a mechanical watch will ever be any thinner than this. Even with today’s technology, it seems impossible. Already, some of the wheels are a mere .12 mm thick (as a reference a human hair is approximately .08 mm thick).
The movement runs at 3Hz, with 20 jewels and a power reserve of 48-hours. Between the case and the movement, there are 145 total components. As you would expect from a Piaget level movement, the components are all finished to a very high degree. From black colored satin-brushed sunburst bridges, sunburst or circular brushed wheels, beveled bridges, to black colored screws and a circular satin-brushed caseback — everything is immaculately finished. The dial is openworked so many of the components are visible right on the dial. The balance wheel, which is located between 7 and 8 o’clock, can be viewed as it oscillates to and fro. It is flanked by multiple visible wheels, screws, and jewels.
This is the first of what will likely be an entire collection of revolutionary ultra-thin models, so the Piaget designed it with only basic functions: hours and minutes. Adding complications can be done later, and besides, most industry experts consider a watch of this thinness, a complication in itself.
The 900P is presented on a black alligator leather strap with matching 18K white gold pin buckle. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra-Fine 1955still holds the crown for the world’ thinnest movement, at 1.64 mm. But at a total thickness of 4.10 mm, it is no longer the thinnest mechanical watch, the title now goes to the 900P. Price is not set yet, but it is expected to be around $25,000.