Piaget is the king of ultra-thin watches, holding more than a dozen records in various categories. This expertise goes all the way back to 1957 with the invention of the Calibre 9P, the first Piaget ultra-thin movement and what today is a real classic. To celebrate the mark’s 140th anniversary, the Piaget has gone for the biggest record of all and released the Replica Piaget Altiplano 900P, the world’s thinnest mechanical watch. It has taken some serious technological breakthroughs to get to a staggering 3.65mm thin and the result is a surprisingly wearable watch. Here we have an exclusive first look at this amazing watch, complete with live photos and pricing.
While Piaget holds many of the ultra-thin records, the overall thinnest mechanical watch title was previously held by Jaeger-LeCoultre for the Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee, which comes in at 4.05mm. But now, thinner by a full .4mm, the Altiplano 900P has climbed on top. Normally here we’d start talking about the thin movement and how it fits into the case, but we can’t here. The case and the movement are one unit with the Piaget Altiplano 900P.
What we mean here exactly is that there is no distinct movement that can be removed from a case. Instead, in order to maximize economy of space, Piaget took a different approach and built one self-contained unit. The “caseback” is actually the baseplate for the movement components as well. This means that there is one layer less on the back of the watch, shaving off crucial millimeters. Additionally, the dial here is a smaller, off-center unit that is set into the bridges, again cutting down on the thickness that results from laying a dial on top of a movement.
The real limiting factors with the Piaget Altiplano 900P replica watches are a) the thickness of the balance wheel and b) how thin a wheel can be made without risking distortion or breakage. One of the things Piaget is touting about the 900P is that it is made with traditional materials instead of space-age composites. The thinnest wheel in the 900P is the third wheel of the main gear train, which comes in at only .12mm thin. There are 145 components in all, and every one fits within the thickness of the balance wheel.
One of the greatest challenges here was ensuring that the crystal could sit as low as possible without pressing on the hands when subjected to pressure. A new patent-pending mechanism was invented to fit the hands below the main bridges (when they would normally be fit above) so that the crystal will push on the bridges instead of the hands. For now, no more details on this are being released, as you might expect, but it’s one of those small things that could represent a big change in ultra-thin movements long-term.
While it’s obviously impressive technically, this watch also ticks all the aesthetic boxes as well. The main gear train and balance wheel are laid out horizontally in the bridges, so most of the mechanism is visible right up front. The “dial” is offset around 10 o’clock, just like the running seconds on all manually-wound Altiplanos, secured with two visible screws and decorated with brushed finishes. All the bridges and wheels are beautifully finished, as you would expect from Piaget. Brushing, chamfering, and polishing create a lot of visual interest in a way that manages to avoid looking flashy or over-the-top. It would have been easy for Piaget to go with a 40mm or 43mm case here, but they opted for the more difficult and elegant 38mm case here. Really an awesome choice.
Putting the watch on, it’s almost tough to believe how light and thin this watch really is. It’s definitely not for everyone and probably not an everyday watch for anyone, but when it comes to an elegant dress watch that is also interesting and complicated, the Altiplano 900P makes a very compelling case. This very easily could have ended up as one of those “interesting to talk about, but not something anyone would want to actually wear” watches, but it avoids that entirely. Honestly, I was very impressed with this one in the metal.
To show just how thin this watch really is, check it out next to the world’s thinnest automatically wound mechanical watch. The Altiplano 43mm, which is still only 5.25mm. Next to the Altiplano 900P, it looks like nothing special.
This is the 23rd ultra-thin calibre from Piaget and something only achievable because the maison controls both its case and movement manufacturing processes. You can see our inside look at Geneva manufacture here.