The race to create the world’s thinnest mechanical watch has been dominated by a handful of players in recent years, with few being as prominent as Piaget. The Piaget Altiplano series has been on the cutting edge of ultra-thin watch design for years, and for 2020, the brand has taken the next step forward to create the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept — the new world-record holder for thinnest hand-wound mechanical watch at only 2mm in overall depth. First debuting as a prototype in 2018, the model has returned as a regular member of the Piaget lineup.
Of course, the key to making the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept record-breakingly thin is in the case. Made from an advanced cobalt based metal alloy, this razor-thin 41mm case is available in both an all-over polished finish and PVD black. In order to preserve the extraordinary 2mm overall thickness, Piaget uses a host of unique tricks with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept’s case. Firstly, the rectangular crown is fully recessed into the case side at 3 o’clock, sitting completely flush and only distinguishable by a minor seam line. Secondly, the sapphire crystal is only 0.2mm thick. Most impressively, however, is the case architecture itself. In order to shave off precious fractions of a millimeter from the overall depth, the movement is actually integrated into the case with the caseback serving as the base plate, allowing the entire assembly to sit even more flush than before.
As a consequence of the extreme engineering at play here, the actual timekeeping dial of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is relegated to a small subdial at 12 o’clock, while the majority of the visual real estate is taken up by the necessary components of the movement. There’s a real mechanical beauty to the layout, particularly the wide mainspring barrel at 6 o’clock and the 9 o’clock balance wheel. Piaget offers the dial of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept in three separate colorways. The PVD black-cased version uses a black base, black movement bridges, and a black subdial with minimal silver-toned stick hands and indices. For the polished metal versions, the Altiplano Ultimate concept can be optioned with either a silver base and bridges with a contrasting blue sunburst subdial or with a black base, blued bridges, and a silver sunburst subdial.
Of course, one of the major components in creating a watch this thin is the movement itself. The ultra-thin in-house 900P-UC hand-wound movement is an impressive achievement in its own right. In development for the past six years, this paper thin powerplant uses 13 jewels and features five patent-pending innovations to produce a 40-hour power reserve and 28,800 bph beat rate in a system less than 2mm thick.
Each colorway of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept comes with its own strap variant, appropriately sized at 1.5mm-thin. The PVD black-cased model is made the dressiest of the bunch, thanks to black alligator leather, while the silver base version is paired with blue rubber, and the blue bridge variant receives a sporty Baltimora textile strap in midnight blue.
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept is, undoubtedly, an impressive technical achievement, made more impressive by the fact that this is a regular-production timepiece, available now from authorized dealers. Pricing for the Altiplano Ultimate Concept