So, it’s finally happened. The leader in skinny horology has created the thinnest mechanical watch in the world: the Piaget Altiplano 900P. The entire thing measures a precarious 3.65mm, which is not even the thickness of some movements out there. The genius of this feat is achieved by mounting the movement onto the case itself, thus shaving off precious millimetres and usurping the throne of skinniest ticker from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee (4.05mm).
With this record-breaker under Piaget’s belt, what’s next?
“We can relax a little now!” quips Piaget chief executive Philippe Leopold-Metzger. “Now, we can sit back for a while and see what the competition does.” It is true that Piaget’s mastery of ultra-slim watchmaking has propagated a desire for sleeker, more elegant timepieces, and numerous brands have embraced the idea and worked to improve their own wares.
“Vacheron Constantin heavily advertised its release of the world’s thinnest manual-winding minute repeater. It’s thinner than ours, which is an automatic, so the company was very happy about that,” says Leopold-Metzger. “And I think it’s great because it’s not necessarily the record I admire, but the fact that the repeater is so beautiful to look at.”
He emphasises that making headlines isn’t Piaget’s philosophy, but the technique at the service of design is its prevailing code. And the watchmaker is reinforcing the idea that it’s no slouch at design with other novelties revealed this year. Two Altiplano models with beautiful embroidered dials were introduced, featuring the use of gold thread – incidentally, another first in watchmaking. One model, the Altiplano Scrimshaw, uses the scrimshaw technique (engraving on bone or ivory) on dials made of 40,000-year-old mammoth tusk.
Piaget takes pride in producing its movements in-house, but humbly leaves the delicate work of its metier d’art pieces to legendary craftsmen. “There is a lot of hypocrisy surrounding metiers d’art in watchmaking. There are many brands that use (famous enameller) Anita Porchet, but few of them credit her. But transparency is part of our business, so we are more than happy to recognise her skill,” Leopold-Metzger continues. “After all, we want to strengthen our relationships with these craftsmen and help them maintain their independence and viability. They are not solely driven by business, but by the hope that they can pass on their skills to the next generation, and we share that hope.”