Following the 2014 launch of a prototype movement just 2mm thick, Piaget now brings the Altiplano Ultimate Concept to market as a fully developed, tried-and-tested watch.
The watch implements a number of Piaget innovations, including the case that forms part of the movement, a unique integrated winding crown, an ultra-thin crystal and new constructions for the barrel and energy regulation.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept consists of 167 individual components developed and produced in-house by Piaget’s dedicated research and innovation department, a process that required the submission of at least five patents, beginning with the manufacture of the 41 mm case and the direct machining of the movement’s bottom plate.
The case of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is too thin to use gold, so it had to be made from a new cobalt-based alloy that is highly resistant – 2.3 times more resistant than gold, but therefore more difficult to machine.
Other parts were completely redesigned and resized, such as reducing the wheels from the traditional 0.20mm thick to 0.12mm and reducing the sapphire crystal (which is usually 1mm thick in standard watches) by 80%. points to an incredible 0.2mm. A mere 0.12mm of cobalt separates the movement from the wearer’s skin.
The barrel has no cover or drum, but is mounted on a single ceramic ball bearing inside the watch cage and runs the 4Hz (28,800 vph) winding movement for up to 40 hours.
The crown has been completely overhauled in the form of a flat, telescopic system (with its own specially designed winding tool), flush with the bracelet, and replacing the traditional sliding pinion clutch and crown wheel with an “infinity screw”.
This construction offers the great advantage of perfectly protecting the crown and thus the movement from unwanted shocks.
Since a traditional straight spring could not be used in the off-centred position of the dial, a patented “staggered” spring was created.
The conventional hour hand is replaced by a rotating indicator disc, while the minute hand works in the usual way.
Instead of placing the dial and two hands on top of the bridge, the dial of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept sits below the dial, thus protecting it from any contact with the solid but wafer-thin crystal, which can deform instantly on impact.
The tiny dimensions of many of the components didn’t stop Piaget’s craftsmen from finishing the movement with sunburst and satin-brushed finishes, beveled and polished bridges, and enhancing the look of the combination case/backplate with a sophisticated PVD treatment.
A special alligator leather strap, a blue rubber and a blue technical textile strap were developed. They are all ultra-thin, with a velvet calfskin lining and super-strength Kevlar – secured by an ultra-thin cobalt stud clasp.