PRE-SIHH 2017: Piaget Altiplano – The watch of ultimate distinction celebrates its 60th anniversary

PRE-SIHH 2017: Piaget Altiplano – The watch of ultimate distinction celebrates its 60th anniversary

In 1957, Piaget revolutionised the watchmaking world by launching an ultra-thin watch defining the codes of a new elegance. The unprecedented thinness of its profile and the purity of its dial endowed it with a restrained look that immediately earned it a place in watchmaking history. A legendary timepiece was born.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of its iconic model, the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget is dedicating the year 2017 to the Piaget Altiplano, by unveiling a limited-edition collection bearing the hallmark of supreme distinction.

A watch born out of a watchmaking revolution

Right from its 1874 founding in La Côte-aux-Fées, a small village in the Swiss Jura, the history of Piaget has been inseparably bound up with that of ultra-thin watchmaking. The 20th century had barely begun when the Maison began appearing in supplier catalogues as an expert in ultra-thin components. Perpetuating the family tradition of boldness and perfection, Valentin Piaget revolutionised the watchmaking world in 1957. His ultra-thin 9P manual-winding movement presented at the Basel watch fair was an instant legend. At just 2 mm thick, the 9P was universally hailed for the elegance of its profile and its architecture, as well as for its performance and its reliability. Above all, it enabled a broader 20.5 mm dial opening, heralding a new watchmaking aesthetic, while enabling the construction of a remarkably slim timepiece. Three years later, in 1960, the founder’s grandson scored another success with the 12P, an ultra-thin self-winding measuring just 2.3 mm – a previously unthinkable degree of thinness made possible by the use of the 24k gold off-centred micro-rotor offering an optimal winding efficiency of the barrel-spring. On April 27th 1960, the Journal de Genève published an article singing its praises: “Creating a 2.3 mm- thin self-winding calibre had previously seemed a pipedream. The entire research team in La Côte-aux-Fées can take pride in having written one of the finest chapters in watchmaking history, and in having worked in the same spirit that drove the pioneers”. Keenly aware of having taking a decisive new direction, the Manufacture decided to dedicate the 12P to its men’s models, while equipping both men’s and ladies’ watches with the 9P movement. By becoming a specialist of ultra-thin horology, Piaget demonstrated its taste for making daring moves.

The aesthetics of supreme distinction

Its two revolutionary calibres enabled Piaget to focus firmly on the modern nature of ultra- thinness and thereby invent a new horological design vocabulary. Especially since the Maison announced at the time that it would be concentrating its endeavours on the finest materials: gold and platinum. The slenderness of the movements unleashed creativity in terms of both dials and cases, thereby highlighting Piaget’s unique style. Representing the peak of timeless distinction, the ultra-thin Piaget watch is endowed with finely balanced proportions whose purity conveys a sense of discreet, unostentatious elegance. The aesthetic delicacy of its case is extended by a large dial epitomising ageless restraint and graced with a subtle alternation between slim single and double hour-markers, swept over by slender baton-type hands confirming this art of understatement. Renowned for its perfect ergonomics, the ultra-thin Piaget watch radiates an allure that immediately delights clients looking for style stripped of anything superfluous, as epitomised by Alain Delon, the French actor and style icon of his generation who adopted it in the early 1960s or Piaget International Ambassador Ryan Reynolds.

Nonetheless, the apparent simplicity of the ultra-thin Piaget watch conceals great horological sophistication, exemplified by the circular Côtes de Genève, bevelled bridges, circular-grained mainplate and blued screws. Each stage in the making of an Altiplano watch, from its development through to its finishing, is performed in specialised Fine Watchmaking workshops in which the full in-house integration of diverse skills guarantees the trademark Piaget excellence.

A watch like a manifesto of elegance

Presented in 1960s advertising as “the watch of the international elite”, the ultra-thin Piaget model has evolved over the decades in perfect sync with the times. When pop culture reigned supreme, dials turned colourful with hard ruby, tiger’s eye, lapis lazuli, coral, malachite, onyx and jade stones. White and yellow case bezels and lugs were adorned with sophisticated “Clous de Paris” hobnail guilloché patterns or set with diamonds. Whether for 1970s businessmen in double-breasted suits flying to New York on Concorde with his Rubik’s Cube safely in their attaché case; or for neo-dandies shunning any ostentation, the ultra-thin Piaget watch remained an inseparable companion.

Named in tribute to this high-altitude plateau of the Andes Cordillera mountain range, an environment vividly reflecting the pure and natural beauty of its stellar model, the Piaget Altiplano lent its restrained elegance to the new century’s desire for absolutes.
The Piaget Altiplano lent its restrained elegance to the desire for absolutes characterising the early 21st century. Its skeletonised design revealed the magic of an airy mechanism featuring components openworked to the very limits of their resistance. This inherently playful collection dared to introduce an iconoclastic version of the dual-time function, measured by two stacked cases with the Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu. The Altiplano line continued to develop, welcoming ever richer technical content, such as the calendar or chronograph, while losing nothing of its signature slimness and elegance. To mark Piaget’s 140th anniversary, the Manufacture once again revolutionised the ultra-thin world by presenting the Piaget Altiplano 900P in 2014. Symbolising the unbelievably audacity of literally merging the case and movement, the new timepiece showcased an inverted movement construction revealing the bridges and the going train on the dial style to create a unique and hypnotically fascinating sight. Connoisseurs also appreciate its generous 48-hour power reserve, ensured by a suspended barrel held by a single bridge. Capable of adapting to the lifestyle of each individual, whether complementing a smart tailor-made two-button suit jacket with open lapel buttonholes, or a casual look with a cashmere sweater teamed with a pair of loafers, the Piaget Altiplano 900P firmly embedded the iconic watch in the third millennium. In 2016, it even appeared set with diamonds right the way through to the heart of its movement (Piaget Altiplano 900D), a technical and elegant feat that Piaget is alone in offering.

2017, year of the Piaget Altiplano

Loyal to its reputation, the Piaget Altiplano is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its launch with its characteristic supreme elegance. Issued in a limited-edition collection, it exudes an aura of chic discretion that will appeal to all men and women looking for new horizons.

As expressed through its anniversary collection, the new Piaget Altiplano is more than ever synonymous with lifestyle choices. Like a skyline leading towards entirely new perspectives, dedicated to all those who believe in matching contemporary lifestyles with essential values. Among the latter, quintessential elegance free of any superfluous elements remains a benchmark, and supreme distinction a guiding principle.

First to be unveiled are two original models – one hand-winding and the other self-winding – inspired by the aesthetic codes of the first ultra-thin watches: the historical logo, the applied gold hour-markers and the signature cross as a nod to the line’s historical origins. This first limited- edition collection will be enriched by several other new models in the course of the year.

The new classics: Piaget Altiplano Self-Winding 43 mm (G0A42105) and Piaget Altiplano Manual-Winding 38 mm (G0A42107)

Drawing upon the aesthetic codes of the first ultra-thin Piaget models, the new Piaget Altiplano Self-winding and Hand-winding watches vividly illustrate the creativity of the Maison, which is capable of revisiting an iconic model in order to meet today’s needs. Both are graced with a sunburst dial in the historical Piaget blue, a deep shade somewhere between cobalt and midnight blue representing a token of vintage elegance with a contemporary twist. Likewise, the understated blue cross, also picked up from historical Piaget models, engages in a fascinating visual dialogue with the applied white gold hour-markers and the slim baton-hands typical of the line.

The 43 mm diameter of the self-winding model emphasises the perfectly balanced lines of the Piaget Altiplano. The historical mention “Piaget Automatique”, which appeared on the very first ultra-thin timepiece by the Maison, is reproduced here with a subtle updating of the letter “A”. In honour of this large-sized ultra-thin watch, the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget has equipped it with Calibre 1200P, representing the fourth generation of its ultra-thin self-winding movements and measuring 2.35 mm thin. The result of a full three-year development process, this exceptional modern calibre, presented in 2010 for the 50th anniversary of the legendary 12P, is a bridge between past and present, while paying homage to the Manufacture’s rich history. The 18k white gold case fitted with a sapphire crystal is an open invitation to admire the splendid finishing, such as the bevelled bridges adorned with circular Côtes de Genève, the circular- grained mainplate, the satin-brushed steel parts and the blued screws. Adopting the off-centred micro-rotor principle of the legendary calibre, the Self-Winding version reveals a gold oscillating weight engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms.

At the heart of the new Piaget Altiplano 38 mm-diameter model beats Calibre 430P (2.1 mm thick). Representing the second generation of manual-winding movements, this calibre designed; developed, produced and decorated by the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie has established itself as a worthy heir to the 9P. Like the latter, universally acclaimed in 1957 for the beauty of its profile and its construction, Calibre 430P is renowned for its aesthetic appeal and its reliability. It confirms Piaget’s unique expertise in the demanding world of extreme thinness.

Through their pure, minimalist design and signature aesthetic, the new Piaget Altiplano Self- Winding 43mm and Manual-Winding 38 mm reveal a contemporary elegance that transcends existing genres. These two models herald a year brimming with events and new models to celebrate the anniversary of a watch expressing supreme distinction and consistently in tune with its times.