Watches: Piaget Altiplano 38mm 900P

By Thierry Ané on December 15, 2013

The year 2014 will mark the 140th anniversary of Piaget and the brand has decided to celebrate this anniversary with great fanfare, introducing the Altiplano 38mm 900P. Indeed, the watch that will officially be unveiled at the SIHH in January holds the record for the world thinnest mechanical movement, with a jaw-dropping thinness of 3.65 mm.

Piaget has always been considered the leader in ultra-thin watchmaking and can claim more than a dozen records in this category. Surprisingly, though, until this new watch, the overall thinnest mechanical watch (not just the movement, but the movement plus the case) belonged to Jaeger-LeCoultre. It is thus with an amazing 0.40 mm advantage that Piaget beats the already slim 4.05 mm of the Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee timepiece.

Whether you consider thinness a complication per se or not, there is no denying that ultra-thin watches come with tremendous challenges both at the engineering and design levels. It took Piaget’s team three years to overcome the technological difficulties inherent to such extreme slenderness. Their solution was to literally merge the hand-wound calibre and the case. Indeed, there is no separate movement that can be removed from the case: to save space, Piaget’s designers built all the movement’s parts directly into the watch’s body.

The calibre has been machined directly from the case. The case back thus serves as the mainplate supporting all the gears and components of the calibre. With this complex architecture, the movement construction is reversed and the bridges appear on the dial side. The off-centre dial has been set directly into the bridges: technically, it avoids having an additional layer, however thin, and aesthetically, it offers an unobstructed view of the movement, bringing a nice technical feel to the watch.

As its name suggests, this Altiplano 38mm 900P comes in a 38 mm case crafted in white gold and paired with a black alligator strap secured with a white gold pin buckle. The overall finish is nothing less than what you would expect from Piaget: black bridges and screws with alternating satin-brushed and sandblasted surfaces, sunburst or circular satin-brushed wheels, and carefully bevelled bridges.

Recently, Piaget’s watchmakers have shown their great talents when it comes to designing openwork or skeleton watches with an extremely modern and innovative look. The Altiplano 38mm Skeleton Ultra-Thin or the Altiplano 40mm Skeleton Ultra-Thin are two stunning examples of the perfect balance between technical and contemporary look. The new Altiplano 38mm 900P clearly follows in these footsteps: the watch looks absolutely fantastic.

Despite the immense respect I have for the technical achievements it represents and the originality of its design, it is, in my opinion, a great choice for… the ladies only! If you combine the tiny 38 mm case with the remarkable thinness, I think that the watch is way too small for an average man’s wrist, let alone a large one.

And you, what do you think? Is smaller and thinner always better?

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: