Undoubtedly, ultra-thin watches are one of the topics that the watchmaking industry has particularly focused in recent years. The brands that offer timepieces in this segment, which became quite competitive for the last few years, are doing their best to manufacture the thinnest watch. Among the most assertive names in this regard is Piaget, one of the milestones of traditional Swiss watchmaking. Here we have the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P which was introduced at the SIHH 2018 and won the title of the world's thinnest self-winding watch ever produced.
When it comes to modern ultra-thin watches, it is almost impossible to feel the differences between the mentioned thickness values in everyday life. Especially when you are talking about names like Bulgari and Piaget which are among the cult brands with their jewelry product lines as well, these millimetric differences make more sense on paper than they do on the wrist. But if the goal is to produce the thinnest watch and break the record, these differences are of course of utmost importance.
Piaget is a very experienced name regarding ultra-thin watches. The brand, which blends the know-how from the jewelry part with the experience achieved in traditional watchmaking, seems to have managed to become the top name in the ultra-thin watch race.
The new Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P, which we had the opportunity to see during our visit to the brand’s booth at SIHH 2018, is really an "interesting" watch. Let me explain why I call it interesting; if you give more importance to a certain point than the others while you are designing a product, those others will always remain in the background. To give an example, the interior colors and ride comfort are never important for a race car as it is designed to go fast and handle well at extreme conditions. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P is a model that exactly reminds me of this situation. The methods used to make this watch that thin are very radical. As a result of that, parameters like dial design, legibility, water resistance etc. -that are important for a standard watch- are all kept in the background.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P is mostly based on the brand’s Altiplano 900P model which races in the “hand-wound” sub-category of the ultra-thin competition. Therefore, it is possible to see many similarities between these two models.
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P comes in a 41mm diameter case which is not modest in terms of size. But as I mentioned above, we are not talking about the smallest watch here so, let’s focus on the model’s total height which is only 4.3mm!
I had the chance to see some ultra-thin watches from certain brands and I quite liked them. The height of the watch was never on the top of my preferences list but, this doesn’t mean that I remain unresponsive to their engineering and beauty.
What does 4.3mm mean? Well, it is like strapping a pair of coins to your wrist. Yes, this is exactly how I felt after I put Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P on my wrist. I wore some models from the Bulgari Finissimo Collection which are almost as thin as this Piaget. But, maybe it’s about the angular design of the Octo case, Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P definitely felt like THE ultra-thin watch.
So, where does this slimness come from? The answer is hidden in brilliantly arranged technical details. Just like the Caliber 900P, Caliber 910P also makes use of the caseback to support the movement parts. The gears and pivots of the movement are mounted directly on the case back, eliminating the need for a main plate as we find in standard movements.
The dial (which does not feature a second hand) and hands are slightly recessed below the surrounding bridges. Having the barrel suspended from a single bearing on one end instead of using a pair of bearings at the top and bottom ends is also another design detail that was used in the Caliber 900P. Despite the simplified barrel design, Caliber 910P still manages to offer a 50-hour power reserve when fully wound.
When it comes to ultra-thin automatic watches, the peripheral winding system is a popular one among the modern methods. Thanks to this system, which eliminates the additional height of a conventional rotor, Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P achieves a total thickness of 4.3mm. In order to prevent insufficient inertia to wind the watch, the rotor is made of 22k gold and it is mounted on ball bearings.
The model we have here comes in an 18K white gold case. There is an 18K pink gold version in the model family as well. Both models are offered on black alligator straps that are secured by Piaget signed folding clasp manufactured from 18K white or pink gold depending on the version. Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P in 18K white gold (ref. G0A43121) will be priced at 27,000 CHF while the 18K pink gold (ref. G0A43120) will cost 26,000 CHF.
I don’t know about future of this ultra-thin challenge but if Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P is the end of it, then I can say I am happy to see the winner coming from a brand that is involved in manufacturing ultra-thin watches (and movements) for the last 60 years.