It is indeed breathtaking when trapeze artists perform their daring acts high above the crowds in the circus tent. No safety lines, just a full confidence in their own ability to perform on the edge of what is humanly possible. These skills are often the result of being born into them, practicing relentlessly from a very young age, so that it becomes a second nature. A a similar spirit is what surely one must feel when one sees what the watchmakers of Piaget have introduced this year at Watches & Wonders: an ultra-slim skeleton watch, but with bridges filled with enamel.
There is a great contradiction in all of this. Creating a ultra-slim skeleton watch is already working on the edge of what is technically possible, yet to also carve out these bridges partially so that they can be filled with enamel is bordering on the insane. Especially since enamel requires several firings to set to their full glory. In order to achieve this, Piaget first had to create a special enamel made from pure silica and metal oxides, that has the same traction as the 18K gold mainplate, because when it doesn’t the whole idea wouldn’t work.
The enamel is applied in five ultra-thin layers which are applied by hand. After each layer the mainplate, and enamel, are placed in an oven with temperatures between 780 and 800 degrees Celsius. The mainplate and the enamel need to withstand each firing without any distortion, to ensure not only visual appeal but also technical functionality and reliability.
The visual aspect of the enamel on the overall looks of the Piaget is astonishing. At first it might not sound too exciting; enamel in one color, only to highlight the bridges. The result is however quite the opposite. Because of the enamel the whole movement seem to revert back to its visual state of when it was designed. It looks like a functional drawing that you wear around your wrist. It is also then that you realize the full impact of what it takes to make such an ultra slim movement a skeleton movement as well. The lines of some bridges are so thin, there is so much cut away, yet there is still enough left to offer a fully functional movement and a reliable partner in time.
Piaget offers the 1200E in two very distinct versions. The rose gold one is clearly aimed at their female clientele, with its white enameled bridges. They offer a very clear contrast from each other, yet in a sort of paradox also complement each other. This version is also the technically most advanced 1200E of the two. Not that the movement is any different, but this version has a diamond set bezel. In order to set the diamonds, little holes have to be drilled in the 18K gold bezel. In most normal watches this is not such a problem, but being an ultra-slim watch with an ultra-slim case, Piaget is also there pushing the limits.
The white gold version featuring black enamel might offer less contrast, it does represent that touch of understatement that is also very Piaget. This 1200E is more private, revealing its true nature only to the one who wears it, or those with a keen eye who notice it and realize its full glory. Yet just like the rose golden version, does also the white gold version of the Piaget 1200E remind you of a technical drawing of a horological wonder. Actually not so strange since already in 1996 there was a book dedicated to Piaget’s history and horological achievements that was titled “Piaget; Watches and Wonders”, and almost two decades later Piaget still proves it is worthy of this title.
Images courtesy of REVOLUTION’s own Adi Soon
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics