There are two sides to the house of Piaget. There is the side that is all elegant restraint and quiet strength, the side that gave us the historical record-setting hand-wound calibre 9P, automatic 12P and, in recent years, the 1200P, 900P, the tourbillon movement 1270P and even an ultra-thin minute repeater calibre 1290P.
Then there is the exuberant, design-oriented side that came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, giving us spectacular dialwork in semi-precious stones, asymmetrical case designs, ornate bracelet tooling and gem-setting.
Both these sides are well represented in Piaget’s pre-SIHH releases for 2018 — the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic and the Extremely Lady.
For the 2016 SIHH, Piaget revived the oval-cased feminine gold watch on bracelet based on an archival timepiece originally worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
The Piaget Extremely Lady follows in the same vein, featuring the same gem-encircled dial on a slim bracelet that wraps snugly around the wrist, giving the illusion of a continuous soft and flexible gold band without obvious links.
The 2016 timepiece featured the so-called Palazzo bark-like finish on the surface of the bracelet, whereas the new release uses a variegated, hand-brushed finish that resembles the swirled fibers of a fur pelt.
The mother-of-pearl dial underscores the organic aesthetic with its nacreous surface playing with light in a similar irregular fashion. The Piaget Extremely Lady, in pink gold with a diamond-set bezel, houses the quartz calibre 56P and is a beautiful throwback to Piaget’s design expertise dating back at least six decades.
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic is the logical evolution of the 900P presented at the 2014 SIHH — being the thinnest manual-wound watch in production at the time, while the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic sets a new record as the thinnest automatic watch in the world today.
As the name suggests, the 910P in the Ultimate Automatic is a self-winding movement, although the word “movement” is somewhat redefined here. Just as the 900P pared movement height down to its very minimum in part by integrating the watch case back with the movement plate, the 910P is inseparable from the case which contains it.
The challenges of producing a successful ultra-thin watch are exponentially higher than that of a regular watch, simply because the margins of error are so much smaller. Tolerances are reduced even though the standards of precision are as rigid as ever.
The 910P uses a peripheral rotor instead of the offset micro-rotor that Piaget have used in nearly all their ultra-thin movements so far. This unusual winding system is used to eliminate the necessity for the bulky centre-mounted full rotor, but is vulnerable in its lower theoretical winding capacity, which makes its incorporation within the 910P a feat worth examining and celebrating.
The Altiplano Ultimate Automatic comes in a pink-gold version and a white-gold model.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate 910P
Diameter: 41 mm
World’s thinnest mechanical automatic watch
Automatic Calibre 910P with black PVD-coated 22K gold peripheral oscillating weight
18K gold pin buckle
Black alligator leather strap
Power reserve: approximately 50 hours
Frequency: 21,600 vph / 3 Hz
Thickness: 4.30 mm (case + movement)
Number of jewels 30
Piaget Extremely Lady Watch
18k pink gold, bezel set with 24 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.46cts), white mother-of-pearl dial and 18K pink gold fur decoration bracelet, scale clasp, 56P Piaget quartz movement