Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Piaget Altiplano 38MM 900D

At just 5.60 mm thick, the Altiplano 38 mm 900D epitomises a flair for boldness and the constant quest for infinite slimness, delicacy and refinement cherished by Piaget. This standout model sets a new crowning touch to more than half a century of virtuoso skills in the realm of ultra-thin watchmaking. Not only that, but this supremely chic icon featuring a case and movement that merge into an inseparable whole – clad in diamonds right the way through to the heart of its calibre and taking the art of gemsetting to a new pinnacle of flawless excellence – asserts itself as the world’s thinnest Haute Joaillerie watch. This radiant and exclusive creation interpreted in masculine and feminine variations is a sublime embodiment of Piaget’s vision of perfection.
In 2014, the 140th anniversary of the Maison witnessed the launch of a revolutionary watch: the Altiplano 38 mm 900P. This spectacular and elegant watch based on a whole new concept set a new ultra-thin record. But above and beyond its slender 3.65 mm thickness, the most striking aspect of this model lies in the boldness of its design. The case and movement are as one, with the latter serving as a mainplate to which the 145 components of the calibre are fixed. Designed as an inseparable whole to achieve record-breaking slimness, this timepiece quite literally embodies the merging of the Maison Piaget’s two integrated Manufactures: one in La Côte-aux-Fées where the movements are developed; and the other in Plan-les-Ouates where the watch exteriors are designed and crafted in synergy with the watchmakers. The cases, dials and sapphire crystals must be closely fitted to the precious mechanisms they protect. No less than three years were required to take up such a challenge. In 2016, the chic icon of extreme slenderness is transformed into an Haute Joaillerie talisman.

A permanent invitation to excel, the motto “Always do better than necessary” is the constant leitmotif driving the challenges taken up by the Maison. At Piaget, the movement is always an integral part of the watch design and with more than 40 different professions exercised in its workshops at La Côte-aux-Fées and Plan-les-Ouates, nothing could be more natural than for the Maison to express its watchmaking art by associating it with dazzling mastery of the jewellery art. Extending all the way to the heart of the movement, this ultimate feat can only be achieved by the superlative expertise of the finest gemsetters, showcased in the 900D movement just as it is in the pink gold 838D hand-wound skeleton movement with small seconds; in the white gold 1200D self-winding skeleton movement set with 259 brilliant-cut diamonds and the thinnest of its kind in the world; or the 1270Dself-windingskeleton movement set with 71 baguette-cut diamonds and 561 brilliant-cut diamonds that is also the thinnest in the world.
While ultra-thin horology is embedded in the very genes of the Maison, the equally demanding art of gemsetting is also an integral part of its DNA. True artists of light with an eye just as sure as their accurate gestures, the master-gemsetters in turn perform impressive technical feats. In the realm of ultra-thin watchmaking, the thinness of the material leaves little room for setting the stones and allows only infinitely small tolerances in order to preserve the pure curving lines and the volume of the case. Adorned with 5.77 carats of diamonds, the Altiplano 38 mm 900D sets a new record as the world’s slimmest Haute Joaillerie watch, at a mere 5.60 mm thick. Liberally sprinkling this creation with 304 diamonds and subtly alternating gem cuts – of the baguette variety for the bezel and chapter ring, and brilliant-cut for the lugs and case middle –, Piaget masterfully illustrates the symbolic merging of its skills. Moreover, the Maison further magnifies the exclusive character of the movement, incorporated into the mainplate, by means of snow-setting. This sophisticated technique involving random setting with diamonds of varying diameters, nestling closely against each other to entirely conceal the underlying precious metal, creates shimmering reflections similar to sunbeams dancing across snow. In addition to the complexity of the workmanship and the no less than four days required to perform it, the initial selection of the stones themselves also requires considerable expertise. Further reflecting this quest for radiance aimed at meeting the high standards established by the Maison, the screws of the bridges and gear wheels are also gemset, while the solid caseback and the folding clasp are also graced with the ultimate touch of luxury in the form of a row of diamonds.

Setting an ideal stage for the ultra-thin movements of the Maison, the Altiplano is named after the eponymous “high plane” (altiplano in Spanish) that is one of the world’s highest inhabited regions at the heart of the Andes mountain chain with a mean altitude of 3,650 metres. A vital statistic to which the exceptional slenderness of the Altiplano 38 mm 900P pays tribute with its symbolic 3.65 mm thickness! Meanwhile, the 900P reference is a tribute to the legendary 9P movement that was the world’s first ultra-thin hand-wound calibre made by Piaget in 1957, a mechanism measuring just 2 mm thick and that would seal the destiny of the Manufacture in the realm of the ultra-thin.  In 1960, the 2.3 mm thick Calibre 12P became the world’s thinnest self-winding movement, thereby setting the first record in a long lineage of ultra-thin mechanical movements, both hand-wound and self-winding, with or without complications. Indeed, of the 35 Manufacture Piaget movements developed and produced in-house, 23 are ultra-thin movements among which 12 hold records in their category. The latter include Calibre 600P, the world’s thinnest hand-wound shaped tourbillon movement; and Calibre 1209P, the self-winding movement with small seconds that is also the slimmest in its category. First launched in 1998, the 430P replaced the 9P and was fitted in the ultra-thin watches by the Maison that were given the name Altiplano.

Technical details
Model: Piaget Altiplano 38 MM 900D Ref: G0A41122
World’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound Haute Joaillerie watch
Calibre and exterior merge to become one
38 mm in case in 18K white gold set with 38 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 1.36 cts) and 266 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.86 cts)
Crown set with a brilliant-cut diamond (approx. 0.06 cts)
Dial set with 33 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 1.34 cts)
Black baton-type hands
Black alligator leather strap with large square scales
Triple folding clasp set with 23 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.05 cts)
Mechanical hand-wound movement, snow-set Manufacture Piaget Calibre 900D
Development time: 3 years
Time required for movement gemsetting: 4 days
Power reserve: approx. 48 hours
Frequency: 21,600 vph / 3Hz
Thickness: 5.65 mm (case + movement)
Number of jewels: 20
Functions: hours, off-centred minutes at 10 0’clock
Number of components: 145 (case + movement)
Finishes: circular satin-brushed mainplate set with brilliant-cut diamonds, snow-set bridges, sunburst wheels, screws set with brilliant-cut diamonds, dedicated index-assembly with the “P” for Piaget signature
Water resistance: 2 ATM

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