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Piaget Unveil Ultra-Thin Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon at Incredible 2mm Thickness

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

The fight to create the thinnest watches in the world is a three horse race. You have Piaget with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept at 2mm thick, Richard Mille with the RM UP-01 at an incredulous 1.75mm and Bulgari who are currently winning the race with the new Octo Finissimo Ultra Mark-II at 1.7mm. However, the battle goes beyond just the title of ‘thinnest watch’ as the fighting is also fierce in categories such as ‘thinnest tourbillon watch’ or ‘thinnest chronograph’. Piaget have struck the latest blow when it comes to thin tourbillons with the launch of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

In this particular competition the main rival is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon at 3.95mm from 2018. With the new Altiplano coming in at 2mm, it’s thinner by a fairly comfortable margin. That’s the same thickness as the original Altiplano Ultimate Concept. However, being unwilling to compromise on size meant an intensive development process to try and shave off as much height from the tourbillon as possible.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Tourbillons are typically quite tall complications with the large rotating cage often rising from the dial like a pillar, or alternatively occupying a deep space recessed into the dial. Either way, that’s a lot of vertical space to make up. Early attempts at producing an ultra-thin tourbillon involved versions with no upper bridge, supported only from below. However, even this was too thick. The elegant solution they eventually settled on after more than 70 attempts is to support the tourbillon not from above or below as is traditional, but to support it from its peripheral edge, held in place by a ceramic ball bearing.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

Looking at the dial of the watch, you can see the tourbillon occupying the upper left portion of the display, at 10 o’clock. It’s worth noting that as the tourbillon rotates at a rate of once per minute, it also serves as the watch’s seconds indicator. Next to that at 2 o’clock is the hour and minute subdial. Although the largest mechanism visible on the dial is actually the power barrel, which has also had a complete redesign compared to the original Ultimate Concept because the tourbillon increases the power demand of the watch by 25%. The spring itself is slightly thicker so that it can store more energy and the movement uses ball bearings rather than pivots to reduce friction, proving a 40-hour power reserve.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

The case housing all this is made from Piaget’s special cobalt alloy with a midnight blue PVD coating. We’ve already talked about the fact that it’s 2mm thick, but the diameter is actually fairly broad at 41.5mm. Drawing on a pop-culture reference, it reminds me of the Transformer called Reedman from the 2009 film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen who was so thin as to be invisible from one direction but easily visible from another.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

It’s beyond question that the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon is an impressive watch. Operating at the cutting-edge of horological development is always exciting and is a fiercely competitive part of the industry. How long will this watch sit with the crown of being the thinnest tourbillon? Will anyone knock Richard Mille off the overall top spot of producing the thinnest watch full stop? Only time will tell. Your move, Bulgari.

Price and Specs:

Model: Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon
Case: 41.5mm diameter x 2mm thickness, M64BC cobalt alloy with dark blue PVD coating
Dial: Skeletonised monobloc
Water resistance: 20m (2 bar)
Movement: Piaget calibre 970P-US, manual winding, 13 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 35h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, tourbillon
Strap: Dark blue fabric with pin buckle
Price: Price on request

More details at Piaget.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.