Altiplano 60th Anniversary
January 25, 2017
In 1957, Piaget revolutionised the watchmaking world by launching an ultra-thin watch defining the codes of a new elegance. The unprecedented thinness of its profile and the purity of its dial endowed it with a distinguished look that immediately earned it a place in watchmaking history. A legendary timepiece was born. To mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of its iconic model, the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget is dedicating the year 2017 to the Altiplano. Celebrated by a limited numbered edition, it welcomes for the very first time a tourbillon – the noblest of watch complications – and lights up with original radiating colours. Through this new Altiplano anniversary collection, supreme elegance reveals itself ever more precisely, like a skyline opening up fascinating new perspectives.
A watch born out of a watchmaking revolution
Ever since it was founded in 1874 in La Côte-aux-Fées, a small village in the Swiss Jura, the history of Piaget has been inseparably bound up with that of ultra-thin watchmaking. The 20th century had barely begun when the Maison began appearing in supplier catalogues as an expert in ultra-thin components. Perpetuating the family tradition of boldness and perfection,
Valentin Piaget revolutionised the watchmaking world in 1957. His ultra-thin 9P manual- winding movement presented at the Basel watch fair became an instant legend. Being just 2 mm thick, the 9P was universally hailed for the elegance of its profile and its, as well as for its performance and its reliability. Above all, it enabled a broader 20.5 mm dial opening, heralding a new watchmaking aesthetic, while facilitating the construction of a remarkably slim timepiece. Three years later, in 1960, the founder’s grandson scored another success with the 12P, an ultra-thin self-winding measuring just 2.3 mm. This previously unthinkable degree of thinness was made possible by the use of the 24K gold off-centred micro-rotor, ensuring optimal barrel-spring winding efficiency. On April 27th 1960, the Journal de Genève published an article singing its praises: “Creating a 2.3 mm-thin self-winding calibre had previously seemed a pipedream. The entire research team in La Côte-aux-Fées can take pride in having written one of the finest chapters in watchmaking history, and in having worked in the same spirit that drove the pioneers”. Keenly aware of having taking a decisive new direction, the Manufacture decided to dedicate the 12P to its men’s models, while equipping both men’s and ladies’ watches with the 9P movement. By becoming a specialist of ultra-thin horology, Piaget demonstrated its taste for making daring moves.
The aesthetics of supreme elegance
These two revolutionary calibres enabled Piaget to focus firmly on the modern nature of ultra-thinness and thereby invent a new horological design vocabulary. Especially since the Maison announced at the time that it would be concentrating its endeavours on the finest materials: gold and platinum. The slenderness of the movements unleashed creativity in terms of both dials and cases, thereby highlighting Piaget’s unique style. Representing the peak of timeless distinction, the ultra-thin Piaget watch is endowed with finely balanced proportions whose purity conveys a sense of discreet, unostentatious elegance. The aesthetic delicacy of its case is extended by a large dial epitomising ageless restraint. This generous face is graced by a subtle alternation between slim single and double hour- markers, swept over by slender baton-type hands confirming this art of understatement. Renowned for its perfect ergonomics, the ultra-thin Piaget watch radiates an allure that immediately delights clients looking for style stripped of anything superfluous. A principle epitomised by Alain Delon, the French actor and style icon of his generation who adopted it in the early 1960s, as well as by today’s Piaget International Ambassador Ryan Reynolds.
Nonetheless, the apparent simplicity of the ultra-thin Piaget watch conceals great horological sophistication, exemplified by the circular Côtes de Genève, bevelled bridges, circular- grained mainplate and blued screws. Each stage in the making of an Altiplano watch, from its development through to its finishing, is performed in specialised Fine Watchmaking workshops where the full in-house integration of diverse skills guarantees the trademark Piaget excellence.