The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph at SIHH 2015
Piaget boasts a longstanding tradition in the manufacture of ultrathin timepieces and in the creation of incredibly thin hand wound calibers (a leadership that has probably been shared with Bulgari over the last two years). If I have to be honest, until my first article about the brand right before the official opening of this year's SIHH, I knew very little about Piaget and its history, marked by important milestones in watchmaking such as the “Ultra-thin revolution” which started nearly 60 years ago.
Two figures are highlighted by Piaget while describing its Piaget Altiplano Chronograph: the 4,65mm thickness of the caliber, and the 8,24mm thickness of the case, which make it the thinnest Flyback chronograph ever made. These two exceptional figures contribute, together with the unmistakable design of the Altiplano, to create what is in my opinion the most elegant yet modern three counter chronograph on the market.
The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph is the only three counter chrono (the third one is actually the second timezone indicator) to feature the same purity of design of a three hand timepiece. The term to adopt for this watch would be “classic”, but not in the sense we use when reviewing other timepieces of a similiar design. The Piaget Altiplano Chronograph is not “nostalgic”, it is not merely another re-edition of a 50's or 60's chrono you may easily find in many brands’ collections, if not just for the inspiration for the shape of its 41mm case and its counters’ displacement. This, I believe, is the “trick” that makes this watch stand out from the competition.
Its tiny hands and the need to pack everything in just 8,24mm make for a seamless gap between glass and dial: you almost have the feeling of being able to touch the dial with your fingertips. The caliber is the 883P, which is an evolution of the 880P and it is also a Flyback chrono. To make it so compact, engineers at Piaget had to work hard to create the smallest possible single components: the cannon-pinion is just 0,12mm thick, the barrel staff just 0,115mm (this is one of those cases where the third decimal is quite significant). The result is a column wheel chrono, with a vertical clutch mechanism and 50 hours of Power Reserve. The hand wound caliber is visible through the sapphire crystal on the back: it has circular Cotes De Gèneve decoration, a circular-grained mainplate, beveled bridges, sunburst wheels and azured screws.
I will let you comment how the Piaget Altiplano Chronograph sits on the wrist, in its 18K rose gold version, although I would prefer a white gold version, which Piaget offers but just with a 56 brilliant-cut diamonds adorned bezel. I hope they will soon add a white gold version to their collection, as well as a stainless steel one, but I presume this will remain just a wish, as the entire Altiplano collection comes exclusively in gold (or platinum). It will be available as of September 2015, at a price tag that has not yet been released but, as soon as we'll know it, so will you.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®