Piaget just redefined the meaning of lean watchmaking, with their newest timepiece: The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch. This revolutionary timepiece is the world’s thinnest watch which can actually be purchased and worn. The Antiplano Ultimate Concept watch, or AUC for short, is a scant 2mm in thickness. Compare that to the popular Timex Men’s Expedition Scout 40, which has a thickness of 10mm, and you can get a good idea just how wafer thin this extraordinary timepiece is. In fact, timepiece aficionados the world over are quite curious as to just how Piaget accomplished this feat. So if you count yourself among them, read on to learn a bit more about the amazing Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch.
1. Its Predecessor: The 2018 Proof of Concept Watch
In 2018, at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Swizerland, the world got its first glimpse of the world’s thinnest dress watch to date: The Atiplano Ultimate Automatic by Swiss brand, Piaget. Placed under glass, the Atiplano Ultimate Automatic was made visible to onlookers via a rotating platform. However, it was just a concept watch, and not fit to market. Instead, the 4.3 mm thick Altiplano Ultimate Automatic watch set the stage for the AUC, a watch which could be marketed for everyday wear.
2. The Altiplano Ultimate Took 6 Years to Complete
Creating the worlds thinnest dress watch, one that was both strong and wearable was not an easy task. Even though Piaget made the development of thin watches their niche, they were always in competition with other watchmaking companies for the honor. Not one to give up, Piaget employed a staff of fine watchmakers and engineers to reach their goal. In fact, even after the 2018 debut of the AUC’s predecessor, the actual development and design of the AUC took around six years to complete. The first 4 years involved finding ways to integrate various watch components into the case, and the last two years spent turning it into a high quality timepiece that was durable, reliable and market ready.
3. The Journey Began in 1957
Piaget’s journey to craft the world’s thinnest watch, began way back when, in 1957, with the Piaget Altiplano 900P. Pure innovation in the making, their team of brilliant designers accomplished this by incorporating the movement into the case, which eliminated the traditional movement main plate. Instead, the case back was chiseled from a solid piece of gold, hence shaving off some of the thickness. In fact, it’s this practice, developed back in 1957 which is the single most crucial element in creating today’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch.
4. It Has a 0.20mm Sapphire Crystal
Many of us depend on our watches as a traditional way to help us keep track of everything from crucial appointments, to when our favorite television show is on, but few of us know just exactly how a watch is put together, or what the parts are called. A crystal, or watch glass, is the part that covers and protects the dial and watch hands. The everyday Altiplano’s crystal has a thickness of 1.00mm. The concept watch’s crystal,on the other hand, is ultra thin, at an unbelievable 0.2 mm. To help support the Sapphire Crystal, the designers at Piaget use the peaks of its own movement.
5. Comes with a Cobalt Alloy Monobloc Case
It was previously mentioned, that the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic concept watch unveiled in 2018 was 4.3mm thick, and achieved this size by removing the traditional movement main plate, and instead chiseled the plate right into a monobloc of gold. Gold, however, is a very soft metal, so selling this watch for everyday wear was out of the question. Also, believe it or not, so was using stainless steel. To overcome this design flaw, the developers decided on a case manufactured from a Cobalt Alloy, which is 2.3 times stronger than gold. Cobalt alloys are also corrosion resistant, wear resistant and can retain it’s strength at high temperatures.
6. Created with 167 Micro-engiineered Components
With dimensions measuring 41mm in diameter and 2mm in thickness, it’s hard to believe that the AUC contains a remarkable, 167 individual components, all whittled down to 0.12mm. The precision required to craft many of these microscopic components cannot be underestimated. Piaget also re-engineered the wheels from a standard 0.20mm thickness, to a lean 0.12mm. In fact, in the finished piece, the movement is kept separate from your wrist by only 0.12mm of Colbalt Alloy casing.
7. It Took a Team of 3 Engineers and 30 Watchmakers to Develop The New Design
We’ve already mentioned that that AUC took over 6 years to go from a design on a chalk board, to a product which can be purchased and worn by consumers. But did you know It took a team of 30 watchmakers to create the thinnest watch on the planet, and to do so, they had to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. Traditional watchmaking involves multi-part construction. Which means the case, movement, dial, crystal, and hands must all be separate pieces. However, to make the AUC, all of that had to be eliminated in favor of a new way of watch design, the ultimate in timepiece fusion and micro-engineering, where both movement and exterior fuse together to become one.
8. The Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch is Customizable
This is a brilliant bit of marketing for this watch. As if being the thinnest in the world was not enough, you can customize it for yourself or for a gift for someone special. By using their Style Selector you’re free to create your very own, “be-spoke” timepiece. The Style Selector guides you through the available choices for straps, hands, main plate, and more. In fact, there are over 10,000 possible designs available for this watch.
9. Five Breakthrough Patents
Along with the extensive team of engineers and watchmakers, the completion of the AUC depended on establishing 5 patents. Without these 5 technological advancements in watchmaking, there would be no AUC. These patents included the design of the following components: Barrel, regulation, winding device, flat crown and glass fixing. The barrel, regulation and winding elements had to be re-designed to be ultra thin, while the flat crown had to be re-designed in order to suite the watches 2mm size, with the Sapphire glass crystal had to be reduced to a 0.2mm size.
10. The Crown is Embedded in the Case
Those of you who’ve owned a mechanical watch are familiar with the crown, it’s that little button which you use to wind your watch. If you notice, the AUC doesn’t appear to have one, but it does. If you look closely, you’ll see a small, rectangular mechanism embedded in the case. In order to wind your watch, you’ll be supplied with a small tool. It should be noted, that once wound, you get 40 plus hours of power reserve.