Piaget at SIHH 2010: from ultra-thin to double jeu Featured

A range of innovative models that exploit the slimline movements
by 02 February 2010

Piaget is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the introduction of its legendary Calibre 12P in 1960, at that time the world’s thinnest mechanical self-winding movement, by launching Calibre 1200P. This movement follows in the Piaget tradition of ultra-thin movements, and in fact the Maison claims that this is the thinnest self-winding movement currently on the market, at 2.35 mm. To achieve this, miniaturisation has reached remarkable levels. For example, while the gear trains of a classic movement usually measure around 0.2 mm, those of the 1200P are just 0.12 mm thick, which is scarcely more than a hair’s breadth (0.08 mm).

The automatic winding mechanism was one of the trickiest problems. This set of parts calls for a certain volume, and it tends to make a movement significantly thicker. Like the 12P, the solution thus consisted of integrating it within the 1200P using the principle of an off-centred oscillating weight, also known as a micro-rotor. This oscillating weight, engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms, is crafted in platinum. The use of this material gives it a weight and inertia ratio guaranteeing excellent winding force. The new ultra-thin movement is finished to an exceptional standard: in addition to the bevelled bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève, the circular-grained mainplate, the satin-brushed steel parts and the blued screws, the 1200P also features circular sunray-brushed wheels as well as a dedicated index-assembly bearing the “P” for Piaget, like a secret signature.

As from 2010, the new Calibre 1200P has been used to power one of Piaget's iconic models, the Altiplano, and in this case the PIaget Altiplano Anniversary Edition. The movement is relatively large –13 ¼ lignes, meaning 29.9 mm in diameter – and so it is ideal for a large but ultra-thin watch. Altiplano was thus a natural choice. Engraved with the inscription “1200P”, the case was designed well upstream in the development process so as to provide the perfect receptacle for the movement, each being specifically made for the other. The glass is deliberately flat rather than convex in order to accentuate the slimness of the case. The result is an extremely refined watch creation with tapering lugs and a hand-guilloché dial beautifully highlighted by an extremely slender bezel.

The various dial levels of the Altiplano Anniversary Edition – a clever means of further reducing the thickness of the watch while limiting hand-setting heights – and the alternation of single and double hour-markers, along with the word “automatic” reminiscent of Piaget’s historical pieces and the discreet inscription signalling that this is an anniversary model, all contribute to the pure style and perfect balance of the overall effect. Despite its extreme slenderness, the case in 18-carat pink gold matched with a midnight blue dial, or in 18-carat white gold framing a black dial, is equipped with a transparent case-back enabling one to admire the movement and the crown bearing the “P” for Piaget. A pin buckle reflecting the aesthetic of the bezel was specially created for this watch. Each of these versions is available in a limited series of just 235, and the individual number is engraved on the oscillating weight of each movement.

The Piaget Altiplano 43 mm Calibre 1208P will become part of the brand collection, while the Altiplano anniversary edition described above will remain an exclusive limited edition. The Altiplano 43 mm Calibre 1208P has the same meticulous finish both as regards its movement and its exterior, and it speaks of understated elegance. The oscillating weight is crafted from 22-carat gold, while a small seconds display at 4 o’clock enlivens the dial and makes the record 2.35 mm slimness of Calibre 1208P even more remarkable.
With the Altiplano 43 mm watch equipped with the new Calibre 1208P, the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget is setting two new records: that of the thinnest mechanical self-winding movement on the market at 2.35 mm; and that of the thinnest watch in its category, measuring a mere 5.25 mm.

There are several design opportunities provided by ultra-thin movements, and one of these is superbly exemplified by the Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu 43 mm (Calibres 838P / 832P). The model was introduced in 2007 and it attained immediate success. It actually consists of two watches, featuring extremely slender cases and ultra-thin movements, so that they can be superimposed. The result is original and modern, with two large, 43 mm dials displaying two times. The upper dial is powered by the mechanical hand-wound Calibre 838P, and it is set to the destination time zone, while the lower dial, driven by the hand-wound Calibre 832P, remains set to the time at the place of departure.
Piaget wished to go a step further and to enhance the sophistication of the Double Jeu concept by presenting the time on a 24-hour scale instead of the usual 12 hours. This is entirely logical, considering the function of the watch: to enable someone to phone his or her children on the other side of the world, sure of the fact that they are about to go to school, rather than having already gone to bed. To achieve this, the master-watchmakers at Piaget had to modify the hour wheel and to install a new minute mechanism that enables a display running from 1 to 24. This technical solution enables an original display on the lower dial, entirely in keeping with the spirit of this atypical watch. It is also perfectly legible, since the 24 hours appear on a single hour scale.

The new Altiplano Double Jeu model equipped with Calibre 838P and with the new Calibre 832P is available in two versions: 18-carat pink or white gold, each fitted with a sapphire crystal beneath the upper case - revealing the movement - and a solid back engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms beneath the lower case.
Piaget is skilled in jewellery as well as in watch-making, and so the Maison is uniquely positioned for open-working and gem-setting its ult.-thin movements. At SIHH Piaget presented a new ultra-thin gem-set movement: Calibre 838P, in the Altiplano gem-set skeleton. Gem-setting an ultra-thin skeletonised movement is an extremely complex task, since it requires modifications of its fundamental structure. Each part to be set, whether a plate or bridge, must be just thick enough to accommodate the jewelling while remaining sufficiently rigid. This requires careful coordination of the different figures involved in design and construction, namely the gem-setter, watchmaker and movement developer. A dedicated reinforced solid gold mainplate had to be developed in order to support the gem-setting.

The result is truly spectacular: 0.48 carats of full-cut diamonds, meaning no less than 174 stones set into a single movement measuring just 3.10 mm thick. The calibre is finished with all the Piaget trademark features: sunburst guilloché bridges, bevelling, circular graining and hand-drawn mainplate and bridges, blued screws, and circular satin-brushed wheels. The finished result is harmoniously set within the case, with a flang with 144 diamonds totalling 0.91 carats. Crafted in 18-carat white gold with a bezel set with 72 diamonds totalling 1.01 carats, this watch is available exclusively from Piaget boutiques.

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