Watch Lust: Piaget Altiplano

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In June we brought you a guide for dress watches under $1,000, featuring five pieces that one could happily own for many years, and proudly wear to work or a formal function knowing that you (or at least your wrist) look great.  But, like any respectable watch nerd, we also got to thinking about our dress watch lusts – those pieces that, while well out of our current or foreseeable price range, stand out from the crowd and deserve our admiration.  The Piaget Altiplano is one such watch, featuring simple, yet elegant looks, superior in-house movement and boasting the title of thinnest automatic mechanical watch in the world.  A $23,000 price tag keeps the Altiplano well beyond our reach, but firmly on our minds as a serious watch lust.

The headline to the Piaget Altiplano is, of course, that it is the worlds thinnest automatic watch, measuring just  5.25 mm tall.  This astonishingly thin profile is due to Piaget’s in house technology and the 2.5 mm 1208P ultra-thin automatic mechanical movement that powers the Altiplano.  The principle feature of the 1208P movement that allows for its low profile is the inclusion of a micro-rotor positioned off center, a technical achievement first revealed by Piaget in 1960, first seen in the 12P movement.  Interestingly enough, the 12P was actually thinner than the 1208P.

Nevertheless, the 1208P is a true feat in watchmaking, and one that Piaget should and is very proud of.  See for yourself with this very informative, and very epic watch video.

Beyond technical prowess, the Altiplano boasts some serious style.  Described by Piaget as having ” resolutely minimalistic spirit” the Altiplano combines simple, clean lines and a restrained ornamentation to create a watch with elegance and modern sensibility.  Needless to say, this is a welcome approach to dress watch design in a world when moderation often takes a back seat to excessive “bling”.

On the dial, slim black “batons” are present at each hour along an outer raised plane, while the slightly lower seated middle dial is absent any marking aside from the Piaget logo and the word “automatic”.  At the 4 o’clock position sits an active small seconds hand with numerical second indicators each ten minutes and black batons between each.  The hour, minute and second hands are all straight thin black bars.

The case of the Altiplano measures 43 mm in diameter and, as previously mentioned,5.25 mm tall.  The case finish of the the Altiplano that speaks most to me is the rose gold for its depth of color and ability to stand out from the crowd ever so slightly.  I also really like that this finish matches the finish of the 1208P movement micro-rotor visible from the Altiplano’s display case back.  Speaking of which, the 1208P is not only finished with a rose gold rotor engraved with the Piaget coat of arms, it also features blued screws, wheels with a sunburst motif, circular Côtes de Genève, beveled bridges, and a circular-grained mainplate.  In short, the Altiplano smartly conceals its flash on the inside, to be appreciated and presented by the wearer at his/her discretion.

So long story short, the Piaget Altiplano is a dress watch with the refined style you hope from the genre and expect from a brand like Piaget.  Further, the in-house 1208P movement is not only unique and practical, it has some real history.  At $23,000 though, the Altiplano finds itself relegated, for us a least, in the category of watch lust.

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