SIHH 2017 Personal Perspectives: Piaget – A Guide to the 60th Anniversary Altiplano Ultra-Thin

Piaget marks the occasion with new, brightly coloured dials for the Altiplano, as well as a slim tourbillon.

The best known of Piaget‘s timepieces are its extra-thin wristwatches that come in all shapes and sizes, with the round Altiplano being most quintessential. Named after the Altiplano plains in South American, the Altiplano is the centrepiece of Piaget’s SIHH 2017 line-up that was relatively compact, perhaps a result of its chief executive’s retirement that was announced just after the fair.

Piaget’s very first extra-thin wristwatch made its debut in 1957 (though the Altiplano label came much more recently) and was characterised by plain dial featuring baton markers and hands, the generic look for a slim dress watch of that era. Now the same classic style is found on all Altiplano 60th Anniversary models, including the pair of white gold limited editions with blue dials that were previewed before SIHH.

The rest of the Altiplano 60th Anniversary watches fall into two size categories: 40mm watches for men and smaller 34mm or 38mm watches for women.

Three variants of the Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm are available, grey, blue and green – each limited to 260 pieces. The blue and green and paired with pink gold cases, while the grey is matched with white gold.

While the colours differ, the dials share a radially brushed finish with a bright and nuanced metallic colour, with the green and blue being particularly striking.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm blue 2

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm green 1

While the grey dial is more muted – it’s actually a blend of brown and grey – the colour is subtle and unusual.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm grey brown 2

While the dial design is simple, even elegant, an indiscreet date window at three o’clock looks out of place.

The trio share the same calibre 1203P, an automatic movement with a micro-rotor that’s just 3mm high.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm

The Altiplano 60th Anniversary 40mm in blue (ref. G0A42051) and green (ref. G0A42052) are priced at SFr23,000 or S$35,900. The same in white gold with a grey dial (ref. G0A42050) is SFr24,000 or S$37,400.

The basic Altiplano 60th Anniversary 34mm is available only in one colour, a vivid reddish-pink with a metallic finish, but in two versions.

The first is white gold with a plain case, while the second is set with 72 brilliant-cut diamonds. Each version is limited to 360 pieces.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 34mm pink 2

Both are powered by the hand-wound calibre 430P, a movement just 2.1mm high that’s hidden under a solid case back.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary 34mm pink 3

The plain model (ref. G0A42108) is priced at SFr16,500 or S$25,700, while the diamond-set version (ref. G0A42100) is SFr23,500 or S$36,600.

And the ladies’ Altiplano is also available as the Altiplano 34mm with the dial covered by a thin slice of turquoise or opal, harking back to the semiprecious stone dials that were all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s. While the turquoise version has an 18k white gold case, the opal dial model is pink gold. Both, however, are set with 72 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel and have the calibre 430P inside.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary stone dials

Both are each limited to 38 pieces. The turquoise model (ref. G0A42173) costs SFr27,000 or S$47,100, while the opal model (ref. G0A42174) costs SFr46,000 or S$71,500.

The last of the ladies’ anniversary Altiplanos is the Altiplano 900P in pink gold. Essentially a feminine version of the men’s 900P, this has a dial, or more specifically the chapter ring for the hours, made of 18k pink gold.

Measuring just 3.65mm high, the Altiplano 900P is the thinnest mechanical watch on the market, a feat made possible by mounting the parts of the movement directly on the case back, which doubles up as a movement plate. On this edition the visible screws have been plated in pink gold to match the dial and case, while the bridges have a frosted finish.

Piaget 60th Anniversary Altiplano 900P pink gold

The Altiplano 900P (ref. G0A42110) is limited to 200 pieces, priced at SFr24,500 or S$38,200 – which is about 10% less than the white gold men’s model.

The flagship of the Altiplano 60th Anniversary collection is the Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewellery, a large but thin watch with a vitreous enamel dial.

Arranging asymmetrically, the dial has the time is displayed on a sub-dial at eight o’clock, while the flying tourbillon is inside an aperture at two o’clock. Made of a solid gold disc decorated with radial engine-turning, the dial is finished with translucent greyish-blue enamel in a technique known as flinque.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Tourbillon High Jewellery 1

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Tourbillon High Jewellery 3

Set with baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel and brilliant-cut diamonds on the lugs and crown, the case is 18k white gold and 41mm in diameter. Even the rim of the sapphire window on the back is set with a row of brilliant-cut diamonds.

Inside is the calibre 670P, a hand-wound movement measuring 4.6mm high, making it one of the thinnest tourbillon calibres on the market.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Tourbillon High Jewellery 4

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Tourbillon High Jewellery 2

Limited to just 38 pieces sold only at Piaget boutiques, the Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewellery (ref. G0A42204) costs SFr180,000 or S$285,000.

As is traditional, the Piaget line-up also included several watches with unusual dials featuring artisanal decorative techniques, most notably the Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm.

Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm 4

Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm 1

Made by French craftswoman Emilie Moutard-Martin, the dial is composed of tiny slices of peacock, duck and rooster feathers, some of which have been covered in silver leaf for highlights. The feathers are first selected, washed, steamed and cut, before being carefully arranged by hand on the dial.

Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm 2

Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm 5

Piaget Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm 3

The white gold case is set with 72 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel, with the hand-wound calibre 430P inside.

The Altiplano Feather Marquetry 38mm is limited to 38 pieces, with the price yet to be announced.

The Altiplano Double Jeu Lacework is another version of the Altiplano with a hinged lid that serves as a canvas for decoration. This time the lid features a skeletonised grid inspired by fabric lacework, set with diamonds on the lid and bezel, protected by sapphire crystals on both sides.

Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu Lacework 1

Opened via the button in the case at three 0’clock (the crown at four is for winding and setting), the lid is the work of independent French jeweller Sara Bran, a specialist in open-worked gold jewellery who also created a gold cuff in the same style as the watch.

Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu Lacework 2

Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu Lacework 4

Under the lid sits the watch dial, which is white mother of pearl. Even with the lid closed the time is visible through the gold lacework.

Piaget Altiplano Double Jeu Lacework 3

Equipped with the 430P movement, the 38mm case is pink gold, and somewhat thick because of the hinged lid.

Lastly Piaget also added two variants to the Polo S line introduced last year, the Polo S ADLC. Castigated for looking like sports watches from other makers, the Polo S is now available in stainless steel with a bezel coated in amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC), giving the watch greater contrast and more significantly, a more original look.

Available as a chronograph or automatic with date, the Polo S ADLC shares exactly the same specs as the equivalents in the regular collection. The case remains 42mm in diameter, though the black bezel makes it seem slightly smaller.

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC Chronograph-1

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC Chronograph-3

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC Chronograph-2

While the original Polo S came on a steel bracelet, the Polo S ADLC is fitted with a rubber strap.

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC-2

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC-1

Piaget Polo S Black ADLC-3

Both versions of the Polo S ADLC are limited to 888 pieces each. Prices are unavailable but each costs about 5% less than the regular production model on a steel bracelet. So expect prices to be about US$9000 for the automatic and US$12,000 for the chronograph.


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SIHH 2017 Personal Perspectives: Parmigiani – More Entry-Level Watches, Still Unimpeachable Quality

Parmigiani unveils several entry-level timepieces in steel, plus the handsome but pricier Toric Chronometre.

Parmigiani produces timepieces that are extremely and tangibly well made – in fact as good as the big boys from Geneva – which usually renders its timepieces discouraging expensive. Fortunately SIHH 2017 saw the addition of a diverse array of stainless steel watches to the Parmigiani line-up.

The most basic watch in the line-up is the Tonda 1950 in steel, a large but elegant flat time-only wristwatch that was previously only offered in precious metals.

Parmigiani Tonda 1950 steel 2

The steel model measures 40mm in diameter, slightly larger than the 39mm gold version, but still as thin at just 8.2mm high. Like the other Tonda watches this retains the characteristic, prominent lugs that arch downwards.

Parmigiani Tonda 1950 steel 1

A sapphire back reveals the calibre PF702 inside. A variant of the Vaucher 5401 – Vaucher is a movement maker owned by Parmigiani – it’s essentially the same movement that also powers the Slim d’Hermes and Richard Mille RM 33-01.

An automatic with a micro-rotor, the movement is an admirable 2.6mm high. Essentially the same movement as found inside the 18k gold Tonda, with the exception of a simplified winding mechanism and tungsten. In the gold model the rotor is 22k gold.

Parmigiani Tonda 1950 steel 3

Parmigiani Tonda 1950 steel 4

Available with a white or black dial, the Tonda 1950 in steel is priced at US$9900, making it the most affordable men’s watch from the brand.

The next steel offering in the Tonda line is the Tonda Métrographe, the entry-level chronograph from Parmigiani that’s been given a dial facelift and a very slight price reduction of about 6% versus the earlier models.

Available in black or silver, the new dial has a modern-ish design that looks more functional than the dials it replaces. It’s characterised by baton markets and a tachymetric scale on the outer edge of the dial.

Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe 1

Each dial colour is matched with subtle coloured accents, gold on the black dial and blue for the white. One detail that could be done without is the double-ended constant seconds hand at three o’clock, which leaves an unnecessary void on half the sub-dial.

The steel case measures 40mm in diameter, but the wide lugs leave it seeming bigger.

Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe 2

Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe 3

Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe 5

Inside is the PF315, an automatic movement with a modular construction, with the chronograph module sitting on top of the base movement. While a modular movement is not as respectable as an integrated calibre, the PF315 is attractively finished and acceptable in this price range.

Parmigiani Tonda Metrographe 4

The Métrographe is priced at US$11,500 on a leather strap and US$12,000 with a steel bracelet.

While Parmigiani’s best known Bugatti watches tend to be avant-garde timepieces, the Bugatti Aérolithe Performance is a conventionally shaped titanium chronograph inspired by the Bugatti Aérolithe, a magnesium bodied concept car unveiled in 1935 that was never seen again.

Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe watch 1

Using the Tonda case as a base, the Bugatti Aérolithe Performance adds into various automobile-inspired elements, including the speed benchmarks of the modern day Bugatti Chiron supercar, which are engraved on the flange under the crystal. Each marking indicates a speed in both kilometres and miles per hour, and the time a Chiron would take to reach them.

Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe watch 5

Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe watch 2

Finished to an impressive degree, the titanium case measures 41mm in diameter, with both chronograph pushers integrated into the lugs on the left of the case. The nature of titanium means it is rarely finished to a high shine, but this case has both mirror polished and satin brushed surfaces that provide contrast.

Both the dial and case band feature a recessed chequerboard pattern that required laser to achieve, since such a fine motif is impossible to accomplish with traditional milling or stamping methods. The level of detail, however, is invisible except upon the most minute inspection.

Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe watch 3

The Bugatti Aérolithe Performance chronograph is powered by the calibre PF335, a flyback chronograph with a modular construction.

Parmigiani Bugatti Aerolithe watch 4

The Bugatti Aérolithe Performance costs US$22,900.

The most classically handsome watch in the line-up is the Toric Chronomètre.

Featuring a distinctive fluted bezel that was Michel Parmigiani’s first design when he set up the eponymous watchmaker, the Toric case was reserved only for extremely pricey complicated movements, like the minute repeaters unveiled last year or a million dollar grand complication. Now that has changed, with the new Toric Chronometre, a wristwatch that’s simple but finely executed.

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 3

The 40.8mm case is wide but flat at 9.5mm high, with finely shaped lugs that are individually welded to the case middle. Deceptively simple in shape, the case is nonetheless extremely well made; even up close the welding of the lugs is invisible.

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 1

The dial features lance-shaped hands filled with Super-Luminova, which looks a bit incongruous against the formal style of the watch, as well as a gold frame for the date window at six. Instead of a conventional aperture to accommodate a single date at a time, the window is fan-shaped and shows three dates, with the current one in the centre. While this exaggerated window usually looks out of place, on the Toric dial it seems to work. And the date ring is in a contrast colour to the dial, which is curious but not unattractive.

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 2

The Toric Chronometre is equipped with the calibre PF331, a thin automatic movement with a 55-hour power reserve as well as a 22k gold rotor decorated with a fine barleycorn guilloche. While there is no doubt the movement performs well and is finely decorated, its conventional looks aren’t compelling.

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 4

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 5

Available with a white grained or glossy black dial, the Toric Chronometre is also offered in white or red gold. It’s priced at US$18,500 in any guise.

Parmigiani Toric Chronometre 6

The Ovale Tourbillon is an existing model, but has been given a redesign with the Ovale Tourbillon Rose Gold Abyss. Named after the shape of the case, the Ovale Tourbillon has inside the PF500, a hand-wound calibre with a 30-second tourbillon. That means the tourbillon carriage makes one revolution every half minute, in contrast to the more sedate one minute that conventional tourbillons take.

This particular model gets its name from the “Abyss Blue” dial that’s a rich blue paired with a vertical Côtes de Genève pattern. The dial is actually a plate of 18k rose gold that is finished with Geneva stripes in the same manner a movement bridge would be.

Parmigiani Ovale Tourbillon Rose Gold Abyss 1

Like all Parmigiani tourbillon movements the PF500 is wonderfully finished, with rounded steel bridges securing the tourbillon cage on both the front and the back of the movement.

Parmigiani Ovale Tourbillon Rose Gold Abyss 3

Parmigiani Ovale Tourbillon Rose Gold Abyss 4

The rose gold case measures 37.3mm wide and 45mm long, while being 12.25mm high. This leaves it feeling rather chunky, an impression reinforced by the large lugs.

Parmigiani Ovale Tourbillon Rose Gold Abyss profile

The Ovale Tourbillo is priced at approximately US$260,000.

Addition February 5, 2017: Differences between PF701 and PF702 inside Tonda 1950 included.

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