Hands-On: Piaget x Phillips Altiplano Origin China Edition

A bold take on a usually conservative dress watch.

Descended from Piaget’s ultra-thin dress watches that first emerged six decades ago, the Altiplano is the brand’s quintessential dress watch in the modern day. Minimalist and refined, the Altiplano is pared back, legible, and well-proportioned – not to mention very thin – as expected from a brand that launched its first ultra-thin watch in 1957.

The latest addition to the ultra-thin lineup is the 21-piece limited edition that emerged from a collaboration between Piaget and auctioneers Phillips, the Altiplano Origin China Special Limited Edition. It will be available only at Piaget boutiques in China with the exception of the prototype numbered “00/21” that will be sold at Phillips’ upcoming Hong Kong sale on November 28.

Initial thoughts

Ordinarily found with a conservative and somewhat plain silver dial, the Altiplano gets a major makeover with a lacquered green dial paired with pink gold hands and indices that liven up its usual monochromatic look. It’s clearly a dress watch yet manages to stand out against all the other dress watches.

That said, the dial is almost perfect, but not quite – the date window with a white date disc looks out of place. I would have preferred the dial to do away with the date altogether.

The case remains the same as the standard model with a wearable and modern size of 40 mm matched with a thinness of just 6.36 mm that’s further enhanced by the slim lugs. Its height, or lack thereof, is thanks to the cal. 1205P, among the thinnest movements made by the brand.

Importantly, the China edition is affordable relative to the standard Altiplano. It retails for 10% over the regular production model, which is certainly a worthwhile upgrade given its aesthetic appeal.

Recognizable yet distinct

While the dial retains the overall look of the standard version, a few changes are apparent upon closer inspection, the colour being the most obvious.

Inspired by the picturesque landscape of China’s vast Qinghai-Tibet Pleateau (incidentally, altiplano is “plateau” in Spanish), the green dial is richly coloured and contemporary in comparison to the standard Altiplano that is inevitably silver.

Lacquered in three layers that thin out towards the edges, the dial has a deep green gradient finish. It’s match with pink gold-plated hands and indices in pink gold-tone print. The contrast between the green and pink gold renders the dial not only eye-catching but also highly legible.

But the tweaks to the dial go beyond its colour. For one, the seconds register is now free of the Arabic numerals found on the standard model, and instead replaces them with baton markers, resulting in a cleaner look that better suits the watch. A more discreet twist is the “secret” signature that forms the baton hour marker for eight o’clock.

Notably, despite being a China-only edition (that often have overt Chinese symbols or colours), the only iconography with an overt association with China is subtle and tasteful – a pink gold star in the sub-seconds register. It brings to mind the stars on the Chinese national flag, but according to Piaget it represents the North Star visible from the plateau.

The star on the seconds register is a reference to the North Star visible from the Qinghai Plateau

Although the dial is clearly well thought out, one detail stands out for being out of place. The date window is exactly the same as on the standard Altiplano models, which means it’s a white disc with black numerals, a colour combination that is somewhat jarring against the green-and-gold dial.

Perhaps the date was a technical necessity. Piaget does make a version of the same movement without the date function, the cal. 1208P, but that goes into an Altiplano model with a larger case, presumably one without the proportions desired by the designers of the China edition. But still a simple fix could have been implement to improve the look, namely a date disc in a dark colour for visual uniformity.

Delicately proportioned

The thinness of the Altiplano has always been a huge part of its appeal. Since the introduction of the hand-wind cal. 9P in 1957, Piaget has been synonyms with ultra-thin watches, culminating in the record-breaking Altiplano AUC of 2020.

Based on the 40 mm Altiplano, the China edition is not a record-setter but very, very thin. The fully-polished, 18k white gold case accentuates its thinness, which allows the watch to wear like a second skin. While minimalist in both function and form, it is still instantly recognisable as an Altiplano since no other brand offers as this many variants of such dress watches today.

Inside is the cal. 1205P that has a distinctive look characterised by an off-centre, 22k pink gold rotor and several winding wheels beside it.  Evolved from the cal. 12P of 1960, the cal. 1205P has been greatly improved over its predecessor, boasting a higher frequency and a longer power reserve, but still stays wafer thin. Measuring only 3 mm high, the movement relies on slimmed-down components and minimal vertical distance between parts to achieve its thinness.

The movement is finished in typical Piaget style that’s a combination of industrial and hand finish. The bridges are decorated with circular Côtes de Genève and while many screws are blued. And two details mark out out as a Piaget calibre, one is the “P” on the regulator of the balance cock and the other is the Piaget family coat of arms on the rotor.

Concluding thoughts

The Altiplano China edition possesses a good aesthetic that makes it appealing. It has been smartly conceived to liven up the model’s conservative looks with the addition of a striking green dial, which transforms the Altiplano into something bold and contemporary. And that comes at only a modest premium over the regular model, a difference that is easily justified with to the small number made and the enhanced visual appeal.


Key facts and price

Piaget x Phillips Altiplano Origin China Special Limited Edition
Ref. G0A47550

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 6.36 mm
Material: 18k white gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1205P
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 44 hours

Strap: Green alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: 21 pieces
Availability: Only at Piaget boutiques in China, with prototype to be sold at Phillips
Price:
RMB228,000 (equivalent to US$31,900)

The prototype numbered “00/21” will be sold at Phillips’ upcoming auction, with an estimate “in excess of HK$250,000/US$32,000”. For more, visit Phillips.com.


 

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Highlights: Independent Watchmaking at Christie’s Hong Kong Auction

Big names and hidden gems.

Having looked at some of the most fascinating pocket watches and clocks on offer at Christie’s Important Watches auction that happens soon in Hong Kong, we now turn to attention to the genre that many collectors are now pursuing, independent watchmaking.

As expected, amongst the offerings going on the block are works from the big names like F.P. Journe, Richard Mille, and H. Moser & Cie. But beyond the usual suspects, the sale also encompasses hidden gems, like the highly complicated tourbillon perpetual calendar by Gerald Genta presented as a Cartier Pasha.

The Important Watches auction (lots 2306-2523), including watches from The Triazza Collection, begins at 1 pm on November 27 – the catalogue is available here.

It’s followed by the second session (lots 2201-2282) offering watches from The Champion Collection at 7 pm – see the full catalogue here.

The fully-engraved Gerald Genta movement inside the Cartier Pasha


Lot 2382: Cartier Pasha Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar

Considered one of the most successful watch designers of the 20th century – though his most influential designs were for Audemars Piguet and the Patek Philippe rather than his own – Gerald Genta was also responsible for some of the most complicated watches of the 1980s and 1990s when his namesake brand was at its peak.

In fact, the Genta brand was so proficient at making highly complex watches that Cartier tapped Gerald Genta as a movement supplier for its top-of-the-line complications in the 1990s. Having designed the modern-day Pasha de Cartier in 1985, Gerald Genta was also responsible for the movements in the most complicated Pasha models in the follow decade.

One of the fruits of the Genta-Cartier relationship was the Pasha perpetual calendar with tourbillon, a horological work of art with an open-worked that shows off the perpetual calendar mechanism. As with many of the Gerald Genta watches of the period, the Pasha has an elaborately executed dial with its sub-dials in mother-of-pearl.

Done in the classic Pasha form with a rotating bezel and a cap over the crown, the 18k yellow gold case has a sapphire crystal back that reveals a movement that’s been intricately engraved on almost every surface. The centrepiece is a one-minute tourbillon decked secured by a double “C” bridge.

At 38 mm the watch is compact by modern standards but still an eminently wearable size, especially for something so ornate. This under-the-radar watch unsurprisingly has a modest estimate of HK$120,000-240,000, or about US$15,400-30,700. For more, visit the catalogue entry.


Lot 2400: Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse Retro Fantasy “Hong Kong Handover”

Well before character watches became a thing with luxury watchmakers, Gerald Genta had a license from The Walt Disney Company. Starting in the 1980s, Gerald Genta produced watches bearing Disney cartoon characters as the Fantasy collection, often combined with the retrograde minutes display and its sister complication, the jump hour. Because of the enduring appeal of Disney’s best-loved characters, the Fantasy watches have retained a great degree of desirability even as the Genta brand has been dormant.

In typical Gerald Genta style, Mickey is portrayed on a mother-of-pearl dial

In 1997, Gerald Genta designed a special series of the Fantasy Retro to commemorate the handover of Hong Kong by the United Kingdom to China. Automatic with a 36 mm case, it was a limited edition of 97 pieces in steel, along with a smaller run of 19 watches in white gold.

This is one of the white gold examples. Housed in an 18k gold case, the ETA-based automatic movement drives a display that has Mickey Mouse’s left arm waving the Union Jack. His left arm also doubles up as the retrograde minute hand and traces the hour across a semi-circular arm before returning to its starting point to begin all over again. In his right hand Mickey has the flags of China and Hong Kong SAR. 

Numbered “9/19”, the Gerald Genta Mickey Mouse Retro Fantasy carries an estimate of HK$50,000-100,000, or about US$6,400-12,800. 

You can find out more in the catalogue.


Lot 2402: Gerald Genta Arena Chronograph Quattro Retro

As many of our readers would remember, Bulgari sought to revitalise its watchmaking division by purchasing Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth from the Singapore watch retailer The Hour Glass in 2000, a time when the major jewellery brands were putting serious money into building up their watchmaking know-how.

This watch is a Gerald Genta under Bulgari ownership. Even though this and others like it are often overlooked because of the change in ownership, the brand was putting out interesting movements at the time. The design is an evolution of the Gerald Genta original and equipped with a surprisingly complex movement.

First introduced in 1996, the Arena was groundbreaking at the time for combining two complications: the jump hour and the retrograde in a single wristwatch.

The Arena Quattro Retro takes the concept even further by adding a chronograph into the mix. And it is not merely an ordinary chronograph, but one with retrograde registers for both the hours and minutes. It also features a retrograde date indicator at six o’clock, hence the Quattro Retro name.

The quadruple retrograde display is driven by an in-house module built on top of a Frederic Piguet cal. 1185 movement, a slim and sophisticated movement widely used by high-end brands at the time, including Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.

The case design retains the original Genta style but scales it up to 45 mm for a maximalist, sporty aesthetic. Because the case is titanium, it is lightweight despite the size.

The Arena Quattro Retro has an estimate of HK$80,000-160,000, or about US$10,240-20,500. More details here.


Lot 2409: Ressence Type 1004 “Zero Series”

Ressence has been lauded for its minimalist design and clever mechanics, a direction the brand has pursued from its inception. Founded in 2010 by Belgian designer Benoît Mintiens, Ressence timepieces have an unmistakable aesthetic centred on a streamlined case and clean dial with an orbital display. Though mostly known today for its crown-less case, the brand actually got its start twelve years ago relying on conventional crowns.

Launched in 2010, the Zero Series was the first collection of serially-produced timepieces by the nascent brand. The line-up was essentially a single model but in four different dial colours: black (Type 1001), silver (Type 1002), light titanium (Type 1003), and dark grey (Type 1004), with a total production run of just 50 pieces.

The Zero Series featured an orbital-display dial with discs that rotated in sync to tell the time, thanks to a proprietary, patented module known as the Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS). And while the case already had the sleek lines that now define the brand, it also had an ordinary crown at three o’clock for both winding and setting.

With a retail price of about €10,000 at the time, the Zero Series watches were pricey for an upstart brand but are now affordable compared to Ressence’s latest products that boast substantial technical upgrades and innovation but also a much higher price.

As a result, this Type 1004 is something of a value buy for some looking for an affordable example of the inventive watchmaking of Ressence. It has an estimate of HK$90,000-180,000, or about US$11,500-20,500. For more, visit the catalogue entry.


Lot 2411: H. Moser & Cie. Nomad Dual Time

Amongst the roster of high-profile independents today, H. Moser & Cie. is a favourite for its often whimsical yet also elegant watches. In recent years the brand has become increasingly known for the whimsical, from the Swiss Alp Watch to the peculiar Swiss Mad Watch with a case made partly from Swiss cheese. But the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer has always had elegant watches in its stable, many equipped with practical complications like the Nomad Dual Time.

Low key but useful, the Nomad is a travel watch pared to the essentials. It has a second time-zone hand plus a discreet day and night indicator at 12 o’clock. But the second time zone hand can be hidden under the hour hand when not in use, transforming this into a three-hander that’s (almost) time only.

Measuring 41 mm in diameter, it is powered by the in-house cal. HMC 346, an automatic with a bidirectional “Magic Lever” winding mechanism and a solid rose gold rotor.

Notably, this example has a platinum case, instead of the more common white gold.

The Nomad Dual Time carries an estimate of HK$120,000-240,000, or about US$15,400-30,700, something of a bargain considering its original retail price was US$45,400.

For more, check out the catalogue.


Lot 2412: Daniel Roth Millennium Ref. 0357BCSL

Founding his namesake brand in 1989, Daniel Roth was one of the first independent watchmakers to reinterpret traditional Swiss watchmaking and establish his own distinctive style. He had honed the craft at Audemars Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre, but is most famous for helping resurrect the Breguet in the 1970s.

Like many independent watch brands of the time, Daniel Roth eventually left his namesake brand. His earliest creations possess the purity of a small-scale independent, explaining their renewed appeal for collectors. But some of the brand’s later watches are also interesting and tend to offer better value as they are frequently overlooked in favour of earlier watches.

Made just before the brand was sold to Bulgari in 2000, the ref. 0357 was a limited series of 50 timepieces in each colour of gold to commemorate the new millennium.

Encased in the signature double-ellipse case in white gold, this has hobnail guilloche dial with Roman numerals and blued steel sword hands. It also includes a pair of simple complications, an off-centre power reserve indicator and a moon phase, which bring to vintage classic Breguet pocket watches.

The watch is powered by the cal. DR200, an unusual form movement that echoes the shape of the case. It was produced by Jaquet, the movement maker now known as La Joux-Perret, and developed specifically for tonneau-shaped watches.

Accompanied by its box and certificate, this ref. 0357BCSL is numbered “18/50”. It has an estimate of HK$100,000-200,000, or about US$12,800-25,600. For more, visit the catalogue entry.


Lot 2416: F.P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain

Rightly regarded as one of the most influential watchmaker alive, François-Paul Journe is a technical genius whose creations have garnered both critical and commercial acclaim. Values of F.P. Journe watches have accelerated into the stratosphere in the last three years, leaving few options for someone who wants an entry-level watch from the brand. The most affordable watch (at least in a relative sense) from F.P. Journe is the simple but sophisticated Chronomètre Souverain.

First introduced in 2005, the timepiece draws inspiration from 19th-century marine chronometers with its functional aesthetic comprising a silvered dial with a power reserve indicator. But it is executed in the signature F.P. Journe fashion with Clous de Paris guilloche and blued steel hands.

This example is arguably the quintessential variant of the Chronometre Souverain with a 40 mm platinum case and silver dial. It contains the cal. 1304, a manual-wind movement featuring a twin barrels that provide a power reserve of 55 hours, along with bridges in 18-karat red gold.

Accompanied by the original box and papers, the F.P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain has an estimate of HK$280,000-480,000, or about US$36,000-61,400.

For more, visit the catalogue entry.


Lot 2225 (The Champion Collection): Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon

Greubel Forsey’s Quadruple Tourbillon is a remarkable feat that combines four tourbillon carriages configured to fit in a single wristwatch. First introduced in 2009, the timepiece is the most complex tourbillon made by Greubel Forsey, no slouch when it comes to the complication. The Quadruple Tourbillon was the result of four years of research and development that built on its predecessor, the Double Tourbillon 30°, and further elaborated upon in its successor, the GMT Quadruple Tourbillon

The movement has twin regulators, each a Double Tourbillon 30°, which are in turn linked by a spherical differential that improves its accuracy by 2.5 seconds per day according to the brand. Each of the regulators has an outer cage that makes one revolution every four minutes that encloses an inner one-minute cage inclined at 30° from the horizontal. Both Double Tourbillons are secured by clear sapphire bridges, allowing for an unobstructed view.

Unsurprisingly, the movement is made up of 535 parts, despite being a three hander – hours, minutes, and seconds – with almost half the number of components accounted for by the tourbillon regulators.

A large 45 mm in diameter and entirely platinum, the Quadruple Tourbillon certainly has a gravity to it. As is typical of Greubel Forsey approach, the watch has no half-measures; the movement is impressively finished, mostly by hand. It’s done in the typical Greubel Forsey style with frosted bridges outlined by wide, rounded bevels that are perfectly mirror polished.

Notably, this particular watch has a bonus in the movement – gold plates engraved with the signatures of Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, each screwed onto the barrel bridge, a personal touch on what can be deemed a horological tour de force.

Presented in unworn condition, the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon is accompanied by its customary packaging and papers, as well as a servicing (up to a retail value of CHF10,000) that will be offered to the new owner compliments of Greubel Forsey. It  has an estimate of HK$1.8-3.6 million, or about US$230,300-460,600. You can find out more in the catalogue.


Preview and auction details

All lots will be on show during the preview in Hong Kong during the run-up to the auction. Both the preview exhibition and sale will happen at the Hall 3D of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Hall 3D, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
1 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong

Preview
November 26, 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
November 27, 10:30 am – 12:00pm

Auction
November 27, 1:00 pm (lots 2306-2523)
November 27, 7:00 pm (lots 2201-2282)

All times and dates are local to Hong Kong (GMT+8).

The catalogues for both sessions are online – the first that includes The Triazza Collection and the second comprising watches from The Champion Collection.


This was brought to you in collaboration with Christie’s.

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TAG Heuer Introduces the Carrera Chronograph “JPS”

Black and gold.

Having just announced a limited edition with a gold case and semiprecious stone dial, TAG Heuer has debuted another all-gold Carrera, the Carrera Chronograph “JPS”. It features an 18k yellow gold case matched with a black-and-gold dial inspired by the 1158 CHN chronograph of the 1970s, a colour combination better known as the “JPS”.

That’s is short for John Player Special, a cigarette brand that sponsored the Lotus Formula 1 team in the 1970s. Its brand colours were black and gold, which was also the paintwork for the Lotus race cars. That led to the “JPS” label for the Rolex Daytona in the same colours, though the nickname has since been applied to sports chronographs in the same livery.

Initial thoughts

The Carrera “JPS” is essentially the same model that’s usually seen in steel, but now given a luxe makeover with a gold case and “JPS” dial. In typical Carrera style it opts for a two-counter look with a “ghost” seconds at six, resulting in a vintage vibe although the case is a very modern and slightly chunky 42 mm in diameter.

But the new Carrera really is all about the dial, which is no doubt meant to evoke what is now a million-dollar watch. While the market for vintage Daytonas has plateaued or even declined since its peak four years ago, the Daytona “JPS” has continued to sell for large sums, with a handful crossing the million-dollar mark over the past year. Besides the rarity of the model, the value also reflects the intrinsic appeal of the black-and-gold livery, which is both striking and easy to appreciate.

The Heuer 1158 CHN

The new Carrera attempts to capture the same look in a straightforward manner and mostly succeeds. It reproduces the high-contrast palette and also gets the details right, like the black date disc. That said, I would have hoped for a gilded outer seconds track like the namesake Daytona.

At US$21,500, the Carrera “JPS” is priced competitively for a solid-gold chronograph with an in-house movement. It is not a limited edition, so it should be easily available, though I foresee it being made in limited numbers since its price point is far above the average for TAG Heuer.

 

Formula 1 colours

The Carrera “JPS” has a black dial with a radially-brushed, metallic finish, along with two recessed registers in yellow gold gilt. The hands, applied hour markers, and even the frame for the date window are similarly gold plated.

Measuring 42 mm in diameter, the case is 3N gold, a richly-yellow alloy that’s been brushed on the sides and polished on top. It contains the Calibre Heuer 02, an in-house movement with an 80-hour power reserve. The rotor has been coated black and features gold-filled engraving to match the dial.


Key Facts and Price

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph “JPS”
Ref. CBN2044.FC8313

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: 18k yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Calibre Heuer 02
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Black alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: No
Availability: Starting November 2022 at TAG Heuer retailers and boutiques
Price: US$21,500

For more, visit Tagheuer.com.


 

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