W&W 2024 – Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon

About 4 years ago, our intrepid Editor-In-Chief Adi Soon explained that the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept was finally available in a commercial form, and what it took for it to get to this point. At the time the thinnest wristwatch in the world at 2mm, the watch was an amazing feat of engineering and watchmaking, showing the lengths that Piaget is willing to go to ‘always do better than necessary’. In 2024, Piaget unveils the evolution of this piece with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, now the thinnest tourbillon watch on the planet.

Ultra thin watchmaking can be considered by connoisseurs as an underrated achievement for brands, as a complication can be described by what the watch displays other than telling the time – which apparently presents nothing novel to many casual observers. However, to make a watch as thin as possible, numerous tolerances are broken, and advances in materials science have to be made in order to make it not only functional, but wearable as well. In this space, Piaget have made significant in-roads to make some of the thinnest watches in production today, and have continued to do so since 1957. 

The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept began its life in 2018 as its namesake suggests – a concept watch, demonstrating novel construction techniques to achieve a thinness of 2mm. The case itself is used to mount the components of the watch, as demonstrated in the 910P. This essentially removes 3 parts from the watch, the caseback, the mainplate of the movement and the case itself. An innovative cobalt alloy is also used as the case and mainplate of the watch due to its rigidity (precious metals proved much too malleable to be used in an endeavour such as this).

The new Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon retains its predecessor’s thinness of 2mm but, as its name suggests, incorporates a tourbillon within its construction – specifically, the flying tourbillon.

In order to achieve this feat, around 90% of the components of the original Altiplano Ultimate Concept had to be redesigned to fit the flying tourbillon into the case – in particular, the tourbillon cage fits into a height of 1.49mm, and is set into the case through a ball bearing system made of titanium and steel.

There was now the problem of power consumption – tourbillons generally consume about 25% more power than a watch with a traditional regulator. The engineers and watchmakers at Piaget devised a two-pronged solution through the mainspring and the pivots of the wheels – the mainspring was devised to be thicker in some areas to generate more power, whilst the pivots do not use traditional jewels, but ball bearings, which reduces friction and increases efficiency. Whilst the wheels are decorated, great care must be taken to ensure that these operations do not deform the part – working to a tolerance of 2 microns is an extreme challenge not to damage anything during the decoration of the parts. 

Like its predecessor, the watch case (and indeed the mainplate of the movement) is made of a cobalt alloy for its strength – in the case of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, it is treated with a deep blue colour. The crown is integrated into the case, and is manipulated through the use of a special stylus that has a gear reduction and torque control system built into it, which protects one of the more vulnerable parts of an ultra-thin watch like this. 

As thin a coin, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon is a testament to the extremes that the watch industry is able to achieve. Truly living up to the Piaget motto, this watch has definitively done better by incorporating the movement of the tourbillon into this watch. What seems like a simple endeavour is actually one of the most complex in terms of the overall manufacturing challenges encountered by Piaget. Working at tolerances of up to 2 microns, this watch has pushed the boundaries of what the factory is capable of, and what others should be aspiring to.

Technical Specifications

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon 150th Anniversary
Ref. G0A4951

Diameter: 41.5 mm
Height: 2 mm
Material: Cobalt alloy
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Manual winding, in-set crown in case
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds on the tourbillon cage 
: Manual
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Calf leather