PIAGET, Altiplano Ultimate concept: only 2-mm thickness
The birth of the ultra-thin
Although the quest for the ultra-thin has been part of Piaget’s identity since its creation, 1957 was the year the Maison unveiled their new, world’s thinnest mechanical movement: the Calibre 9P. This 2-mm thick calibre was the first of a long series of record-breaking calibres, such as the 12P automatic calibre (2.3 mm) in 1960, the 1200P (2.35 mm) and the 1208P (2.35 mm) in 2010, and the manual-winding 900P calibre (3.65 mm) in 2014. Piaget broke record after record by adding a little bit more each year: a small second, a GMT function, diamonds, etc. There’s no limit to imagination…
From concept to reality
On February 7th 2017 at 7:47 am, after six years of research and development, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept (AUC) finally came to life. A game-changing date, indicated at 2:30 on the dial. During Watches and Wonders 2018, the Maison introduced it to the global press as a “concept watch”. This true revolution for the world of watchmaking – a crazy dream, some would say – would become a reality two years later, when the model became available for purchase.
Rewarded technology and design
That same year, the AUC won the prestigious and renowned Aiguille d’Or award at the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) which cemented its status as a watchmaking feat. This only 2-mm thick timepiece displays a distinctive, atypical architecture under the protection of five patents. To achieve such levels of thinness, the caseback became the mainplate for the movement where all the components – bridge, dial – are now one. This manual-winding model is equipped with a rectangular crown integrated into the case. A spectacular feat on so many levels, since technology takes nothing away from the beauty of the finishes.
The 41-mm reference, crafted in a high-tech alloy of cobalt, displays a dial enamelled with stars coated in Super-Luminova. This finish references the dazzling sky above La Côte-aux-Fées at the exact time the watch came to life. There are other hidden references to the birth: the “La Côte-aux-Fées” engraving on the ratchet wheel with the GPS coordinates of the Maison (at 6 o’clock), the two large circles in between the minutes indicating 7:47, a small aperture with the “time of birth” (2:30). The overall piece is equipped with a 40-hour power reserve and delivered with a midnight blue, alligator leather strap or a blue Baltimora textile strap. Both are ultra-thin: 1.5 mm.
BVLGARI, Octo Finissimo Ultra 103611: 1.80-mm thickness
A record-breaking Maison
All records are meant to be broken, and that last one was no exception. The 1.80-mm thick Octo Finissimo Ultra – as thin as a 20 cent coin – dethroned its predecessor and took 2nd place of the world’s thinnest watches.
And for good reason: the Italian Maison excels at ultra-thin watches for it has established eight consecutive world records. Its last record to date was revealed to us and the global press during an exclusive event in Rome. This incredible timepiece was also one of the winners of the Montre de l’Année 2022, of the “€350,000 and over” category.
Reinventing the design
This genius idea was no piece of cake for the Maison which had to completely restart from zero to first lay it down on paper, then finally make it a reality. It took Bvlgari three years of research and development, the technical prowess of countless watchmakers, eight patent applications and the most passionate and insane minds to achieve the Ultra.
Same as for Piaget, the caseback became the mainplate where all 170 components of the manual-winding calibre were directly integrated into the structure. The bracelet and the folding buckle were also discussed at length in order to continue this thinness beyond the case throughout the overall design. To achieve such levels of thinness, the watch also had to be tough and resistant. The case middle, the bezel and the lugs were crafted in grey, sand-blasted titanium whereas the mainplate was crafted in tungsten carbide.
Inside the typically octogonal 40-mm case, the hour and minute dials, the impressive barrel and the escapement all display a circular shape. To make the watch easier to set and handle, two setting/winding knobs were placed horizontally on each side of the case middle.
From the real world to the virtual world
An exclusive QR code was engraved on the barrel ratchet wheel. It allows the ten owners of the Octo Finissimo Ultra models to access a digital universe dedicated to their watch, which contains its history, fabrication, exclusive interviews, a 3D virtual visit of the movement, etc. They will also receive an NFT art piece as proof of authenticity. Luxury truly knows no limits…
Limited edition of 10 pieces
RICHARD MILLE, RM UP-01 Ferrari: 1.75-mm thickness
A few months after the launch of the Octo Finissimo Ultra, which took the watchmaking sphere by surprise, a “bull in a china shop” – as Frank Sans C likes to call it – caused general panic. The RM UP-01 Ferrari has become the world’s thinnest watch with only 1.75-mm thickness.
This watch, an undeniable example of Richard Mille’s excellence and innovation, took first place as the world’s thinnest watch. Born from the collaboration between Richard Mille and Italian F1 constructor Ferrari, the RP UP-01 is a true feat in watchmaking.
Feat? This is actually a true masterstroke in watchmaking, for we know this time – unlike the two previous watches – the caseback was not used as the mainplate. The calibre, manufactured at the Audemars Piguet laboratories in Le Locle, is completely its own element as it measures 1.18-mm and weighs 2.82 grams.
The manual-winding movement with the hours, minutes and function selector was crafted in grade 5 titanium. It can resist over 5,000-g’s acceleration and is equipped with a 45-hour power reserve. The winding system was also completely reimagined: instead of using a setting/winding crown and a function selection crown, these have been integrated into the case as part of the inner workings.
This limited edition of 150 pieces completely overthrows the usual codes of the Maison. It required over 6,000 hours of testing and development, years of work, several patent applications and numerous prototypes before the final product came to life.