SIHH was a mighty birthday celebration for the now-60-year-old Piaget Altiplano. Looking at the new releases from Piaget this year, almost all are are from the Altiplano collection, save a few limited edition PoloS models (more on those later). We have already shown you the two Altiplanos explicitly dedicated to the 60th anniversary, but these new references with automatic movements and date function further demonstrate that Piaget is doubling down on its history. Let’s see why this is both great news and a bold move.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the references 13103 and 13104. Those 34mm diameter, slim watches were not called “Altiplano,” nor they did belong to any collection, in fact. They were just some of the spectacularly slim watches that Piaget unveiled in the early 1960s. They were born from the addition of a date complication to the 2.3mm 12P caliber, becoming the 12PC (the “C” standing for calendrier, or calendar ), which added an additional 0.5mm in the process. Yet, it still stood below 3mm, an award-winning thickness. And, like all Piaget watches since the mid-1950s, the cases were solely made out of precious metals, while the dials were simple and elegant (or more dazzling when hard stones were used, a true rarity in the automatic versions since hard stones come with a 2mm thickness).
In essence, the three new Altiplano with date models we have here are very much in line with those vintage Piagets, and come 60 years after the creation of the original 9P caliber, the first ultra-slim, manually-wound movement from Piaget (the 12P wouldn’t be patented until 1959 and wouldn’t come to market until 1960). Of course, the diameter of the new watches have increased from an original 32/34mm (depending on the model) to an uniform 40mm. One important point, the slim cases are still only made in precious metals, including 18k white, rose, and yellow gold depending on the reference. Another thing to love, each comes with a matching pin buckle, as opposed to the deployant clasp too many modern watches seem to carry. I struggle to find any option more comfortable than a simple buckle, which can also be exquisitely signed/stamped. That certainly never hurts.
The dial has also kept its original characteristics, with long indexes for the hours, including the double index at 12 o’clock. Even more astoundingly, the original font was also transposed to the modern iteration, with the cursive “Automatic” instead of the less romantic all-caps moniker that we find on most modern Piagets. The position and style of the date window is faithful to the design of the vintage models too, except that the three o’clock index got shortened in order to further improve the balance of the dial on the new watches.
The modern 1203 caliber itself is very reminiscent of the revolutionary 12PC (which had evolved into the 12PC1 after four years of production, as minor modifications were implemented to improve the efficiency of its power reserve). The 1203 caliber still features the signature micro-rotor, which allows the watch to reach such award-winning slimness, here standing at exactly 3mm. The original and delicate bridge over the rotor has disappeared, but the overall finishing remains top notch. As with vintage references, these Altiplano with date do not offer a running seconds because truthfully this level of detail is useless at the kind of events that these watches were made for (black tie events and other dressy occasions).
Undoubtedly, these new Altiplanos will appeal to vintage Piaget lovers who might want a more modern 40mm diameter watch. In this regard, I am glad that Piaget steered away from its 43mm case size, which looks gigantic and a little too flat on my average wrist, given the slimness of any Altiplano. This release is nonetheless a bold move from Piaget, and one I deeply appreciate. Adding the date on a dress watch will obviously yield its share of controversy (I’m just waiting for the comments to start popping up below), although I feel it was well executed here. However, it is truly on the color of the dials that Piaget went all-in, and with success. The deep blue, grey, and green dials are among the best I saw at SIHH, and they are definitely not shy in the way they reflect the light. As such, these watches are very much in line with the Piaget of the 1970s, which made watches for the glamorous jet-set, a focus that came directly from Mr. Yves Piaget himself.
There are three new configurations of the new 40mm Altiplano with date, yellow gold with a green dial ($25,200), rose gold with a blue dial ($25,200), and white gold with a grey dial ($26,000). Each is limited to just 260 pieces and they are all expected to hit boutiques in April. The contrast between the tone of the gold of each case and the color of the dial is striking, and deliberate, creating three very different watches from the extroverted green example to the more low-key grey-dialed one.
For more, visit Piaget online.