Piaget has created a new watch, the Altiplano Automatic Skeleton, which achieves notoriety for two reasons. It has the world’s thinnest self winding skeleton movement (2.40 mm), housed within the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton model (5.34 mm).
The saying, “To have a skeleton in the closet” originates from the 19th century. In current day parlance we would probably say, “To have a skeleton in the cupboard”. It alludes to a secret source of shame, potentially ruinous to the individual or family concerned.
The phrase is often bandied about the newsrooms of Fleet Street. On hearing the term those in Westminster could worry about falling MORI poll ratings. Conversely, some will be excited at the prospect of a carnivorous feast, as they frenziedly devour their political opponents whose indiscretions make their office untenable.
There have been many political scandals which have punctuated British political history. Rosettes of different hues have ended their days, discarded in the gutter, outside the polling station.
The word skeleton does not engender fear in my pedestrian life. It conjures thoughts of lithe horological creations financially eluding my covetous grasp. Now there is a new skeletonised timepiece to engage my heart from an atelier on the outskirts of Geneva.
Piaget has created a new watch which achieves notoriety for two reasons. It has the world’s thinnest self winding skeleton movement (2.40 mm), housed within the world’s thinnest self-winding skeleton model (5.34 mm). But, behind the headlines, what is the story about this latest beauty from the Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie Piaget?
A detailed view
No conventional dial could match the majesty of the mechanical mastery that resides within this handsome case. Dauphine shaped hands are presented in the widow’s favourite tincture.
The brand’s soubriquet is proudly proclaimed at 8 o’clock on the reverse of the micro-rotor. It is framed by the arcing structure of the Piaget Calibre 1200S.
Regal influences are omnipresent. The Piaget Coat of Arms is depicted on the black platinum satin-brushed micro-rotor. It is expertly engraved, conferring a permanence and longevity, outliving many political careers. The aristocratic persona is reinforced by the case delivered in the subtlest of noble metals, 18-carat white gold.
The case diameter is 38 mm congruent with the lithe lines of this graceful form.
Artistic allures are delivered in abundance. Swooping curves, bright jewels and shiny surfaces seduce the eyes and entice the wearer to scrutinise every detail. As you look at the open-worked movement you will begin to notice the painstaking finishing which demonstrates the craftsmanship of the artisans of Piaget.
As you examine the plate and bridges of the open worked watch you will see it is perfectly presented with satin brushing.
Some wheels feature sunray brushing. A decoration made up of lines that resemble the rays of the sun.
Piaget plays with sunray and sandblasted finishes. The latter finish providing a uniform appearance to a part. They also toy with rhodiumed and black colours. The screws are black and modern in character. However, traditional finishing is upheld with bevelled slots.
The main barrel wheel is decorated with circular graining. The brushed pattern runs parallel with the path of the wheel. I adore the view of the main spring. This watch satisfies the scopophilia, inherent in any watch collector. The state of wind can be readily seen, no need for a power reserve indicator.
The appearance of the flanks on the bridges is superb. The finissage is the pleasing outcome of the patient use of files, expertly applied by deft hand.
Bevelling of the mainplate with a burnisher is the product of skilful hand-eye coordination. Internal angles are polished by hand, where grinding wheels could not reach. The finish achieved by hand bevelling conveys a character which machine bevelling lacks.
In common with an open-roofed sports car, torsional stiffness has to be considered when metal is removed from the structure of the watch. The sinuous character of this main plate, imparts strength and rigidity. Curves proffer more strength than straight lines. The profound depth of engineering is ubiquitous.
Piaget have always had an enviable reputation for aesthetic prowess and sublime craftsmanship. However, even for a brand with this impeccable breeding, they have shocked the world with this headline grabbing beauty.
The attention to detail is incredible. No faults or errors can be hidden from scrutiny, there is no place to hide. The accomplished talents of the artisans from this Manufacture are clear to see.
This brings me back to my original question, “Do you have a skeleton in the closet?”. I would reply unreservedly, “I wish”.
Model: Piaget Altiplano Automatic Skeleton
Case: 18-carat white gold; diameter 38.00 mm; height 5.34 mm ; sapphire crystal to front and solid case back.
Functions: Hours; minutes.
Movement: Piaget Calibre 1200S, self-winding; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
Strap: Black alligator strap on 18-carat white gold ardillon buckle.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.