The transition from exhibition-wowing concept to commercially available product is often rocky and nonlinear. Attendees of an automobile trade fair can be awestruck by the design of a futuristic vehicle concept one year, only to be disappointed a few seasons later to see the car’s original lines and brave ideas tamed and diluted for public consumption. Not so with Piaget, luxury wristwatch manufacture and master purveyors of the ultra-thin aesthetic.

Back in 2018 the Piaget maison unveiled its remarkable Altiplano Ultimate Concept at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Measuring a gossamer-slender 2mm, the world’s thinnest mechanical watch caused a sensation. Numerous innovations impressed also; a case that doubled as part of the movement. A unique, integrated winding crown. An ultra-thin crystal and a power reserve that somehow extended to more than 40 hours. A total of 167 individual parts, many of which had to be especially produced to microscopically small dimensions. But would the maverick prototype created by Piaget’s dedicated Research and Innovation division ever actually go into production?

Just two years later and the Piaget concept is ready for purchase. And in terms of design, mechanical ingenuity, parameters of accuracy, reliability and robustness, there has been no compromise since its exhibition debut.

Too thin to be made from traditional precious metals, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept has been produced in a new, highly resistant, cobalt-based alloy that is 2.3 times stronger than gold – a mere 0.12mm of this cobalt separates the Altiplano Ultimate Concept movement from the wearer’s skin. The sapphire crystal? That’s gone on a crash diet too. On a standard watch, the glass is normally 1mm thick but for the Altiplano Ultimate Concept it has been pared-down by 80 per cent to just 0.2mm. The crown has been re-invented to take the form of a flat, telescopic system (complete with its own, specially-designed winding tool) that fits flush with the case band. Instead of a conventional dial and two hands placed on top of a bridge, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept features a dial that lies beneath for impact trauma and strong enough to withstand aerobatic jet-levels of G-Force. §